Monday, 9 January 2012

Rambling from Edington, up and over Imber Down to Coulston and Bratten.

"The Duke" at Edington, the start of the walk.
We never start a walk with a drink, although "The Duke" in Edington looked tempting on Sunday morning.  Fourteen walkers gathered at the start for a 7 mile walk over rolling Wiltshire landscape, and with beautiful weather to accompany us.  It felt like a spring day, and in places we saw daffodils in full bud, waiting to bloom.  Hold on!!  It is too early to bloom, you could get yours heads frozen off next month.  We plodded a steep climb up to Imber Down, an army range still used for tank manoeuvers and firing practise.   

During the last war Imber village was requisitioned by the army to give soldiers practise in the art of warfare.   Some derelict buildings remain, including the church, were every year services of remembrance are held for those forcibly removed from their homes and for the fallen.  The village is open to the public on certain days, but closed when the army is firing its guns!  Red flags fly warning you to keep your head down!
Walking towards the steep climb up to Imber Down.
Climbing Imber Down was a steep, prolonged struggle, but once at the top the wind blew through your hair and the view back down into the valley was wonderful.  Near Edington we passed a battle site, where in 878 King Alfred met the  Danish army, won a decisive battle and forced Guthrum the Dane to sue for peace.  England was once again back in the hands of the English!
The chapel of "St Thomas a'Becket in Coulston, with its watercress pond.

The old "Squeezes" gateway into Edington Priory churchyard.
Edington Priory was built by William of Edington and completed in 1361.  It was a large priory and the remains of outer buildings can still be seen.  This interesting, little entrance gate allows people in and out with ease, but prevents cattle from roaming into the churchyard.   The English language has many local dialect words for this kind of gateway.  I call them all "squeezes" because you have to squeeze in and out.   The photo below shows us walking back to our parked cars at "The Duke."   We did not stop for a pint and a packet of crisps, what a shame!
The long, lonely way back to the cars in Edington with Imber Down in the background.

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