I was sat with a large rock outcrop to my back, wind-sheltered and (sort of) warm. Watching the outliers from a small herd of red deer, below, watching me. I had just used my ice axe to prise a small bit of quartz from the vein above my head. A souvenir of sorts and a link to the archeological texts I’ve been reading of late. As well as lithic tool, quartz symbolized, as I understand it, moon and water, sight and seed*. I was feeling quite the nature boy. Feeling connected to hill and history. Feeling happy.
Last year I spent a couple of days on The Ridgeway but jumped in (for logistical reasons) part way along this ancient route and started at Wallingford. This time though I started at the very beginning* (a very good place … ) and had company to boot in the shape of friend Jeff and my brother-in-law, John (who joined us on the 2nd day for some of the route).
* The ‘beginning’ is maybe a moot point in that the actual ‘Greater Ridgeway’ is some 362 miles long and starts in Dorset then heads up all the way to Norfolk. We walked about 45 miles of the 87 mile long ‘middle bit’ known as the Ridgeway National Trail that starts at Overton Hill.
The Wild North is a bit tongue in cheek .. head south from Marsden, up Wessenden and over to Black Hill on a winter’s day and that’ll give any kind of wild a run for its money. But the moors area north of Marsden, to my mind, feels a bit wilder than the areas I normally walk across, to the south and west. I fancied a bit of a change and wanted to have a mooch around March Hill and also to check out Cupwith a bit as it’s the planned home for a couple of wind turbines at some stage.. so I combined the two with a circular walk last Sunday.
8.3 miles over 5 hours or so, according to viewranger. At that pace you can see that some of the going was a bit slow, as Brodie and I picked our way across large grassy knolls and semi- bog in the area south of Cupwith Hill. But other than that it was a good day for a walk, with some excellent views across the upper valley and the sun finally came out in the last two hours.