Ivinghoe Hill

George U. Robins

Here, where three counties join hands in alliance,
Terrace on terrace and glade upon glade,
Ashridge looms up like a keep of the giants,
Buttressed with beech woods from Aldbury to Gade.
Northwards the vale stretches smiling and spacious,
Spurs of the Chilterns the far distance fill;
Never held dreamland a prospect more gracious:
Sunlight and shadow on Ivinghoe hill.

Here, uneffaced by two thousand years' weather,
Scarred on the chalk down and stamped in the clay,
Linking the Eastland and Westland together,
Runs the long line of the great Icknield Way.
Here, in the days of the dawning of history,
Marched the Iceni to plunder and kill;
Over it all hangs the glamour of mystery:
Shades of the past under Ivinghoe hill.

Wonder's the knoll where the beacon was lighted,
Northward and eastward the red message runs
"Philip's tall ships in the Channel are sighted;
Arm, for your country hath need of her sons!"
Straightway they rose and flung back the Armada.
Lives the same spirit within our hearts still?
Can England muster such champions to guard her?
Mists of the future round Ivinghoe hill.

Hush! A brown form through the gorse stems is stealing,
Off to the vale with a wave of his brush!
Heedless of aught that the future's concealing,
Back to the present we come with a rush.
One ringing shout to the horsemen who follow,
Waking the woods till they echo and thrill;
Now the horn answers: Hark holloa! hark holloa!
Huntsman and hound upon Ivinghoe hill.

Ivinghoe Beacon is a striking hill in the Chilterns, lying on the ancient ridgeway.

The three counties which meet there are Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire. it has far-reaching views over the plains around, and it is said you can see five counties from its summit.

The writer, George Upton Robins, was born in Hertfordshire and presumably hunted across these very Chiltern Hills. He was a captain in the infantry in World War I and died in 1915.