Took myself for a great walk today, been meaning to do it for ages. From Arthur’s Stone you walk west along the road, along Merbach Ridge – a very strong dragon line as well as one of Watkins Old Straight Tracks – to where it right-angles down the hill. There you go straight on through the field gate into a huge sheep-grazed field; on the horizon appears a twisted tree.
I headed along the contour line by the southerly hedge, the way the path goes and, in time, came to a little oak grove with several huge tumbled stones. Something was there, the grove-feeling was very strong and there seemed to be a spring there. I poured water from my bottle of Archenland water on one of the stones, then left the grove through a pair of trees who were quite definitely a gateway.
Further along I came to quite a large grove of thorn trees, some still had scarlet jewels hanging from them, others had the deep crimson of frost-struck berries but there is still food on them for the birds. I wandered in the grove for a while; it’s magical, all dips and dells and dingles with a good setting stone, sitting-stone, at the northern edge. I sat there, watching the Scots pine on the horizon and communing with the mole who was busy in the soil, hunting winter worms and throwing up piles of earth.
I continued on across the field. The views are fantastic; west, towards the Welsh mountains and north over the river Wye. I was really high up, over a thousand feet; the ground drops away at the northerly end of Merbach ridge, down into the glaciated valley of the Wye; it’s stupendous.
There’s a gate into the Hereford Nature Trust. From sheep-nibbled field to wild lands, quarrying and lime kilns. I wove my way amongst them to the trig point; taking a photo I was blown backwards, had to hang onto the stone. The view! The wind! The feel of the land! All fantastic.
There are longer walks down into the valley and back along the Wye Valley Walk but I wasn’t kitted out for that; another day. I turned back and made my way to the twisted trees. Climbing the bare short grass was exciting; this was the way the old road used to go, perhaps from Neolithic times, I could feel the dragon running beneath my feet.
Arrived at the first thorn she was gracefully decorated in the crimson berries. Her stem twists, she is aged and has danced with the wind for many a long year. I stood beside her. Her companion stands a little way off, he too is twisted from wind-dancing. They are a lovely pair.
Downhill now, on the sheep-bitten grass, and back to the gate. Next time I’ll go straight up the hill to the guardian trees. Now though, it was time to return to the road, the long straight track, and back to Arthur’s Stone. The road herself was good, nourishing despite being covered in tarmac. The old Stone and my young car greeted me. We headed for the Pandy Inn and a pint …