When I ran along this route the other evening, it’s comparable length and straightness challenged in a different way from the tiny lanes. As ever, I’m lost in thought and invariably think back. This was the evening exploring local history- something I wanted to do with the written notes I have to hand. Local friends may recognise the places. The poem dips and dives a bit, just like the road itself. Please enjoy.
Long and narrow upland road Hugs the contour line; Worn through time of toiling step From abbey to the Devon coast. The Ridgeway For meditation and reflection- A solitary journey, A pilgrim on the route. In Saxon times the name is changed To Wheel Way, though still rough. Wheels are made for ease of travel Yet progress slow It's far from flat. The reddish stain of Devon soil Hugs The rims and soils the boots Of those who walk. The views are good where land is open A safer way to go, Yet sheltered too from deep set banks Stones drawn: soil piled As fields are made And native trees line the path From the winds that cut across Forested Dartmoor hills. Romans may have aligned some straightness Visible in Five-Mile Lane. Sketchy knowledge they were here. The Normans were and used the route And named a field Vauldeveur. Medieval times, manorial living Gifted by the king. Villain farms, A settlement, Beenleigh, Trimswell names remain. From the ridge Lanes steep and narrow Connect the valleys Thread like veins, Farm to farm Hidden deep , Long ingrained. Still well-used this road through time, What memories it holds If only we could see. The clues are there But nothing more- The love of history. Ruth Partridge