Pilsdon Pen

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WE TWIST and switch along the road to Pilsdon. Up and round, round and up. It rains. Clouds mass over Marshwood Vale.

Cows’ tails twitch as I climb their dairy farm gate to get a better photo.

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Rolling patchwork hills ripple for miles, whispering of faery landscapes like Avalon, and the hobbits’ Shire.

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We see many different mounds of dung, but no animals save squawking crows can be seen or heard. We’re 277 metres above sea level.

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Ye olde Iron Age settlers bred rabbits in special warrens on the top. Lewesdon Hill is never far away. Some say she stands taller than Pilsdon Pen.

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It’s pretty hard to tell. What do you think?

Air’s so still, sounds carry for miles. Bramble-snagged ramparts snake round the sides. Brackish pools of rainwater stand, sullenly.

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Turf is springy, sprinkled with slate. Frazzled ferns are outdone by glorious gorse and hawthorn berries.

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Trees are wuthered.

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Steppes are hewn into the flinty steep.

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The views are staggeringly beautiful. The air is moist and pure and still and cool. Something magic happens here. A great silence steals into my soul. Doors open in my head, in my heart. I feel glad, and wise, at peace.

At the bottom, a bird sits on a wire, then slowly flaps away. In the car park is a Celtic Orthodox Church poster advertising services for the parish of St Gwenn (a variation on St Wite?)

We stop at the Shave Cross Inn for half a pint of the ‘local’ cider, The Pitfield Thunderbolt. Sitting by the crackling fire, I think of Pilsdon Pen. I’m still suffused with quiet joy, and yearn to return.

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