Thursday, 2 September 2010
Cley Hill - a skyful of the Iron Age...
The children went back to school today, or rather Elora did and Elswyth cried because her pre-school day isn't until tomorrow and she really wanted to go...
So yesterday, being the last day of the school holidays, we went to one of my favourite places high in the winds and wide open skies - an Iron-Age Hill Fort called Cley Hill near Warminster.
I don't go as often as I'd like anymore, but I used to go there a lot years ago before children came along and its always been a very special place to me.
I used to go at all times of the year and all weathers to feel the sky and the ancient echoes of long forgotten people, and also to watch the buzzards and hawks that always circle there.
My favourite of all times to be there are the wild stormy days when the skies are racing and sun shadows surge across the land far below. Those are the days when the winds are so strong at the summit, that standing up on the main round barrow you can lean fully into the empty air over the drop and be held there, while the damp icy wind snatches the breath from you so fiercely you gasp and gulp for it.
It is a place of elements and ancestry and has always strummed a deep chord in me. I always feel so uplifted and alive there as I sit there at the summit all alone grinning stupidly to the wild wind and sky...
But anyway, yesterday was gentle weather. We saw tiny swarms of miniature sky blue butterflies and the hillside was alive with the constant swooping and skimming of swallows. Birds were everywhere, ravens dancing below us for sheer pleasure on the wind, a lone kestral hanging in the air. The children love it too, especially the place they call the upsy-downsys where the victorians quarried the ramparts for chalk.
If you look closely you can just see Elora hurtling recklessly slong a razor's edge!
This we call the Dragon's Hump, and the land falls away dramatically beneath you as you the reach the top. Quite dizzying!
It is hard to get across a sense of scale in a photo, the staggering steepnesses, the vast shoulders of it that unfold as you walk around the ramparts, and of course the sheer vastness of the sky here.
I'm not sure what my favourite aspect of Cley is, each flank has its own particualr character, but as you walk around the steepest side where the slope hurtles dizzyingly down, Little Cley emerges in its enigmatic poise.
I've often wondered what this little hill was used for, whether it was the ritual place - I wonder if its ever been dug?
Yesterday the remains of a crop circle were still visible - I think it was supposed to be a 3D one but was probebly a bit too effaced by harvesting.
Here is a picture of Little Cley from last september to try and show the steepness of the drop and the curve.
I love this place, and I can see it on the horizon on the way to my nearest town, its flanks ever changing with cloud shadows and sunlight. If any of you are passing through somerset, do take a climb and see for yourselves!
Bye for now...