Sunday, October 19, 2014
The last time we were up a hillfort it was the darkish Dumpdon, near Honiton. Today it's Cadbury Castle near Bickleigh, and it's quite a contrast. The castle sits upon a very prominent, though obscure, hill north of Exeter, very open and very pretty. I say obscure because although the hill is the highest of a small range of surrounding hills, Cadbury seems like a place that nobody visits. I went there three times in the summer and on each occasion didn't meet anyone, going up or coming down, not even the usually omnipresent dogwalkers. It's a shame in some ways that it isn't more popular, because it really is a treat. The views are wide and superb, the air high and clear. I expect a strong wind cuts across here later in the year, by the look of the trees on the northwest side, bent to the wind as they are. Even on a warm afternoon there is a slight chill.
The top is owned by the National Trust, so fully accessible. The path is easy and the only temporary inhabitants are a few sheep. Good solid banks of tree lined earth enclose a comfortable circular centre. There is even a break to the wind if you can get in the right place, so that on a howling day there is always somewhere to shelter, all very well designed.
I haven't found much out about the history of the place, information appears scarce, but there is a legend in a book from the 17th century, which says that this was the residence of a fire breathing dragon who flew each evening between this hill and the one nearby at Killerton, as it guarded hoards at both locations. There are many such stories of dragons associated with hilltops. Apart from that, not much, but it is a beautiful place to get some peace and quiet.