Following on from our successful writing walk to Tyntesfield, a national Trust property in Somerset, two writing chums and I set off to enjoy the panoramic views and a gentle amble to the inspiring sounding Deer Leap. Deer Leap is on the edge of the Mendips, literally and looks out over the Somerset levels, with Glastonbury Tor visible, the Polden Hills, the Quantocks beyond, the north Devon coast, south Wales across the Bristol Channel, and more, much more, as far as the eye can see on a clear day.
We agreed to meet in Burington Combe, which is over the Mendip from Deer Leap, on the north side; it’s a deep gorge cutting into the rock – and in fact the famous hymn ‘Rock of Ages’ was written there by Reverend Augustus Toplady in 1763. He was caught in a torrential storm and sheltered in a cleft in the side of the gorge… from which he got his inspiration. As well as the famous Rock of Ages, there are many caves and potholes, including the world-famous Aveline’s Hole. People have been living in the area for nearly fifteen thousand years – and evidence of some of these settlers were found in Aveline which was the earliest dated cemetery in these islands; over fifty people were interred there over ten thousand years ago.
Back to the intrepid writers; we met in the Burrington car par and transferred to one car beneath the eyes of the wild goats up on the cliff side. We drove across the hills and up to Deer Leap which is just beyond the hilltop village of Priddy. Around Priddy lead and other minerals have been mined since ancient times and there is other evidence of inhabitants from long ago with stone circles, burials and barrows… an interesting place which we must return to in more clement weather and explore.
So – our mission as writers, to visit Deer Leap, 800 feet above sea level, and the site of old but abandoned medieval farmsteads, a Bronze Age burial mound and Deerleap standing stones, with walks in all directions leading to other places of interest…
So, parked in the near empty car park we gazed out as far as we could see in the enveloping fog… which was just about as far as a dry stone wall surrounding the picnic area… yes, I didn’t mention it, but we arrived in Burrington in a heavy mist, and ascended to Priddy and to thick fog… the magnificent views could only be imagined as we looked in the direction in which we were assured were the breathtaking views…
It was certainly atmospheric!
Fabulous view across the Somerset Levels!
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