Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Guess where?

Today we ventured out in the car again. Our weather was a bit misty. First we visited the Caen Hill locks in a canal system just south of Lacock - 16 locks up and over a hill. It was great fun as we met one of the canal maintenance crew who gave us all kinds of advice - as we watched boats go in and out of the locks.

Then we hit the road again heading toward Salisbury - and guess what, we arrived at Stonehenge on the way. We had a wonderful tour complete with an audio guide. We were both surprised at the size - much smaller than we thought the stones would be. It was still magical with the low fog over the Salisbury Plain and the wonderful green fields stretching off to the horizon. We were even slow enough to let the tour groups roar past us and have the scene nearly to ourselves. Look at the photo - it's the real thing and looks as if there's no-one near us. Seeing Stonehenge made us realize that the stone circle at Stanton Drew was really very impressive - much larger in area though the stones were not shaped. Did you know that the reason the lintels stay in place is that they are notched together - not just balanced.

Back on the road again, heading south to Old Sarum. After a bit of confusion that took us unexpectedly into downtown Salisbury looking for a place to park and buy a picnic lunch, we got back to Old Sarum, an amazing hill top Celtic/Saxon/Norman/medieval castle and cathedral ruin where we had a picnic lunch and lovely walk along the old keep wall. There is not much left but the foundations of the Norman Castle at this interesting ruin.

Time to head toward home again so we aimed for the Westbury/Batton White Horse. There are 8 white horses cut into the green hillside to expose the white chalk along a 90 mile walk. It would be very interesting to walk and see them all. Not having an accurate gps fix we ended up on top of the hill above the white horse, only to discover that the original white horse has been covered with white concrete to lower maintenance costs. But we also discovered Batton Camp - an amazing Iron Age hill-top fortification.

We are trying to figure out more about walking in the UK. As far as Penny can figure out, everyone has a right to walk on designated paths through public property because they are the ancient equivalent to highways. Some paths allow horseback riding. However, no mechanized vehicle and hence no bicycles are allowed. Of course, there are also many bicycle paths - but they differ from the public walking paths that crisscross the country. There are also permissive paths where landowners have given the public the right to walk, but these permissions can be withdrawn. There are also public access lands where you can walk anywhere. In contrast, Mike thinks you can walk anywhere on any land. Since we stick to the paths this is not a problem - but it would be useful to know how it really works.

Tonight we had our last walk across the sheep field to and from dinner in the village. We were a little earlier than usual and were surprised to see that the sheep were still grazing by the path - and had not gone to edge of the field where they usually seem to spend the night. No moon or church bells - just a bit of damp mist.

Tomorrow we leave the Cotswolds and head for the Lakes District. Rain is predicted overnight and in the morning - but maybe the low pressure will have passed through before we leave. We should have good wifi in Keswick and will continue our blog there.

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