Here we are. The first, endless drive of our tour is almost over. In 3 days Diego - who is a better driver than Schumacher :-) - has bravely borne the long drive from Trevignano Romano to Studley Roger, the peaceful village north of York where we are staying tonight. And our Renault Twingo - a better car than a Ferrari :-) - has bravely crossed four countries (Italy, Switzerland, France, and England), challenging enormous trucks and powerful Mercedes and BMW.
We have passed through Tuscany without visiting any medieval churches, through Switzerland without buying a chocolate bar, through France without stopping at any castles, but we couldn't help crossing England without visiting any megalithic sites.
So, in our first British day, from Dover we reached Kit's Coty chambered tomb, in Kent. It is the gigantic remains of a rectangular stone burial chamber of a long barrow. Even if fenced, the site is still impressive. Not very far from it is Little Kit's Coty, also known as the Countless Stones because of a tradition (common to many megalithic sites) that its stones could never be counted. It is a collapsed group of boulders, once forming a burial chamber.
After an unpleasant "dive" in the motorway traffic around London and up to the North (It seemed to us that every British caravan was on our way), we turned to Derbyshire. A short and nice walk in the moorland led us to the small but beautiful Nine Ladies stone circle and the nearby low King Stone - it's only 0.9m high: not a very important King, therefore :-) -
The weather was splendid, so we couldn't resist going to Arbor Low circle-henge. Aubrey Burl (in our opinion the best megalithic expert and writer of many useful guides) is perfectly right: the pillars of the ring look as if they were blown down by the tempestuous winds howling in from the north. An enigmatic and splendid site. We were forced to leave the place only when a group of young bulls came into the henge (Paola doesn't like bulls since a previous corrida-like experience at Beltany stone circle in Ireland).
On Saturday morning, before leaving Derbyshire, we also visited the Nine Stones (four tall stones beautifully situated under a tree in a field) and two stone circles lost on Ramsley Moor (Barbrook I and III). The afternoon was dedicated to the tallest standing stones of Great Britain, in Humberside and North Yorkshire: Rudston monolith, a breathtaking pillar 7.8m (almost 26 feet) tall that towers over Rudston churchyard, and the Devil's Arrows, three aligned standing stones from 5.5 to 6.8m (18 to 22.5 feet) in height.
We had a good meal in a pub (where they were also serving a "leek and coconut soup" but we didn't have enough courage to taste it...). We are now writing this diary in a delightful B&B, not far from Ripon (North Yorkshire), where we've been warmly welcomed by a very nice couple.
It is time to go to sleep now. Bye bye to everybody and see you in Scotland!
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