by Will Meister
When I'm staying with my parents, I have the best commute in the world.
My folks live on the South Downs, the great rolling chalk ridges of southern England, and the fastest route home from Winchester is over the hills.
I know I'm on my way when I pass the tumulus. For overseas readers: a tumulus is a burial mound, turf heaped on flint, a bit like the ones you get in the American North-West. This one marks the end of the lungbusting climb up from Chilcomb. It's where the territory opens out, and you can see the distant hills and listen to the skylarks.
I shot the photos that make up this panorama in early September, from the southern slope of the tumulus. The quality is low to keep the download speed workable, but you still get a pretty good sense of place. Click-and-drag to change viewpoint, or just sit back and let the pano rotate.
The panorama starts up looking NNE, towards Chilcomb Down and the A272. That's my Hopper in the foreground.
It swings clockwise to take in Telegraph Hill and Cheesefoot Head. Cheesefoot Head is the tallest point hereabouts. It is also the first place in Britain where crop circles appeared--I photographed them here back in '80 and '81. Not far away is the Devil's Punchbowl, the huge natural amphitheatre where the troops were assembled before the Normandy landings, now used for music festivals.
The track leading away to the east is my route home. Once you're on the Downs, there's not too much climbing, but the route gets technical a little further on as it negotiates the side of a dry valley.
The pano, however, swings back along the path towards the west. The road falls sharply away towards Chilcomb and, tho' you can't see it from here, to Winchester. Unlike the Celts, the Saxons liked to build their towns in valleys. Neat result: when you get up in the hills, the towns disappear.
PS. The picture makes Grasshopper look like he has a busted wheel. Not so: the megatough box-section rims built by Ninon and co at Bike Workshop, Notting Hill, are going strong. It's an illusion caused by the pano-building software!