Belas Knap

Having been caught-out on more than one occasion, I made special arrangements before visiting Belas Knap Long Barrow. I had been forewarned that although impressive, it had NO convenient parking spot anywhere near it. Base Camp at Belas KnapThe nearest spot is to be found south of Winchcombe in Gloucestershire, on a little road just off the B4632. That done, the only way to see the site is via a very long and very uphill walk. Nevertheless, I was prepared with all the rations I felt I may require and we set off. However, it soon became clear that I had grossly underestimated the scale of this undertaking. Experienced climbers would have blanched at the near vertical ascent to Belas Knap. Sheep, unable to gain a foot hold, tumbled past us bleating, until they were lost, tiny dots in the distance. When the ground finally levelled out (a bit), it didn't stop there! You have to go on and on and on.

Nelson at Belas KnapOnce you do, at last, reach Belas Knap the first thing you notice is how fenced in it is. Blimey, the farmers in Gloucestershire don't give much away do they? The main consequence of this circumscription is that it is hard to gain an overall impression of the site. You can only see it close up. That said, it is mighty impressive. One end of the Tomb has some great dry-stone panelling and a sneaky false doorway. Unlike many other Neolithic chambered tombs Belas Knap contains no central passage; instead the burial chambers are located in the sides of the mound, two on one side, one on the other. These chambers have some size to them but are a little over restored for my liking (either that or they are in REALLY good nick).

As is often the case with these extremely remote places, Belas Knap was chilled beyond belief. You could easily while away a few hours here just taking in the tranquility of your surroundings. It really is beautiful. While you are there you can't fail to think of all those sad people rushing about, thinking that what they're doing is important. When they could be sat atop one of the oldest man made structures on earth, just chilling. Let's not tell them!