Saturday, February 1, 2014

Mind Walk 3 - The Kennett

As I pulled the curtains this morning  I was half expecting the green to have been turned into a lake, constant rain last night but everything was well. Confined indoors I am sorting and putting into folders photographs from the past.  I should rename my 'mind' walks, for they are so much more, LS asked yesterday about my walking/wandering and I had to think about it.  Not for health was the first thought that sprang to mind yet it was that freeing from the fret of small worries, the ability to focus on the natural world with sheer joy came back the answer.  It must have started in my childhood, this need to wander around in solitude, either on horseback or with a dog.
As I look at the photos, rivers have figured a lot and always seemed to me exciting places, sometimes they are tranquil, the slow ripple of their movement soft to the ear, sometimes like the great River Avon that flows through Bath they are dangerous, if you fall into it there is a great risk of drowning. 
The following river is the Kennett, a 'winterbourne', which means that often in summer this chalk river is dry and only comes into being in winter when the rains come and the water floods off the land. Now here you will find me in a muddle, for there is a rivulet that meanders round Silbury Hill which is called Winterbourne I think, and then it joins up with Swallowhead Spring, or takes a left turn here and becomes the Kennett. A river of great romance and some would say the reason for the siting of Silbury Mound by water.  Last week a report came out justifying the Marlborough Mount (which also sits next to the Kennett but was thought to be a medieval motte) at Marlborough School as originally Neolithic and built in the same time as Silbury, and the now disappeared Hatfield mound on the River Avon.  Built no doubt in time in the grandiose way of Neolithic times for some kind of 'ritual' or ceremonial purpose.  In fact the archaeologists will perhaps have to revisit the old medieval mottes and check if they do not have an earlier date.  Funnily enough Wm. Morris went to Marlborough School and once wrote a letter home to his sister talking about a visit to Avebury, and trying to stride though the water meadows that surrounded Silbury.

Here the Kennett floods the field one cold January day, I remember grass stems poking through the water with little snails clinging to the top of the stems

Now it is here on this bend that the Swallowhead spring water joins and, in my mind at least becomes the Kennett.  Note the pagan offerings on the old willow tree.

Like 'Old Man Willow' the tree crouches by the water giving that special 'feel' to the place.

Silbury with flooding, there is of course a ditch round the mound which often gets flooded

Iced grass and the cool flow of water, I have a picture of this and the one below hanging up in the cottage

You can see the old summer vegetation in the river.

This has been called 'Silbaby' a mound of untidy appearance  surround on three sides by water, but on the fourth by the road above.

A snowy Avebury and river

Similar with snowflakes falling 

An old willow, split by a storm perhaps but always sending out new shoots.

Of course each photo brings back memories, the old stone bridge reminds me of the hares and deer in the fields as I walked the path or the mother and baby  partridges that stumbled and trotted in front of us as Moss and I followed carefully.  The winter ones bring back sharp memories of the little school cottage we stayed in, LS woke me one early morning 'its snowing' he said excitedly and so we went taking photos in the dark of the Avebury stones, freezing cold it was, the snow still unblemished by the tread of the crowd...


  1. What an interesting post, and such lovely photographs. How I would love to visit Avebury when it was snowing - such total magic in the landscape! I am fascinated by the Clooty tree, and how these pagan rituals remain with us. I didn;'t know about the Marlborough Mount, so I am off to read up on it now. Thank you for the link.

  2. Perhaps I will write about the Pagan tree one day, there was another one as well, which had to be propped up by EH. Children also leave little toy offerings, it is a fraught subject round Avebury though;) The Cambridge Journal report is only 'free' online to the 28th Feb by the way. A friend went down to the Sherrington Motte yesterday, which is mentioned as another possible, it is by the beautiful River Wylyle, must look that spelling up....

  3. Just the day here thelma for looking at photographs to bring back memories rather than going out into the gale. I love your header.

  4. Hi Pat, water, water everywhere!! But yes it is fun hunting through old photos...