Walking Calendar – Boxing Day

Boxing Day lends itself to a walk – the post-Christmas over-eating guilt encourages people to get out. Amongst the set of people I was at school with, there’s a long standing tradition of walking over the hills from Dursley to Waterly Bottoms (we have fantastic place names round here) to a pub, and then coming back. It’s a steep walk, and not the easiest in the dark. I’ve done it a couple of times, and while I like the theory, I struggle with the practice. It also doesn’t help that not living in Dursley I need to get home after the return from the pub, sans car.

This year I thought it would be fun to start my own Boxing Day walk, for which I managed to lure out a few intrepid souls. While I like the idea of committing to a walk on this day, I have no sense of a fixed route I want to adopt – that may settle in time, or it may not.

The inspiration for the walk came from Gloucestershire Ghost Tales (History press, Anthony Nanson and Kirsty Hartsiosis) – the mention of a place called ‘Woeful Dane’s Bottom’ and reference to a standing stone that I didn’t previously know about. I spent a while cross-referencing the story with the local ordinance survey map, but then failed to take the map with me on the day, which had consequences.

We walked from Stroud to Nailsworth, and thence to Avening, where there was a detour to the graveyard. My great uncle – Wilfred Hunking – and his wife Anne are buried there. They are just on the graveyard side of the wall, and on the other side is a stile, and it was at that stile that they kissed for the first time on the night that they met at a local dance. They were a case of love at first sight. Romantic to the end. But also cantankerous – it was a romance that looked a lot like fighting and point scoring from the outside.

From Avening, we walked up the edge of Gattcombe Park, an exercise in trying to keep my inner proletariat from rioting. A vast tract of beautiful landscape and woodland largely inaccessible because it’s owned by a royal. There is now a gate in the field that allows people to access the barrow there – a really unusual barrow with a stone on the top, called The Tingle Stone. I’ve heard stories about Pagans trespassing in that field and finding themselves in conversation with armed police. And so we trespassed, but an unlocked gate is an open invitation, and I think it immoral that anyone is allowed to prohibit access to such places as these. The history of land ownership in the UK has a lot to do with conquest, which can equally be described as violent theft.

We found the long stone, but, without the map, were on the wrong road and the wrong side of the field, so we missed the second barrow, and we did not get to Woeful Dane’s Bottom. That will be for another day.

As is so often the way of it, this walk suggested the scope for another, and one that might be especially suited to early spring.


About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

6 responses to “Walking Calendar – Boxing Day

  • lornasmithers

    ‘Woeful Dane’s Bottom’??? Maybe it was a blessing in disguise that you didn’t get there, there usually being a reason why places have certain names and all…?

  • Sheila North

    I think as long as you’re not pure Dane, one’s bottom should be fine.

    Your great-uncle’s name is pretty cool, too.

  • Christopher Blackwell

    Still and interesting walk. I used to do a couple of hours walking even out here in the desert but that is no longer possible. At one time I could manage a three mile walk on our dirt roads even with my walker, but that too is no longer possible. Definitely a long way from the days of ten and twenty mile walks were considered ordinary, and a thirty mile walk was nothing really special. [Grin]

    • Nimue Brown

      I can get into the low twenties, but that’s my limit. 30 is stunning!

      • Christopher Blackwell

        The 30 mile one was a night on my day off. I started with the cups of coffee at a coffee shop. Walked into China Town in Downtown Los Angeles fifteen miles. I had four or five cups of coffee there and then walked back. So with that much caffeine, in the day of 10 cent cups of coffee with endless refills,and the break, I did not consider it to be all that much of accomplishment. Walking and coffee played a major part of my entertainment, day or night time. Shoes and boots tended to wear out rather fast in those days. I have long legs and walking tended to be fast paced then .

        Getting ready for my trip to England I practiced with my ten speed and my longest single trip was a hundred miles, crossing the mountains using the fire breaks. But walking was my main form of transportation for many years and my only form of athletics.

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