Wayland's Smithy

When we visited Wayland's Smithy we were short of only one thing...an old ambulance.Burnsie at Wayland's Smithy If we could have obtained one then we could have recreated the classic 1958 film Ice Cold in Alex without any problem whatsoever. We had it all, a baking sun, choking dust and a long arduous march that seemed to have no end. All we needed to complete the picture was a nark to send messages to the Nazi High Command!

Debs was still smarting from her Gamelands debacle when we went to visit this Neolithic Long Barrow, which is located on the border between Oxfordshire and Berkshire. Determined to reassert her map reading prowess she engaged DebNav®, whereupon all previously held admiration for her unearthly powers was not only restored but superseded as she led us, faultlessly, to our parking spot, the Uffington National Trust car park. Wayland's Smithy is clearly sign posted taking you past the Uffington White Horse and Hillfort, which are well worth a quick stroll to check out in close up. Our destination, however, could hardly be described as 'a quick stroll' or indeed any type of 'stroll'. The expression 'trek' would be far more suitable as you have to walk for a seemingly unending time along the ancient pathway known as the Ridgeway in order to reach this Long Barrow. Despite this mind destroying, muscle weakening, will to live loosing use of energy, once you reach the thing it is stunning.

Few stones in fields anywhere can compete with Wayland's Smithy for dramatic effect. The mound itself is colossal (over 170ft long) as are the uprights at the entrance. The actual burial chamber is a bit disappointing but that would be missing the point, it's this Long Barrow's setting that elevates it above most any other site you may have visited. The tomb is surrounded by a circle of mature beech trees whose size and beauty complement the barrow to such an extent that Nelson was moved to hug one! On reflection, however, he may just have been hugging trees to avoid falling over after the stupefyingly draining walk required to reach them. That said Wayland's Smithy is so spectacular that you are unlikely to have it to yourself for long as other adventurers arrive looking like Ursula Andress at the end of She.

If you like a decent return for your energy output (as indeed I do) then Wayland's Smithy gives it you. Yes it really is that impressive! When you get back to your car, however, you may need more than an old ambulance and a cold beer, you may need a modern ambulance and an intravenous drip.