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Friday, 30 August 2013

On the Ridgeway

Thursday, August 30th., Weymouth, Dorset.

This town is proud of its history as a royal 'watering place', and King George's bathing machine can still be see on the promenade. Amusing to think of a band striking up "God save the King" as George emerged (not quite like Neptune) from the waves. In fact the bay is excellent for bathing and is quite separate from the busy and picturesque little port. The sweep of hotels on the promenade is impressive but their pretensions rather exceed the status of their current clientele. The town is in fact somewhat in decline from its former glory.

Walking on the ancient Ridgeway track yesterday. Warm and sunny. Excellent views out to sea. Even the lighthouse at the tip of Portland could be seen quite clearly. Evidence of ancient occupation everywhere: mounds, tumuli, ditches, barrows, the track itself. One felt that at any moment an ancient Briton might spring from the ground. Inland, the ramparts of Maiden Castle which I also visited, clearly visible. How on earth was such a tremendous construction achieved by stone age people without metal tools? Presumably using bone picks as their main implement. It is immense and intimidating, enigmatic and evocative.

There is a monument to Vice Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy (of Trafalgar fame), who lived nearby, on the Ridgeway. It was constructed in 1844 and is recently restored. The Admiral is of course a minor character in Thomas Hardy's (the author) "The Trumpet Major". I believe there was some family connection between them.

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