After a day of torrential rain on Friday Saturday is at least dry, so starting early the dog and I make our way to Kelston Round Hill. First of all I see the buzzard on his watching post scanning the field for mice, he seems slightly bedraggled but that could be because of bad weather. Further on a muntjac makes it way slowly across the path, Moss chases after it but comes back when I call him. Kelston is bathed in sunlight, its fields recently mown and its prominent position in the landscape is a distinctive feature when driving back from Bristol or even from the car park at Sainsbury, so that when you are forced into that large hellhole, coming out you can look up to the yellow path of the Cotswold Way that leads up to the Hill.
But now we are approaching it from the viewpoint on the racecourse, down the path, past the newly planted Shiners Wood.
its emerging saplings buried beneath the tall plants of yellow ragweed. Great spires of fresh green teasel heads line the path, with butterbur plants growing like small bushes. Now the Cotswold Path comes to the small crossroads of green lanes, through the gates and the path stretches ahead. On the left of the path is a small headstone, a memorial to ayoung girl of 17 years who died of an asthma attack whilst out riding up here.
An ugly box of concrete lies discreetly in the field, a remnant of the last war, when the race course was turned into a temporary airfield.
There is the blue flowers of scabious in the hedgerow and the soft yellow/pink berries of the wayfaring tree hidden also. Through the gate to Kelston Hill, this is a permissive path, the land on this side of the hill belongs to John Osbourn, a farmer and poet. Up over the shorn grass, Moss rolling happily on the hill. At the top, you have views to Bristol,
and beyond to the great gap between the English hill to the sea and Wales. Turn to your right, looking over the flat plain in which Bristol lies you will see the two bridges that go over the Bristol Channel and the Welsh mountains beyond,
Move around the trees on the top and you will look down into the bowl of the City of Bath surrounded by its seven hills.
Someone said it was volcanic, something I had never thought of before, but presumably the hot springs would point to this, did it erupt one day millions of years ago,and throw up all its debris creating this giant bowl, or did the ridge on which the Hill sits, suddenly breach and let the seas through. Weston Village is nearer to hand, the newer houses stretching slightly up the slopes of the Lansdown. Up here with the crown of trees to wander round, and a small bench to sit on, you will find small memories of departed animals and people. Someone who breeds hounds, will bring their ashes up here to scatter to the wind, these four legged creatures that have run wildly over the hill. And just inside the trees is a young sapling, planted in memory of someone’s mother, sadly it does tend to accrue dying flowers and branch drapery!
This walk is a small reflection of the English countryside today, parts of history are caught up all along its way, the bronze age tumulus that lies behind the viewpoint, a chieftan maybe also glorifying in the view and happy to have his bones rest quietly overlooking the hill. Further down the trackway I have just walked, there were roman coffins found alongside, probably burials from the Northstoke Villa, and at the green crossroads, an old marking stone, prehistoric reused by romans probably, still sits.
The trapping of time in place means that history is always present, it is foolish to think otherwise.