Saturday, 2 February 2013

Standing in the Shadow of Camelot

Only a few hours after getting up close and personal with Stonehenge, Sebastian and I found ourselves driving around the Somerset countryside in search of the legendary location of Camelot. The site itself is actually known as Cadbury Castle, positioned on a limestone hill surrounded by earthworks. As we arrived at South Cadbury, we noticed a rather large mound rising up behind the steeples of the village church.

"I think that's it." Sebastian said, a little uncertain.

"How do we... get to it?" I asked, studying the thick mass of trees encircling the hill. Gotta admit, I was expecting neon signs, or something: THIS WAY TO CAMELOT. Nope. No signs, no markers, nothing. The road was getting narrower and narrower, and the hedge on either side was obscuring our view of the hill.  The sun was dipping towards the horizon, it was going to set soon. Time was running out. Were we really going to miss Camelot?

Just as the road curved, the landscaped seemed to open up.  We had a clear view of the hill, standing high above grassy moorland, basking in the copper glow of the setting sun.  Oh, and look -- a public footpath, and not a moment too soon! Bless you, England, with your public footpaths.  A few minutes later, we were out of the car, hiking boots on, and making our way towards the summit.

photo by Sebastian Anthony

The sun seemed to give us just enough time to reach the dense cluster of trees enshrouding the hill. Gazing back at the horizon, I imagined myself living in Arthurian times, standing in the shadow of Camelot.

We weren't there yet though -- there was still a hill to climb!  Hopping over a stile situated between the earthworks, we began the steep ascension through the trees.  Oh, how thankful Sebastian and I were of our new hiking boots as we slopped and sloshed through the terrain.  The mud was thick like molasses (why, yes, I am from Georgia -- how did you know?).  It was as if the ground was slipping out from underneath me with each step. Finally, breathless and red-faced, we reached an opening in the trees.  

There were high-fives all around. 

photo by Sebastian Anthony

The view from the summit was absolutely incredible.  Holy shit.  I mean, I'd definitely have a castle up there.  Although there aren't any ruins of Cadbury Castle, there is a historical marker.  While no one can really say for sure who inhabited that castle, it is known that he lived in the time of Arthur, and that he was also verrry wealthy.  A girl can dream, right?  

For future reference, I think that would be a great spot to bring a picnic.  Maybe not in the winter, but I can image it would be just lovely on a Spring/Summer afternoon.  Anyway, I'll save that for another day.  The sun had set, and we were beginning to lose any light that remained.  As we stood at the edge of darkened wooded area, we glanced at each other, and I noticed a bit of apprehension in Seb's eyes.  

"Are we going to end up like those people on TV?"  He was referring to the creepy mystery/investigation shows that run non-stop on Investigation Discovery. I laughed and reminded him that I had a flashlight app on my iPhone.  I don't think the people on Disappeared had iPhones.

Walking back down the hill was a bit like... surfing. Surfing through mud and shrubs, every now and then grasping on to the nearest tree trunk for dear life. It was fun though. Sebastian was attempting to perfect an awkward horizontal side-step down the mound. It just looked like he was trying to do the grapevine. "Promise not to laugh if I fall!" I yelled back at my grapevining comrade, a little mix of desperation and amusement in my voice, as I glided clumsily down a slippery slope of sludge.  

After what seemed like a killer thigh workout, we were back on the flat farmland.  The sense of accomplishment I felt was almost as great as when we reached the summit. We made it to Camelot and back, and alive, no less!  By the time we trudged back to the car, we were feeling, as they say, a bit peckish.  A tall pint of cider and some fish and chips seemed like the perfect way to celebrate our first day of adventure, with many more to come. 

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