The Rollright Stones

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Where:

The Rollright Stones through to Little Rollright.

Season:

Very late autumn.

Weather:

Bright, sunny, and cold.

Route:

Walk #11 (The East chapter) in this book.

Length

Just under 3 miles.

Walking Buddy:

Just my wellies.

Musings:

Yesterday I did something that I haven’t had the opportunity to do for ages: I sacked off work and went for a walk.

Shortly after we moved, I invested in a couple of new walking books and noticed that one of them contains a walk that starts at the Rollright Stones.

I love the Rollrights and have been to see them several times over the years – in fact I’m pretty sure my Grandad was with us when I first saw them so I must have been quite young. I was delighted to discover that they’re not far from my new house.

It was a beautiful morning yesterday, it had been raining overnight but the sun had come out making everything look fresh and sparkly. So fresh and sparkly that I was soon regretting not bringing my sunglasses on the short drive over.
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The Rollrights aren’t overly well known so you will often have them all to yourself. You park up in a lay-by and walk into a tree- lined field and there they are. There is an entrance fee to onto the site of £1 (50p for kids) – a small price to pay towards the upkeep of a beautiful site.

The Rollright Stones consist of thee ancient monuments: The King’s Men (approx. 2,500 BC), The Whispering Knights (approx. 3,500 BC), and The King Stone (approx. 1,500 BC). The story goes that a king who wanted to conquer England with his knights was stopped by a witch who told him that, if he took seven strides from where he was and could see Long Compton when he was done, his campaign would be successful. So off strode the king, knowing that Long Compton would be easily visible, when a mound rose up out of the ground before him, blocking his view. The witch turned the king to stone (The King Stone), along with his knights (The King’s Men), and a small group who were conspiring against him and/or praying (The Whispering Knights). There are lots of myths and legends surrounding the Rollrights, if you’d like to read some more (and frankly, who doesn’t love a bit of myth of a Wednesday?) you can do so over here.

Whether myths and legends are your bag or not, one thing you should definitely do when visiting the Rollrights is to count The King’s Men – which, funnily enough, is what I’m doing in the black and white “About” picture at the top of this page. The story goes that if you are able to count them three times and reach the same number, then you’ll be granted a wish. Easy, right? Nope, they are notoriously difficult to count – try it.

Once I’d finished wandering around The King’s Men, I headed around the filed to The Whispering Knights, thought to be part of a Neolithic long barrow. I then continued on down-hill before turning off to the left, over a stile and through an avenue of trees. They’d mostly lost their leaves, however the sun was hitting their bare branches and casting some pretty brilliant shadows on the grass as I walked along it. At the end of the avenue, I turned right down a farm track and passed by a farm house which had some pretty lovely views across a valley.

At this point I crossed three fields which had been ploughed and sewn. I was quite glad I’d decided to swap my walking boots for my wellies as it got pretty muddy! I was also glad that, for once, I’d been organised enough to put a change of shoes in the car. Beyond the fields, I set out along a quiet road towards Little Rollright. I thought I must have been to Little Rollright before, but it turns out I hadn’t as I definitely would have remembered it. Little Rollright is a small gated hamlet which consists of a handful of houses, a church, and quite a few sheep. On googling it when I got home, I discovered that the whole place was actually for sale last year! It’s very cute and well worth a de-tour into.

I then joined the D’Arcy Dalton Way for the last leg of this walk which is mostly uphill and eventually returns you to the field containing The King’s Men and The Whispering Knights. Before getting back in the car and heading off, though, do make sure you pop over the road to say hello to The King Stone. For one thing, you can climb up the mound that caused him so much trouble and see the view he should have seen…

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