The Climb to the Top
16 of 50
We’d slogged our way up a very clear steep path to the summit. We could see that there was a flagpole there and as we cleared the crest a memorial and a couple of benches positioned to allow a seated person a spectacular view.
As we stood catching our breath we could see that seated on one of the said benches was a little old lady. This caused something of a double-take. We’d been pretty hard pressed to clamber up the slope; there was no way that she’d managed the same feat with her walking stick. We figured we’d been had, and that there was another way to the summit that was less arduous. A little scouting around revealed that there was indeed a much shallower path, an indirect route that lead around the sides of peak but achieved the same ends. We went down that way.
This was on the first day of a family holiday in a little Wiltshire village where we’d gone to stay for a week. We’d been gifted a week in October in a neighbours’ holiday cottage on the condition that we closed down the cottage for the winter. Ultimately we did this a number of times over several years, and this became a regular family escape.
It was a little village with good access to the Wiltshire Downs, a good selection of small shops - newsagent, green grocer, butcher, general store, electrical store, small garage/petrol station, a chippy, and to my absolute delight a secondhand bookshop. I got to know the owner of the latter very well over the years, and although the shop is gone now I still own a few of the books that I purchased there.
In later years it became a stopping point on holidays to the West Country and Cornwall and immediately prior to Covid I visited again a number of times on the way to and from a client in the neighbouring county. There’s now a charity shop near to the old bookshop, with a good collection of secondhand books and I’ve also found a number of treasures in there. Some of the other shops have gone, as has the petrol station but many remain to this day and whilst many things have changed, it’s still very much the same village of my childhood and still appears to be a thriving community, even holding a literary festival in the autumn.
This village still holds a favourite place in my heart. I haven’t had the opportunity to visit since early 2020, so I do wonder how things have changed if at all in the last couple of years with the implications of Covid.
Once upon a time we looked at a possible house move there and at one point had a property in mind, but that didn’t work out and plans changed. I doubt that we will ever do that now, but it is a place that will be an anchor point in my life. One of only happy memories (I’m sure there were somethings that I’ve probably chosen not to remember) and some unfulfilled things, but still….
One that I am determined to complete at some point is to climb to the top of another nearby monument. This one is manmade and stands not far from this little village. Over the years, those family holidays and other visits, I’ve been there a number of times to climb to it’s summit. Although generally open to the public at certain times, each time I’ve tried it’s been closed for an unusual reason. It does seem a little like fate conspiring against me but one day.