Visiting The Natural Spring At Starwell, Biddestone
It’s funny how you can forget places that you visited as a child until someone mentions it one day.In a conversation with a friend about local natural places of interest to visit, I was reminded of Starwell or Holywell as we called it when I was young.It’s just a 10-15 minute car journey from where we live, situated in a field off a country lane.I hadn’t visited it since I was about 7 and I only had a memory of finding ’stars’ that I was told back then were fossilised star fish. Local folklore says they are fossilised Elder flowers as there are tress that grow near the sacred spring.
The day we went it was glorious, not very hot but very sunny.After trudging through a boggy stream (wear wellies!), the natural spring lays in the midst of a field which is rented to a local farmer to graze his cows.We had a good look around the site which has a stream which splits into two running from it.The left hand stream running faster as opposed to the right hand stream which is deeper, so keep an eye on young children.
The Starwell (Holywell) gets its name from the tiny cross sections of Crinoids, a plant like animal (think sea anemones) but these are fossilised from 80 million years ago.You have to sift through silt for a short while before finding any as they are teeny tiny so you do have to look very carefully.It was a very relaxing way to spend the afternoon and it wasn’t just the fossilised Crinoids we found.We found fresh water shrimp, muscles ( we found a very tiny one) and snails inhabit the fresh water spring.The kids were fascinated finding them all amongst the bogbean.
We had a picnic during our visit and drunk from the spring, being carefully not to touch the bottom as this disturbs the silt and makes the water cloudy and undrinkable.I had to tell the kids repeatedly as we sifted for the Crinoids not to go near the spring opening as we intended to fill the empty plastic bottles we brought with us.But they repeatedly didn’t listen.
We really didn’t want to leave and it was so idyllic to be out in the countryside wading through the cold spring water in good company.This visit certainly had a more memorable impact on me this time than it did when I visited 30 odd years ago.I really do look forward to going back there again soon.
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