Looking at the weather forecast, today is gonna be the only day left this year with no rain down this neck of the woods. We decided to take the opportunity to head up the hill to Chanctonbury Ring. It’s an old Bronze Age hill fort and place of power. First time I went I knew it was strong. It’s a good walk as well. “Problem is this cold wind, and the fact it’s a big flat hilltop,” I worried as we were getting coats on.
It was absolutely freezing up there in the wind. Absolutely freezing. Legend has it that if you run seven times anticlockwise around the ring then The Devil shows up and offers you a bowl of soup in exchange for your soul. Any bargain with the devil is gonna be a bad bargain but he hasn’t even bothered to show up with that one. He’s relying on you being so cold after the run that you grab the soup without listening to the price. Asshole. Nevertheless all the Crowley set liked the ring and named it in their lists of places where magic things can happen – more interesting things magic things than bad-eternity-soup.
We didn’t have any ritual purpose going up there today. We just joined the crowds of hikers and bikers. There’s a slick clay path up from the little car park, and it is well trodden by small families, dogs and people who had too much for lunch. It’s not a specialist hike. It’s more of a “oh dad do we really have to go up there again” type hike. There are plenty of little pet graves so dad can reply “Don’t you want to visit Rufus?”
There are often cattle wandering around, but this wind was mostly causing everything to hide but for two deer which bolted in front of us near the summit. They came from right to left of us, leaping high and clear of the path and then higher still to clear the fence and bound freely into the land beyond. Dark and low and compact, at first glance I thought they might be German Shepherd dogs. Then the shock of their deer-shape, ears back, forward thrusting. I have never seen such creatures jump like that so very close to me, mere feet away and suddenly effortlessly soaring a parabola over the fence.
Then through sharp greens and blues, bright winter light, wind so hard and determined it left one half of me numb. The beech trees are young and all of them are bowing to it. Winter is upon the world and sure there is beauty to it if we go and find it.
This was late morning to early afternoon and already the sun is falling. We really are at the darkest point, but it’s coming back by inches. Every day is just that little increment longer. I’ll be back in London before so long and missing this freezing beauty of nature. A happy day taking advantage of the lack of rain. Tomorrow we are likely to hibernate.