One of my regular rides takes me through the parish of Chiddingly (in accordance with local custom, the ‘-ly’ is pronounced ‘lie’, not ‘lee’) which, like Rome, encompasses seven hills. My route crosses three of them in succession, and I’ve always liked the historical logic of their names that allows me to track my progress. From north to south, they run as follows:
ROAD TO WAR
Ride over Pick Hill,
Whose sandstone sides
Were first cratered for their ore
To arm the legions,
Its quiet woods scabbing over
Long centuries of plunder.
To Gun Hill
Where the ironmasters cast
Culverins and cannon
For Device Forts and men o’ war;
Our stolid breed of Sussex men
The muscle in Good King Hal’s arms race.
Then Thunders Hill –
These days disturbed by little more
Than tractors, Sunday motorbikes
And neglected car exhausts –
Still echoing to the martial roar
Of the past along the road.