Walking With My Ancestors

My Beltain Altar
Well this week has rushed past at some speed! You know those weeks where you could do with an extra couple of hours in the day or even an extra day in the week? Art work for a friend, studying for a course at work, let alone just normal work or having a life! So on Saturday, heeding the words of a very wise woman I know whose favourite saying is 'you cannot pour from an empty vessel'- I treated myself to a massive lie in and spent the afternoon lounging in my PJ's on the sofa cuddling cats - there are 12 to choose from at the moment, snoozing, drinking tea and attempting to read my way through my mahoosive 'to read' pile that has grown to alarmingly toppling
Well Worth a Read...
risk proportions. The book of delight this Saturday was this little gem... full of amazing facts you never knew you didn't know, based on decades of very sage observations, such as leaves growing bigger in the north side of a tree - who knew how soon that would be useful?

So to today, super lie in complete followed by an early night, I got up ready and raring for a 9 mile training hike for the MacMillan Big Hike I am doing in June, I'm still not quite sure why I signed up for this! 26 miles is bad enough but over the very beautiful but extremely hilly South Downs. Actually that's a lie, I do know why I signed up - 3 times in the last 3 years some of my most precious people have had to fight this disease, so this is a very personal challenge. 
Armed with an old map, plenty of water and food (- who knew how long I would be?) sporting appropriate attire, I set off strolling down the hill to the station, not expecting any amazing Goddessy moments, stopping to admire and photograph the delights of the hedgerow along the way.
Feathers Led the Way
After my initial confident visit to the church yard to pay my respects to at least 3 generations of ancestors, it wasn't long before my intrepid pioneer mindset faltered a little and I realised that following a path from my map and the online route on my phone wasn't quite as easy as it looked. For anyone interested, this is sort of the route I took -Aylesford Ancient Sites. Luckily as the blurb on the website promised, you are never on your own on this walk - plenty of dog walkers, other ramblers and spirits from the past on these ancient track ways I read at one point of mild confusion along the way...Spirits, ancient track ways? Hello? Just when I was thinking is this the right route? Am I lost? I saw a feather gaily bobbing at me from the cow parsley as if to say follow me, a message from my ancestors - then a friendly real life and very much alive dog walker confirmed that I was indeed on the right path. Wandering along I could help but feel that my footfall was echoing ancient paths that my ancestors must have taken, byways that they knew like the back of their hands and frequented regularly, passing a fenced off water filled quarry pit, I knew I was passing where my great grandfather had once worked. Peering
An Ancient Track Way Long Before The
Pilgrimages Connected to Thomas A Becket
through the railings I saw the quarry as it once was in my minds eye, memories of old family photos of suited gents posing stiffly for the camera before turning back to the quarry. Plodding on up hill, very aware that any ancestors joining me must have found my huffing and puffing hilarious and hopefully endearing at the 
same time, I reached a mid point and saw this sign reminding me of the wren call I heard earlier in the year.. These paths are ancient trackways that date back to the stone age, backed up with archaeological finds. More dog walkers, cyclists and ramblers were met and chatted with, paths and routes discussed. After much travail and huffing and puffing, I reached higher than I had anticipated, I flopped on the mossy grass and marvelled at the views and mentally congratulated the ancestors for choosing such beautiful sites to inhabit
Lunch With Ancient Ancestors
and lay their honoured ancestors to rest. Almost breaking into a delighted trot, I made my way down the North Downs Way a lot quicker than I'd struggled up it! Just checking for a moment with another dog walker that I was on the right track in the woodland, imparting my Big leaves to the North knowledge on, I headed south successfully, to be fair it was downhill so not that tricky! Ancient pathways taking me to Kits Coty House the remains of a long ploughed up Long Barrow, where I stopped to eat my lunch and spend some time with some very ancient ancestors. I was joined by some lovely cyclists who were from Oxford - I seriously hope they hadn't cycled that far today, who were keen to talk about Waylands Smithy and The White Horse of Uffington that I was researching to visit on Friday night and I was able to share with them my knowledge of our local stones. How serendipitous.....  Thank you Goddess! The conversation then turned to the various stones of Orkney where this chap and his wife had just come back from - which is exactly where me and himself are headed September this year ... Timing or what? Happy but with slight aches in my legs I headed back to the village of Aylesford, past another Great Grandfather's old Forge, realising I was going to have to seriously run to catch the hourly train at 1.50, I sensibly decided that a slow amble, opportunity to take a few
An Old Ancestral View?
photos and a cheeky pint was a much better alternative. Deep breath needed to walk in the pub as a woman on their own, but hey what's the worst that can happen? Even just 15 years ago when I worked in pubs, it was a bit awkward, women might have illogically and harshly been thought of as 'up for it' - pfff someone try and suggest that to me, they'd have copped the full fury of a tired and thirsty peri-menopausal woman! No such drama - The Chequers was a lovely friendly pub and the sunday roast looked and smelt amazing! Posting a photo of my pint and view on facebook prompted a very quick message from my Mum informing me that if I really was in the Chequers, which I was, then this was where my Great Grandfather used to go for a pint. Wow. A timely reminder that my line of fore fathers is as tightly bound in me as that of my beloved motherline. Following a bit of a break, I caught the train back and managed the mile and a half up hill walk home... language ensued that is unrepeatable! That's a serious hill, but I did it. Let's hope I can drive in the morning!!

If you would like to sponsor me on my 26 mile hike on June 10th and help me rasie funds for Macmillan I'd be very grateful - the link is: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/clairescoastalchallenge?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=fundraisingpage&utm_content=clairescoastalchallenge&utm_campaign=pfp-share   Thank You.

Have Blessed Week x x x 


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