For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Friday, 10 April 2009

The Ramblers' Church

From Walesby village, the centre point of my figure-of-eight walk, I made a gentle ascent along a grassy ridge to the small farming community of Normanby-le-Wold. (Normanby's just south of completely unremarkable Wolds Top, at 168 m the highest top in the county, which I've described before here.) I ate my packed lunch on a convenient bench opposite St Peter's Church...


... and watched a flock (the archaic collective noun is a 'clattering') of noisy jackdaws - there must have been around 50 or 60 - cavorting acrobatically over the churchyard, riding the wind, seemingly for the pure pleasure of it. It was too cold to sit for long - the chill wind reminding me that winter had not long departed despite the colourful riot of spring flowers in the cottage gardens - so I quickly made my way back to Walesby. Nowadays the village lies wholly at the foot of the escarpment, but in former times it clustered at the top of the slope - as the humps and bumps ( signs of earlier dwelling places) in the fields testify. The only building that remained of the previous settlement was All Saints' Church, which popped up suddenly among trees on the skyline...



This church fell into disuse as the villagers gradually moved downhill, and was almost demolished in the 1930s, but it was saved at the last moment by the efforts of a certain Canon Harding from Lincoln. Today it remains wonderfully isolated, and atmospheric, and the interior is unspoilt and medieval. It's known as the Ramblers' Church, and once a year, on Trinity Sunday, a special service is held there for walkers, cyclists and lovers of the countryside. Inside I found two rather serious, fresh faced walkers depicted in a stained glass window...


Leaving the church a tad reluctantly, I headed up and over the hill, and followed the Viking Way back to Tealby and my starting point. This was my last view of the lovely Ramblers' Church. Note the yellow and black Viking Way marker...


On the way I skirted yet more chalky fields and noticed nodules of flint embedded in some of the lumps of limestone. (This underlying band of chalk sweeps south from the Wolds, then roughly south-west into Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and ends up at the crumbling cliffs of Dorset.) A redwing flew past - I could see quite clearly its red underwing and dark eye stripe - and fieldfares too were still about (once previously I'd seen a great gathering of fieldfares, hundreds strong, sitting in a ploughed field, all absolutely motionless and all pointing the same way). Both birds were a further reminder that the winter cold was still not quite behind us - though both these winter visitors seem to be staying south for longer and longer each year. Yet another sign of global warming?

2 comments:

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

This is just a dandy final installment surprise, this Rambler's Church! If I ever get over to your part of the wide world, as a life long confirmed rambler, I'm making it a point to visit this church.

I love collective nouns (I have a book somewhere on my shelves by Lipton on the subject) and collect and use them with glee, archaic or not. That's part of the real joy of language, I think, the old terms, old names of things, some colloquial or regional, others rooted in folklore or habit.

I've really enjoyed this vicarious walk. You must take us on another ramble before too long.

gleaner said...

A delightful read.