Childhood recollection of Kelston Roundhill

Tom Teague discovered this web site which evoked childhood memories. He writes

When I was a boy in the 1960s, once or twice a year, I remember being taken with my younger brother and sisters from our then home in Liverpool to visit relatives in the Bristol and Bath area. I have a vivid memory of a small hill with what always seemed to me to be a very distinctive but rather sinister clump of trees at the summit. You really couldn’t miss it. It almost always seemed to be on the skyline. I have seen it from Bristol and from Bath, but I have a particular memory of seeing it from the car as we drove between Keynsham and Bath. Not having made that journey again since about 1970, my memory of the feature may be unreliable.

This week I happened to be working in Bristol. For some reason I can’t explain, I have often thought of that hill during the intervening decades. This time I asked a lady where I was working and she told me she thought it was Kelston Round Hill. The position of the hill on the map does accord exactly with my memory, but the photos I’ve seen on the internet are all fairly recent and they don’t quite match what I recall having seen. My memory is not of a particularly dense clump, but of a small number of trees, at least one of which was a little misshapen. That may be the feature that made the sight so distinctive and unmistakeable. I’m as certain as I can be that it was Kelston Hill that I remember seeing, and it occurs to me that some changes may have taken place during the 50+ years that have elapsed since I last saw it. For example, more trees may have grown to maturity since then, making the older trees less noticeable or even masking them from sight. I’ve considered whether it may be that I saw the hill when there were no leaves on the trees, but I don’t think that explains the discrepancy. We most certainly did visit the area during the summer, although I seem to recall one visit in late winter or early spring.

An old photo of Kelston Roundhill, more as Tom recalls it (from the Internet, no attribution given)

I can’t explain why this peculiar landmark should have continued to fascinate me for so many years, long after I last saw it, but the fact is that the memory is still quite vivid. Incidentally, we never once visited the hill. I only ever saw it from some distance, on the skyline.

Do you happen to have any old photographs from the mid to late 1960s by any chance? Can you shed any light on why the trees now seem more numerous and dense than they did then?

Of course, it may just be the unreliable memory of an old man!

Incidentally, I was delighted to make my first ‘modern’ sighting of Kelston Hill (i.e.since 1969-70) yesterday afternoon, from the top of Clifton Observatory. It was very far away, but the approximate bearing (about 30 degrees south of due east) seems to match the position of Kelston Hill, and I’m sure I correctly identified it.

Tom asks if anyone can send in more photos of Kelston Clump as it used to be, in its more sinister state…

About williamheath
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