Return of the Dragon…Uffington

P1190075We were up early on our final morning in Wiltshire. It had rained overnight and everything was soaked, but there was something in the air that promised a hint of summer. The vividness of the green in the damp half-light made the world look unreal. Our host, true to his word, had asked around and had a few suggestions about the location of the Missing Mound, so two of us headed out into the morning to try and find it… and although our quest would prove fruitless, we found where the Ridgeway led through the village at both ends.

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That is a special path in so many ways and one we would like to walk end to end. There are less than 90 miles of the ancient trackway still walkable, leading past many of the sacred sites of our ancestors and calling into question their location. Were they built close to the Ridgeway for convenience? Or does the five thousand year old High Way hold other secrets, following something in the land itself? Something our forefathers knew, but lost to our blinkered, modern sight.

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We cannot know what dictated the route. The pragmatic explanations of trade and cattle droves seem to lack something when held against the sacred sites that mark its passage. The hedgerows line the path with nettles and thorns, yet amongst them bloom wildflowers and fluttering beauty on wings. The white of the chalk gleams ahead and behind, hidden and revealed by the undulations of the landscape across which it runs and from it the world opens to left and right as field and valley, in a beautiful analogy of life, memory and hope.

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Once, it ran coast to coast from Dorset to Norfolk… now the preserved national trail runs from the Sanctuary at Overton Hill to Ivinghoe Beacon, both places that have a special part in our own journey. The Ridgeway has been part of our story since the very first weekend that saw the beginning of our adventures and the discoveries that led to the publication of The Initiate, the first of the books Stuart and I wrote together.

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We had begun that journey by climbing Dragon Hill and seeing at the White Horse before going on to Wayland’s Smithy, and it had been decided that it would be at Wayland’s where our party would spend the final morning of our weekend amid the Mountains of the Sun. Leaving before the rest of our party, there was time… so Stuart and I turned the car once more towards Dragon Hill.

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It felt right to climb the orchid-strewn slope in the early morning, watching the flight of the birds over the Horse… including the buzzard that had marked the beginning of wonder for us. And as before, the land seemed to open its heart to us and whisper secrets, planting seeds that might not immediately unfurl, but which would, in time, lead to further understanding. We sat a while on the hill where St George is said to have slain the dragon, while the dragon held us in its hand. Sometimes going back to the beginning is the best way forward.

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About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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25 Responses to Return of the Dragon…Uffington

  1. jmgoyder says:

    What a beautiful place!

    Like

  2. TanGental says:

    I must say, despite the pain of dodgy Internet and a lot of travel you’ve held me engrossed by your Wiltshire adventures, Sue. Today mention of the Ridgeway brings back a bundle of memories as it was one of the LDPs my dad and I walked each summer for the ten years after he retired. You are right too in wondering at those ancient feet and how and why they chose that line. I recall Dad, an avid walker, querying the logic of the route – if it were predominantly trade it didn’t seem most obvious so it had to link to something else. He loved the idea that those ancients were taking timeout to appreciate what their forebears had done. I never really saw whatever it was he saw but I can recall the satisfaction he felt. Thanks for the memory jog.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Even at a purely practical level, if the water is in the valleys where the land is easier to walk, why the hilltop route? We have our theories, of course… 🙂
      I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the journey so far. One last visit still to come 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, England. Your beauty never ceases to instill a feeling of peace and contentment within my aching soul…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Jane Risdon says:

    What a fab write up and lovely photos of my county (Oxfordshire) and somewhere I hold special. Thanks so much, I really enjoyed it, especially as I am writing a series of crime novels set in The Vale of the White Horse, in the fictional village of Ampney Parva. It is called Ms Birdsong Investigates and these local sites; White Horse Hill, Dragon Hill and Waylands Smithy are all featured, as is Wantage, Abingdon and Oxford. ~Such a fab area with so much history and archaeology. So glad you enjoyed it and took the time to explore. Fab. 🙂

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  5. jenanita01 says:

    What a lovely way to mark the end of your trip, Sue. And the weather was kind too!

    Like

  6. olganm says:

    I agree, a lovely closing to the experience. And I’ve never visited, so I’m putting it on my list. Happy weekend, Sue.

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  7. evelynralph says:

    Reblogged this on evelynralph and commented:
    Our green and ancient land, always worth a look.
    Evelyn

    Like

  8. Beautiful countryside full of ancient sites and stories. Truly magical in feeling.

    Like

  9. noelleg44 says:

    This is why I keep coming back to England! We’ve hiked in a lot of places, the Yorkshire Dales figuring prominently in some of our best memories (we stayed on a sheep ranch!). I think I could do this walk, if I had my walking sticks. Arthritis and joint replacements have taken a toll! Thanks for taking me along.

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    • Sue Vincent says:

      You can drive between the major sites… and still get a good walk up the hills to reach them… but I really want to walk it end to end one day soon, if I can.

      Like

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