Tuesday, 17 April 2012

A ride into history....

The light is a kind of spring half-light, not shadow and not sun, a soft and treacherous glimmering from behind a cloud. The wind is chilly and finger cold and there is a continuous dancing everywhere of branch and flower. The trees have yet to come into full-leaf and so there is nothing to take out the sting from the wind - it comes straight across, rippling the puddles into small seas with fitful waves.

So it is as I make my way up the drag into Market Bosworth for what seems like the thousandth time. At the junction in the town centre I am momentarily undecided - turn right for the fast drop down towards the water park and then through Congerstone - or left and on to Cadeby and Sutton Cheney - I go left and up the short hill past Bosworth Hall and then out to Sutton Cheney. Small groups of mauve flowers stand in companies and dance and fret incessantly. As I turn it is instantly better, the thick high hedges of holly, maple, hawthorn shelter me and for a moment I cycle in stillness, in a primrose world of absolute spring. I pass a small wood - it stretches like a black carpet towards the horizon - there is a look of sombre ruddiness as though branches had been dipped in burgundy. There can be no doubt that spring is upon us - despite the recent reversion to a more wintry outlook - the green leaves of the birch tree display an infinite tenderness that will never be displayed again this year - like soft paint splashes among a dark sea of branches. The leaves have a luminous brilliance, youthful and fresh and bursting with life - as the year progresses they will dull and tire. There’s a small nest - a miracle of moss and feather built into a precarious stump - the work of robins, tits or wrens perhaps? - these nests are usually only found by chance or great patience - or by the accidental rousing of the birds themselves.

I cross the canal bridge beyond Sutton Cheney and make an impulsive left hand turn - up a road I've never travelled previously and signposted Dadlington and Stoke Golding. There's another canal bridge and a short upward pull into the village of Dadlington - I pass a pub and a village green - there are some boys playing football and a group of young girls playing under a cherry tree - it looks like a happy scene. I carry on and then make a sharp right turn signed 'Stoke Golding' - there's a steep drop and for a minute I'm flying along smiling with the exhileration. The road is winding and then I am alongside the canal; there's a lay-by with parked cars and, on the canal, there are some boats moored - this seems to be something of local attraction, there are people with children feeding the ducks, people walking dogs, people sitting in cars just looking at the scene.

I carry on. Now the downhill ease has turned uphill but not too taxing - soon I'm entering the village -  the sounds of the normal world are dim - there is the clap of pigeon wings, the squawk of blackbirds, the church bells are ringing. These sounds have a quality of excitement, maybe mystery - they seem to magnify the silence, an expansive hush, the wind has died, the strange silence of a small confined village - my senses are keen - I have not been here before - I notice everything; the red phonebox, three pubs, a network of alleyways - then I come upon a sign which intrigues me - I stop to look at it and take a photo.

I make my way home and with immediate alacrity set to on some research - it transpires that my ride today covered some historic ground, Stoke Golding's unique historical claim to fame is that in 1485 the people of the village witnessed the coronation of King Henry VII, the first Tudor monarch, after defeating King Richard III at the battle of Bosworth Field, marking the end of the Wars of the Roses and heralding the Tudor dynasty. The battle took place on the marshland known as Redemore between Stoke Golding, Dadlington, Shenton and Sutton Cheney. Henry's entourage retired to hilly ground near the village of Stoke Golding - here the impromptu coronation of King Henry VII was performed with a crown fashioned from a nearby thornbush. The area became known as Crown Hill.

I ride around this area most days - I pass the Battlefield site regularly - but riding through this village today, and then finding this information has certainly made the day's ride extra special.

No comments:

Post a Comment