Tiny Moments #149 (Lockdown edition #20)

I readily admit that I am largely a creature of habit. In more than a couple of decades living in Devon I have cycled through Talaton and then over to Colestocks many, many times and always, but always, then onto Payhembury. I have passed the sign that points to Hembury Fort on so many occasions and yet have never before ridden up it. Today this changes.

The narrow lane climbs almost incessantly up towards the edge of the backdown hills, interrupted only by the occasional and infuriating dip and subsequent steep rise as it cuts straight across the landscape. At one point I am startled to see a faded ‘Vote Labour’ sign wedged in a tree, a sight so rare in the countryside as to be akin to spying a red squirrel. ‘Onwards comrades’ I mutter to myself as the lane pitches up to nearly 20% before reaching a crossroads with the Honiton road.

From here the track continues to climb, creeping slowly through cuttings in the red earth towards the escapement on which our Iron Age ancestors but their earthworks and homes. The site is now overgrown with more recently planted trees, and it is easy to forget how so much of the landscape we see has been moulded and managed by multitudes of generations, each driven by different needs and fashions. 

The lane is still narrow and I sense a car crawling slowly behind me. I look ahead to see if there are any passing places, but since I see none I do the decent thing. I unclip a foot, rest a cleat on the soft, wooded verge and wave the vehicle on. A small black Volkswagen creeps past and through a wound-down passenger window I hear a young man call ‘I’m so sorry!’. I laugh, calling back that it’s fine as I resume the climb past the echoes of warrior tribes.

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