Eight years ago I went on a lone tour of England, on something of a quest to find King Arthur. Inspired by Jack Whyte’s A Dream of Eagles series (you can read about it here), my trip took me to the amphitheatre of St. Alban’s, the bathhouses of Bath, the walls of Chester, the abbey at Amesbury and Glastonbury Tor. Since then, much has changed for me, and yet much has remained the same. I don’t travel alone anymore. In fact, I couldn’t ask for a better traveling companion than my wife and partner. But I do still find inspiration in the stories of Arthur, someone who was able to bring people together to ward off the Dark Ages in Britain longer than was done in continental Europe. So, here we are in England, having driven south from visiting family in Scotland.
This tour has taken us to Hadrian’s Wall, the northernmost limit of the vast and once mighty Roman Empire, Hesket Newcastle, a surprising hidden gem of a chance discovery with the UK’s oldest cooperative brewery, and Todmorden and Ludlow, towns that place great value on knowing about your food.
It has also brought me back to Chester, Bath and Glastonbury, this time with the opportunity of again seeing them through new eyes as we walk about discovering things together.
This time I’ve brought another book along, too. The Quest for Arthur’s Britain, edited by Geoffrey Ashe, is a collection of accounts from scholars and archaeologists who examine stories and artifacts from the past to find evidence of Arthur’s existence. It is wholly enriching to be reading about the places we’re visiting in such a context as we wander through them. Because we’ve been experiencing so much, we will be organizing our accounts of our journey according to the towns we’ve visited. We can’t wait to share some of the random little finds we’ve made, beer we’ve sipped, and random fields we’ve slept in. What this trip has been teaching us is that the Eight Rules of Local Travel we came up with three years ago were actually very good, and have led us to enjoying a wonderful week together as we tour about. They are linked above, and we’ve been sticking to them faithfully. Our internet access is a bit ‘spotty’ (the result of our $10 a night accommodation limits) so late apologies for the past week of post-less days and advanced apologies that our posts may come sporadically, but we hope you’ll follow along and chime in with your UK roadtrip finds.