stepping stones of truth

A journey along the path of life - the stones can be rough, smooth or even wobbly!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Picnic in paradise

Last weekend was busy (I've said that before) and we had some food left over from the gathering. The summer weather enticed us out, and my youngest daughter and I decided on a walk - with picnic lunch of said leftover finger food. We packed a couple of plastic boxes and took some water, and off we went. But where to go? Sea, river, wood, meadow? We are spoilt for choice - all are within a short drive, and some even within a short walk!

A hilltop with views and a breeze was the request. Right, no problem - and within five minutes drive. We drove over into the next valley and parked the car in a farmyard and walked up a lovely hidden valley. The grass is still green and growing with wild flowers. Its an SSSI : Site of Special Scientific Interest and also an SAC even : Special Area of Conservation. Then you climb up, and up, and up the chalk downland. Pausing many times to admire the view; spot deer; admire the view; spot a buzzard etc etc. Not that I was out of breath or anything of course!

At the top is an ancient ridgeway track to Cerne Abbas, that has the base of an old preaching cross beside it - miles away from any habitation, sheltered by woodland. On the eve of the Millennium ( when most clergy were in their warm churches) the Bishop of Sherborne was to be found up on this hill, at midnight, in the dark, blessing a new cross erected on the base of the old one - courtesy of the local landowning family, one of whose forebears wrote a book "The Ancient Crosses of Dorset". Very apt. How they got him up there, when he must have had plenty of more comfortable offers, is beyond me.

There is also a lovely stone bench beside it, with carvings of ancient wisdom from the Bible on it - and also on the stone slab where your feet rest. It gets quite overgrown in the summer but the views are worth the climb. We spread the rug on the bench and ate our picnic, watching the clouds make patterns on the hills.

We could look back towards our valley, just beyond the first house on the ridge. And recognise the patterns of woods and fields that we look out on every day. Just beyond the hills on the horizon is the sea. Lovely to know its there.

We strolled back down to the car, enjoying the skylarks' song - quite deafening. And hearing very little else. That's a field of linseed by the way, grown for its oil. A very new tractor was coming toward us in the last meadow, and ominously slowed. The driver, a farm worker, obviously thought we were holidaymakers, badly parked in front of HIS barn. He started fairly belligerently (not "Off My Land" style though) but through careful chat, I was able to let him know I had been walking this land and parking there longer than he had been working on the farm! Also, I was able to get the gossip about the latest inhabitants of the Big House (only renting, while their own farm house is renovated to London standards "More money than sense" he reckoned). We parted amicably, me not having realised until later that I refered to his plot of land by the name used thirty years ago!

All in all a great way to eat leftovers!


At 8:42 am, Blogger Robert Brady said...

Beautiful! Thanks for the trip!

At 1:06 pm, Blogger Kerri said...

I love your descriptions of the excursions you make to such wonderful places...all so historic! You have a gift for words. It's like going along with you. Sounds like a wonderful day. Thanks for sharing it :)


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