Stonehenge may be the most dramatic and well known of the Stone Circles in Britain, but it is far from the only one. Since our travels would not be taking us in the direction of Stonehenge, and we had a car for a week of our time in Britain, I decided I would fine another stone circle for us to visit. As luck would have it Mitchell's Fold, a stone circle labeled but not named on our Britain Road Atlas, was not terribly far from where we stayed in Shropshire. After a Sunday afternoon (7/17) in lovely Shrewsbury we headed out in search of the stone circle on our map.
The day was a little stormy, raining on and off, with a blustery wind that picked up the higher up you went. Little did we know as started out from Shrewsbury, this was going to be the most exciting adventure of our trip, leading us far off the beaten path. We drove most of the way on a main road, out in the country, but still a main thoroughfare, until the directions I had pulled up on the iphone indicated we should turn off on to a narrowroad, still large enough for two cars. On our right as we turned was a field with the stone ruins of a small building. As we drove, our paved road turned to dirt. We crossed over a livestock/cattle guard and kept going, as Chip asked, was I sure we were going the right way? Then our road abruptly ended with a sign that said we were entering a private road, only foot traffic allowed. Luckily, the map on the iphone still showed we were going in the right direction, giving us the courage to pull off the road and park in a small patch of sheep poop filled grass, and continue on foot.
We started off up the private road, passing a small house where a dog watched our progress and a farmer waved. Up we went, the path getting steeper and rockier, wild looking sheep looking at us as we passed. At this point we were glad to have parked the car, it probably wouldn't have made it up, especially with all the mud. We passed another farm house, and then as we climbed higher , it was just us and the sheep, and tall grass on either side, until finally up ahead and above, Chip spotted the circle.
Its scale is small, only 15 stones left of maybe 30, most broken, only one or two standing at the height of a person. But from here, it seems you can see forever, Wales spread out to the west, England to the east. And you can see why, 3000 years ago, people chose this as a spot for something special, whatever it may have been. Paths lead up to the circle from all four sides, there must be other ways people get here and find this place. But our way was exciting and felt like a real adventure of discovery. What amazed us most, or struck us as the most foreign thing about the place was that up in that wild sheep pasture, with no seeming official place to p ark or even way to get there, there was still an official English Heritage plaque explaining the site. It's hard to imagine an attraction or site in the US that is important enough to be given some official designation, but where you're not given clear directions or instructions for how to get there, where it's ok to park, etc. Luckily, none of that had stopped us, and we'd found the circle. Our reward was a grand and awe inspiring view of an ancient and beautiful place.
For more pictures from this adventure, including some glaring sheep, check out pictures from our trip on picasa. Part 2, Shropshire is where you'll find more from Mitchell's Fold.