On Blewburton Hill
Izzy and Kit went off to Bath for the day to do homage to Sulis Minerva, the place seems to have worked its usual magic judging by the smiles and enthusiasm on show when I picked them up this evening. It is an extraordinary place.
My afternoon expedition took me to Blewburton Hill. Yet another of my beloved hill forts. Several of my posts recently have featured me returning to regular haunts I hadn't revisited since losing Jake, Blewburton Hill is in that vein although it wasn't Jake that I used to come here with, this was a route I used to cover on horseback, usually mounted on my favourite horse Webster, 16 hands of muscle, beauty and personality. There's no better way to experience a hill fort than from the saddle, picking your way around the elevation of its stepped sides. This is horse country and it has been since prehistory, after all they even carved one into the chalk! Since the spectacular end of my riding days I have of course driven past this hill countless times but I've never been back up it since. I squeezed the car into the tiny space by the kissing gate at the foot of the hill and walked back along the road meaning to grab a picture or two looking up at the ridges of the ancient ditches and once stockaded ramparts but out in the swirl of this windy day I woke up and couldn't help trying to climb up to the top. Normally this is a still, quiet place but today, like the rest of the country we're being swept by the remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo, so climbing the hill in my slow staged way the air tore and buffeted, alive and wonderful, filling the sky with sound. At the top of the path, emerging from the field's hedgerow onto the bare summit the wind snatched away one's breath, resonated the cavity of one's chest and joined its chorus of voices into a deafening cacophony of disharmony. I had to lean into it and push my way up to the summit, the naked platform that was once an armed, fortified power base. It's a satisfying view out across the patchwork landscape to the high chimneys and cooling towers of Didcot and to the other dominant feature of the landscape, the ever present Wittenham Clumps. So easy to imagine oneself back two and a half thousand years, looking from the stockade of this warlords fort towards the larger, stronger settlement to the North, islands rising out of the marshy plain. It seemed the perfect place for that other daily commitment my afternoon mindfulness session so I focussed on my breathing, on the moment and drank in the force, the sheer unfettered chaos and joy of the wind. It felt gloriously alive.
Then I went and had a cup of tea.
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