Running rings around the Lake District, part two
13 June 2009
Today we were to meet up with a few people at Long Meg, a huge menhir in Cumbria. But before we did we thought we’d first swing by Glassonby cairn circle, which is dead easy to reach from the lane in a field, today policed by young Holstein bullocks with only one thing on their minds- to practice close surveillance on us. I armed myself with a large branch, just in case things got nasty. But it turned out these boys didn’t have the balls.
As we arrived to inspect the site, so did our mate Scubi! “You two get everywhere” he said. Yep, we certainly try.
Glassonby, pictured above, is a very sweet little circle with plenty of brick-sized stones and rubble left in the middle and a good ring of medium sized kerb stones forming the circle. Now it is inhabited by rabbits, some of which scattered down the field while others disappeared into holes dug into the cairn as we approached. Its bucolic hillside setting and tiny diameter makes it particularly charming.
We stopped off to see Little Meg on way our back from Glassonby, carefully dodging the coast-to-coast bicyclists which swarmed round these lanes. It was far less overgrown than when I was last here in 2003. This, is also a cairn circle, but its stones are far larger than Glassonby’s, and one, famously, has spirals carved into it.
As we arrived at Long Meg and her Daughters , the light on the pointy menhir showed up perfectly the spiral carvings on the flattest face of the menhir. I’d been here before but could hardly see the rock art then; this time it was as clear Catherine wheels in November.
Scubi arrived, then Vicster and her mate Vick, then pebs. We cracked open the picnics and sat in the hot sunshine by Long Meg and feasted on cheese, very garlicky hummous, smoked salmon, pebs’ homemade olive and ham bread and strawberries.
Like Avebury, this place is so massive you can’t stand far enough away to get it all in one view. Also like Avebury, it has a road running through the middle. And also like Avebury some people will insist on tying pieces of tat as so-called ‘offerings’ to the lowest branches of the nearest ‘sacred’ tree. There was a broken child’s toy lorry lovingly suspended by a piece of carefully selected baler twine, an enchanting old stripey sock, a badge with the legend ‘I’ve been to Ostrich World’, some strips of sacred plastic bag, a faded old ribbon, and a red plastic fake crystal heart – no doubt harvested from a Christmas cracker – bobbled around in the breeze.
Its enormity alone makes Long Meg and her Daughters a very special place. The large stones which form the circle are evenly spaced and despite many of them having been toppled, are so big they still look like they’re standing. I defy anyone not to be impressed by Long Meg and her Daughters. Just don’t let this impressiveness move you to tie offensive rubbish to the trees. Jack-in-the-Green wouldn’t approve.
Scubi, Moth, Jane, Vicster, pebs and Vicky at Long Meg
Replete, and with the sun beating down and tiny high clouds scudding overhead in the bluest of skies, we all decided to head as a convey over to Moor Divock, just 14 miles away to visit The Cockpit stone circle. This involved a walk of perhaps two kilometres over a track on the moor. The company was so good I hardly noticed the walk and only stumbled about twice.
Once at the circle, we sat together in the sun and watched exaltations of larks rise out of the moorland.
14 June 2009
Next day we arranged to meet again at Copt Howe, the Langdale boulders, in Great Langdale near Grasmere. We watched as the sun swung round in the sky to until the light was at the right angle to reveal the extraordinary rock art carved on the flat surface of one of the largest boulders. I made a little sketch.
Photos: Moth Clark