A Dragon’s Walk

We dragons had previously arranged to meet for one of our periodic peripatetic preprandial perambulations. This one had been arranged by Brimdraca so we flew in from the South, East and North to the Weyr meeting place at the South land cliff of Worleburry Hill. There were no Green dragons from the West here today.

Once we had assembled we moved as a Weyr towards the access steps to the hill, stopping to chat to a guardian at the base of the steps. He was a futurologist or archaeologist as they are known in these modern times.

It was quite a steep climb up the hill. How it had changed since the last time we were here. We stopped often for a breather, being careful not set the vegetation alight, exertion can make dragon breath quite inflammatory.

The steep of the slope decreased as we gained the summist plateau. This prevented us from seeing too far out into the estuary of the Severn.We stopped and Baridraca explained the circular patches on the earth, a dearth of growing vegetation under the unnamed trees. The futurologist whom we saw later on our walk explained that they were Holm Oaks which were planted here some years ago as they are a species introduced from the Mediterranean area in the 16th century and are resistant to salt. 

As they are not native, the futurologist explained that he was overseeing a group of volunteers who were slowly clearing the trees and brush with the aim of returning the hill to calcareous grassland. Rare native specimen trees such as Hornbeam will be left in situ.

We also had a discussion about the relict buildings on the small Birnbeck Island which we now overlooked.

After a brief rest we continued our walk up the gently sloping woodland path.

As we slowly walked along, enjoying the warm sunshine now burning off the mist my mind went back to our last visit some 380 million years ago. 

The climate was different then as the area was near the equator. The deltas to the North were covered by tree ferns giving cover to gigantic insects. There was an unpleasant sulphurous smell of anaerobic decomposing vegetation in the air – nothing to do with our hot breath of course.

This was before the land had been uplifted so there was a level area of very wet lime mud. I wondered if the footprints that we had left behind us in the mud would still be here. Yes, they were! We could see the 93 remaining footprints which had later been lined with the indurated lime mud by the early humans many centuries later. The futurologist still thought that these dolines had been dug by the humans as storage pits.

It would have been interesting to have returned after our first visit some time in the late Carboniferous or early Permian to see the Variscan Orogeny form the ridge as the proto-continents of Gondwana jostled for position.

My dreams of the past slowly faded as we arrived at the fort which looked like several piles of stones until the futurologist explained the structures to us. The stones were rocks from the area – Goblin Combe Oolite.

We marvelled at the futility of the humans, labouring to return the fort to it’s “natural state”. What would this state be? Lime mud that we had seen in the early Carboniferous? A volcano rising from the sea, spreading basalt over the land? A new hill arising from the muddy plain? A treeless limestone promontory?  A calcareous grassland? A wood of trees imported from the South? Climate change would decide – probably a Savannah style dry dusty ridge like a South African Kopje.

We turned and retraced our steps back to the steps and slowly walked back to the meeting place – favouring our ageing knees on the steep downess.

It was now time for refreshments so we all got into the Weyrcar and hunted for food and drink. We found an oasis in Dr Fox’s where we recovered after our exertions before flying off to our respective eyries.

© Richard Kefford 2020 Eorðdraca

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