Winter Solstice Microadventure


We’re heading to Liddington Castle
We’re on The Ridgeway, one of the oldest roads in Britain, about 5,000 years old plus. And
it was used, basically, as a reasonably safe route to get from the South coast, down on
the coast, where they’d have ships and trading routes, all the way up to Norfolk. One of
the things I find absolutely amazing about The Ridgeway is that it was originally built
because it was sort of a good route to take to get from coast to coast. And nowadays about
half of The Ridgeway is gone and all that’s left is this little bit we can walk on from
down near Avebury all the way up into Cambridgeshire. And we walk on it, not to get from A to B,
or to take expensive goods, but just as a leisure activity. Back 5,000 years ago you
wouldn’t walk anywhere for pleasure, you walked if you had to, and you conserved your energy
if you didn’t need to. It’s a funny world we live in. It’s changed so much in the last
5,000 years. You might say, “well 5,000 years, Matt? That’s a long time!” But in the grand
scheme of things 5,000 years is absolutely nothing. 5,000 years in the history of the
universe is not even a blink in the cosmic eye of the universe. Okay. We’re at Liddington
Castle. It’s really blowing a gale up here! I’ve dipped down just slightly, past the ramparts,
to try and get out the wind a little bit- you see? And even there it is still quite
windy. Although it’s a lot better here than if I stand up. If I stand up it’s just solid
wind up there. So I think I’ll probably sleep here tonight. I’ve actually set up the sleeping
mat and the bivy bag here. But it’s still only half five, I might I don’t know, I might
go take some photos or something. I don’t want to go to bed at half five, it’s too early
for that! Erm- I’ve brought a book with me, but it’s going to be difficult to read with
all the rain and everything so I’ll probably leave that until I’m in the bag where I’m
going to be dry and all the rest of it. So I think I’ll go take photos. I’ve got my camera
with me and there’s a trig point over to the North. I might set that up and try and get
some photos of Swindon, ‘cos it’s surprisingly picturesque actually! Coming up here in the
middle of the night you can see all of Swindon lit up in the distance- and that phrase doesn’t
sound like it should end with “and it looks really beautiful”, but it does! It looks really
pretty, so I’m thinking I’ll get some photos. Maybe you’ll see them in a minute! It is so cold tonight. It’s erm- because it’s so windy and there’s quite a lot of- it’s not quite
rain, just more like drizzle going on. It’s just literally sapping all of the heat out
of me. I took some photos for a while, but the camera ran out of battery. I don’t think
it likes the cold either. So I’m thinking I’m probably going to bed down, even though
it’s still really, really early. If nothing else, just to try and conserve some heat. I worked out why I was so cold. I’d got soaking wet legs on the way up here. I should have
put my waterproof trousers on, but I didn’t, and so I- just because of all the water in
the air, it was literally just a fine drizzle, they got absolutely drenched. I hadn’t noticed
because of the thermal base layer underneath them. So when I got up here I put my waterproof
trousers over them, but they obviously hadn’t dried out, and I think that was the problem.
With all the wind and everything it was just sapping all of the body heat away, so- here
I am in the bivy bag anyway. And it’s fairly warm in here, but the wind is taking quite
a lot of the heat out of here. It’s been a really fierce night for weather. It’s blowing an absolute gale now. It’s been a horrible night to be honest,
it’s not been very pleasant. It’s been so windy and absolutely chucking it down. I did my best, I slept as best I
could, but I can’t say I’ve slept much. Just been in the bivy bag, just lying there most
of the time. It’s about 7 in the morning at the moment, but it’s still dark. Over in the
distance over there it’s starting to turn a little bit bluer but because it’s so cloudy
there’s not much to see. It’s been difficult. The weather’s been really wild like I say,
I doubt you can even hear a thing I’m bloody saying! There so much wind out here. It might
be that Liddington Castle might be a place to try in the summer rather than the winter.
That’s me, for now. I twisted my ankle quite badly, it hurt like hell. And then I lost
my footing completely, I fell straight into a ditch face first and my phone and my glasses
case jammed right into my ribs.

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