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Bristol , United Kingdom
My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, will be published early in 2022 by Indigo Dreams. I am co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy. https://theleapingword.com

Thursday, 27 July 2017

A Dog Day on Leckhampton Hill

It was the final day of hall and stairs floor stripping, and it was hot. Ted and I decided to head somewhere for a bit of air. 

How about Leckhampton Hill, just south of Cheltenham? 

Don't mind if I do, said Ted. 

We chose a car park that was already at the top of the approach to the hill, so that there wasn't so far to climb, and before long we were enjoying a bit of a breeze ... 

... not to mention the gorgeous views, over Cheltenham and across to the Cotswolds.   

This rock pinnacle is the Devil's Chimney. My walking book is adamant that it's not a natural feature, having been quarried by 18th century workmen, although differential erosion could be another explanation.

In any event, legends have grown up around it, concerning Old Nick and his propensity to chuck stones about. One piece of information that might be true is that the maximum number of people who've stood on its cap at the same time is thirteen. Which made me feel quite queasy.

Up on top of the hill, there were now views over to Gloucester Cathedral with the Severn flood plain and Wales beyond ... 

... the misty Malvern Hills up ahead ... 

... and Bredon Hill and the Cotswolds rather closer at hand.

It was just the most perfect day.

A short climb took us to that ubiquitous feature, the remains of an iron-age hill fort

Neither Ted (on a lead) or the cows could be bothered with each other in the heat. 

By now we were on Hartley Hill, overlooking Charlton Kings Common.  

Some kind landowner had incorporated fox/badger flaps into their new drystone wall. 

And yet the popping of black gorse pods all around us was echoed in the valley by almost constant gun fire. All those small deaths.  

I found a fossil on the path, and then almost immediately afterwards a better one which I was unable to prise from its muddy bed without a trowel. 

Oh and the limestone-loving flowers were glorious. Giant thistles ...

... vetch and poppies on the edge of a barley field ... 

... and on the verges of the quiet road leading back to the start of our walk, chicory ... 

... and sheep's bit, alongside oilseed rape. 

And it was still too hot for the sheep to be bothered by Ted, or he by them. 

Cranesbill, lady's mantle and ragwort in the quarry car park.

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