Leaving the church it was obvious I wasn’t going to be able to turn the car round and head on back down the hill, but anyway…up was better if we could drive rather than walk! We really didn’t have time to go climbing today after all, and it was hot. We followed the little lane up the steady climb lined with houses to a fork in the road. To the left the way led down again, to the right… there was a deer, standing under a tree in a lane I would certainly have missed. It was looking right at us in an uncanny echo of the carving we had just seen. I slowed to a stop and reached for the camera, holding its gaze in case it moved… Well, of course it did, just as I was switching the darned thing on… but we have the memory as well as a couple of shots taken a moment too late as it wandered off through the trees.
So of course, we turned right. There could be no question. Following the road we began to climb and found ourselves near the summit… with nowhere to park, of course, but never mind. We had ‘climbed’ higher that we had expected and from here we could clearly see the earthworks of the hillfort… we had not known it was there till this point and only research on returning home told us the whole story. There could be no doubt, though, it was definitely one of ‘our’ hills.. and we were definitely going to have to come back and climb it. Not in this heat though… we’ve done that all too often and we had been quite clear on that point… no climbing today. Just reconnaissance.
We did manage to find a place to stop and from there the curving shape of the hillfort was unmistakable. So were the dragonflies that were almost swarming! From here, too you could see right across to Glastonbury Tor, hazy on the skyline, and we began to think of the Arimathean connection. We knew there was a church on a hill close by, ruined now, that had once welcomed travellers as they sailed into the islands that had once occupied this area… islands that are now hills. It was not inconceivable that even so far back as Joseph’s time there had been similar places of welcome at the far edges of our land.
That ruined church I had painted on that long ago camping trip with my very first watercolours. Painted very badly, I admit, but even so… it was odd to think that picture was in the studio still, along with a painting of this hill itself and the headland of Brean Down.
With some reluctance we wandered back to the car. It would have been so easy to just keep walking and climb, but we had made a decision and were sticking to it. No climbing. And anyway, we wanted to run out to Brean before we left the area and the afternoon was advancing. We turned the car towards the coast road and set off in search of refreshments.