Discovering the past…in the deep dark woods!

It’s official! I’ve now become Baldrick’s alter ego Tony Robinson and doing my own bit of scratching at the surface as my days are teeming with time to go out and discover what is new to me and old for the rest of the world.

It’s no secret that I enjoy getting out on my bike and escaping the hue and cry of the everyday world for a few hours…but recently I’ve been seeking out hidden ruins or old forts that which are ripe for exploring.

I’ve had a fascination with maps ever since I was a boy. In fact I would spend many an hour just flipping through a world atlas to find out about the world and what mysteries it had to offer.

So when I embarked on my global travels, I would often seek out places of interest that weren’t necessarily on the tourist trail. Like the Naval moth ball fleet in NorCal or the set location in NYC of an old movie…or the crash site of a WWII bomber in southern Italy.

This interest in places that were not for the guide book readers has continued into my middle years, however recently I started to think about all of the interesting places that were never seen but would be relatively close at hand.

So over the last year or so I have been scrutinising ordnance survey maps of my area, just looking for land features, trails, forts or land markings that might be interesting to find and ride to…and recently I have started including some of them on my Biker’s Travelog series on my YouTube channel: RevelatorAlf

Of course the world is a very big place indeed and one could spend a hundred lifetimes exploring countries, landmarks and general places of note, however just as William Blake wrote in ‘Auguries of Innocence’…

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.”

There is a universe on your doorstep, so why not discover that as well…and so I do as often as I can!

A couple of days ago as I was riding through Oxfordshire, UK…I remembered that I had once seen a couple of interesting landmarks on my previous travels and would be good to go see again.

First was the White Mark at Watlington Hill, to the east of Oxford and the second was a hidden fort deep in the Chiltern Hills. I knew they were relatively accessible by road and by bike…so as I knew there were some great riding roads in the area to be had and to get on film too.

The White Mark on Watlington Hill is an elongated triangle in the hillside. The story goes in the 1700s, a local squire was disgruntled that his local church did not have a spire, so he set about tasking his men to scrape away at the hillside to reveal the chalk rock and fashion a spire shape that he could view from his house. Now that’s conviction for you!

The fort at Wyfold Wood near Checkendon is an Iron Age plateau fort known as Wyfold Castle Hillfort and whilst some of the area is overgrown, much of the earthworks are still clearly visible. The site is easily accessible off the back roads and can be walked around with relative ease too. This is a stunning site that is covered in woodlands now and has a different atmosphere with the changing seasons. Well worth a visit!

Check out the videos on RevelatorAlf and there will be another blog coming soon. Onwards!



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