Oolite Now – part I

A Limestone Pilgrimage

The third section of Gary Hogg’s ‘And Far Away’ concerns a walk from the Dorset Coast to the Cotswolds which is actually just the first section of an envisaged longer route. Mooching about on the beach near Burton Bradstock he recalls the genesis of the idea for the route:

I remembered how I had first conceived the idea, looking up by chance one morning at the geological map hanging on the wall a yard away from the table in the window at which I write. There it was, that butter-cup yellow streak, slanting away across England from the Dorset coast, north-east-by-east, to vanish at the Humber and reappear again for the last few miles on Pickering Moor in Yorkshire.

Geological map of England

Here the oolitic limestone is 12 (in pale, rather than buttercup, yellow) Follow this link for another lovely old map in which the oolitic limestone is divided into 2, of which one, the lower oolite, is buttercup-yellow.

When I became sufficiently curious to superimpose another map on the geological map that had attracted me I made the interesting discovery that the old Foss Way, the original Roman road from the Dorset coast to the North Sea Lincolnshire coast, followed this line of buttercup-yellow for a very considerable portion of its 180-odd miles. The legend on the map showed me that the colour in question stood for oolitic limestone. If then I mapped out a walk that used the Foss Way as a line for my left flank to rest on I could follow this limestone across England for as far as I liked to walk.

Fosse way map

In fact, the Fosse Way ran from Exeter (Isca Dumnoniorum) to Lincoln (Lindum). And 180 miles seems like a hopelessly inadequate under-estimate. But, let’s not quibble – it’s a lovely idea, which has quite captured my imagination.

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Oolite Now – part I

6 thoughts on “Oolite Now – part I

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Well…middle distance I hope, something much more modest than this I’m afraid. At the moment this is strictly a pipe-dream.

      1. If you do decide to have a bash at this pipe-dream give me a shout – I live a couple or three miles from High Cross (the Fosse/Watling crossroads) so I can arrange beers and supply-drops etc. for that stage if you’re in need. Good luck with your aspirations, I hope that your ankle’s fighting-fit soon.

        1. beatingthebounds says:

          That’s mighty generous Stef, not to mention very tempting. I shall remember that.
          Hogg’s comments about the Fosse way are, I think, a little misleading – perhaps they apply further south, but having spent a while combing through old geological maps, the boundary of the oolitic limestone seems to run just south of the Northamptonshire/Leicestershire border, and along the southern side of the Welland valley. So – not all that close to the Fosse Way, but quite close to what was once home territory for me.
          I’m also looking into the Fosse Way itself and to that end I bought (because I saw it second-hand) ‘Along the Roman Roads of Britian’ by J.H.B. Peel. I imagine that most of the Fosse Way is under tarmac. I do remember a Roman Road, which I used to enjoy cycling, from Little Stretton to Glooston, quite a bit of which is bridleway. (Is that near enough to you to be familiar?). That was when I was a lad and cycling off road was called ‘rough stuff’ – although I believe that the Rough Stuff Fellowship is still going strong.

          1. “… from Little Stretton to Glooston,,,” We call it the Gartree Road ‘cos we don’t talk Latin here. I’m not overly-familiar with it or with the vicinity, but I do remember spending many a night drinking at The Bulls Head in Tur Langton.

            1. beatingthebounds says:

              The Gartree Road – I knew that, it just wouldn’t come to the forefront of my mind. I used to travel through Tur Langton on a bus on my way to and from school every day. (Home in Kibworth to Robert Smyth Upper School in Market Harborough.) One of the Langton’s (I can’t remember which) used to give great sport when new bus-drivers were mis-directed into the village only to find a tight turn they couldn’t make and a long reverse to get out. Happy days! (Not for the bus-drivers obviously, but then they would subject us to the entire discography of Jethro Tull, so fair enough really…)

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