A short trip has been in the planning for quite some time now. We are embracing the colder months, setting off on a number of day-rides between now and February, and embarking on a weeks riding and exploring on the South Coast in Dorset.
We have chosen Dorset, not only for its natural beauty, but also for its history. One of my favorite things about cycling across the English countryside is the pleasant surprise that comes with stumbling upon something you had no idea existed, something fascinating and educational, something that helps construct a better image of the place that you are currently exploring. It can flesh out a trip and develop it into something entirely new.
In Dorset’s landscape can be found, albeit with some difficulty, ancient tracks trodden deep below ground level. Holloways, that connected villages before the more direct or accessible roads had been developed, snaking undetected through areas such as the Marshwood Vale, concealed beneath intertwined trees and weeds. On these ancient paths it’s said that one could feel transported back in time. In Holloway Robert Macfarlane describes this phenomenon.
‘Down in the dusk of the holloway, the landscape’s pasts felt excitingly alive & coexistent, as if history had pleated back on itself, bringing discontinuous moments into contact & creating correspondences that survived as a territorial imperative to concealment, escape & encounter.’
‘Many of those who have walked the old ways have seen them as places within which one might slip back out of this world, or within which ghosts softly flock.’
It is safe to assume that this is going to be a wholly different trip to anything we have done before, a trip with a strong sense of place and identity.