New – Kings of Wessex – Making a Trail
Smatterings of frost glistened as David and I packed a rucksack, picked up our boots, Dictaphone, notebook and camera and headed for the Dorset and Somerset borders, with the intent of creating and testing a new trail.
The promise of adventure hung in the air. Exciting.
We were drawing on what we’ve learnt for Foot Trails over the past 15, 20 years to add a new trail to our Wessex Ancient Kingdom inn to inn trip and Somerset Knights Quest (staying in one place) walking holidays.
With the new film – King Arthur coming out later this year in the UK, we were ready to immerse ourselves in knights, early battles, ancient landscapes and more.
Creating a new trail is work we often do in the winter months. After 3 days of heavy rain the ground was damp and there was a lot of mud. (due to the winter storm)
It has been an exciting but intense week of work and I could tell I needed a good walk to regain some balance!
By the time I was several miles in the weeks efforts were falling away, and my mind was becoming lighter, my body feeling easier, freer.
We had 11 miles (if our ideas and sketch for the route worked the first time) and longer if we needed to re-route or change things on the ground.
The sun and vivid blue skies which developed were a wondrous surprise. Everything in the landscape lit up. We saw many buzzards, often hearing their distinctive and evocative shrill call before we spotted them, wings outstretched, having fun on the thermals.
We investigated churchyards, read grave stones and explored ancient buildings. Looking for clues of life before us. Enjoying the inevitable detective work that is needed to piece together the story of what has happened and why we could see what we could today.
We debated (as we always do) whether particular paths, villages and places added to the experience or not.
Every place, mark in the land tells us a story of our past.
It is fascinating to unearth this. See the clues. Build a picture.
We checked in with our drivers, called in to one of the country inns where our guests stay and caught up with the landlord and had a quick lunch at one of the lunch stops we like to recommend to make sure it was good. Noting sadly that a former favourite lunch spot had stopped trading.
Summing up 11 miles in a few words I find quite a challenge. An entire day. A mini adventure. But here are a few highlights that stay with me and which we hope you will experience when you walk Kings of Wessex.
The magnificent site of Sherborne abbey. It’s ochre coloured stone standing proudly against the vivid blue February skies. The first Kings of Wessex buried inside…
The welcome lunch at the café on route. A simple home made quiche and salad, made with care and so welcome after the first 5 miles.
The discussions over the gorgeous cottages, some thatched. The little bridge that took you over a gully to an outside office. The bridge over the rushing stream that led modern day drivers out of their cottage and onto the lane…
The call of the buzzards. Flying free. Floating on the thermals and wandering what their high view of earth must be like.
Touching a statue, on a tomb, carved 800 years previously… I felt drawn to it. I tried to imagine the person who had carved it..
The stories. The privileged glimpse into England’s past. Into people’s lives, successes, creations and sometimes tragedies.
I hope you enjoy these few pictures. The creation of a new trail and all we saw, which we hope sincerely you will love and enjoy.