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February 14, 2006

A Valentine's Ode to Kenilworth Castle: my significant other

Writing about web page http://www.celcat.com/kworth/walkmap.html

I imagine that a normal person would find it difficult to imagine just how over the moon I was to discover that the Warwick Boar online has dragged out from its archives and reproduced a piece about my steady teddy: Kenilworth, this week, even though it was preposterously short and dangling on like a loose thread at the tail end of the Opinion section. I did discover two tantalizing facts about the settlement, however. Firstly, that the land now that lies alongside the number 12 bus route was the site of the first English parliament formed by Simon De Montfort in 1266. Secondly, that Sir Walter Raleigh planted the first English potato crop in the Little Virginia area, nearby to the castle.

There's something mystical and numinous about Kenilworth Castle, particularly when approaching it from the west along Purlieu Lane from High House Farm. The lane undulates and when you reach the crest of the knoll after the farm suddenly the haunting castle ruins come into sight. Its particularly eerie on a drizzly or misty morning. I regularly go X country running along this route, which is why it is so intimately familiar to me. I always circumnavigate the castle along the muddy path that winds round the castle's perimeter, starting at the kissing gate across the road from the Queen and Castle pub and then embracing the red sandstone edifice as I run around it. Its a highly romantic experience! But also solitary. I might as well be Wordsworth wondering lonely as a cloud, surveying the daffodils. Old Kenilworth itself is equally sublime – the perfect biscuit tin English village of ancient thatched cottages and even more ancient buildings of red sandstone that, nevertheless seems to nestle symbiotically and serendipidously with a functioning modern town. Unlike Warwick Kenilworth is also relatively undiscovered and unspoilt by hoards of tourists.


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