Wiltshire and Me

By Glyn Coy

If you follow this site and all the social media offshoots, you might be forgiven for thinking that I'm passionate about the Wiltshire landscape. I've grown to love the countryside in this beautiful county simply by travelling through it with my eyes open. I have a curiosity about everything I see and have trained my eyes to look for the history around me.

In the three or four years I've been doing the Hidden Wiltshire project I've seen so much of it, but I'm also aware that I've only scratched the surface. In the quieter Winter months I often have my head inside the ordnance survey maps looking for new features in the landscape that I've never been to, and I'm thankful to have so many followers who can always assist me to find new places.

But I'm not a native to these parts. In fact I only ended up here in 2006, when I was already in my 30's. There was no great desire to live in Wiltshire either. I had a young family, we wanted to live somewhere a bit more rural and I was doing a lot of my work from home so wasn't tied to an office. So we opened up the map and looked West from London. Wiltshire seemed to be the best fit so we spent 6 months travelling back and forth trying to find somewhere to live. You could say we ended up here by accident.

Originally, I come from the Liverpool area. In fact there have been Coy's in Liverpool since the 1830's so as I and all of my siblings have left the city we have broken a tie that dates back around 180 years. Thomas Coy, born in 1792 was born into a family of Lincolnshire stonemasons who travelled around the country in the early 1800's building churches. They settled in Liverpool around 1838 and put down some roots.

Over 100 years later, my grandfather, Eric Coy, actually moved down to Wiltshire during World War Two. Tuberculosis in early adult life prevented him joining the army, but his engineering skills put him to use in the Ministry of Defence. He was sent down here and lived in Chippenham, and eventually brought his family too. He travelled around the airfields of Wiltshire servicing Spitfire engines, and I was delighted to see the documentary "Secret Spitfires" which told the history of this fine aircraft in Wiltshire. After the war he stayed on in Chippenham for a few years until the desire to be closer to extended family brought them back to Liverpool in the 1950's.

Growing up around Liverpool was very different to Wiltshire. Although I didn't live in the city itself and had a relatively rural upbringing, the city was only 15 miles away and very accessible. If I stood on the nearby hills I could see the imposing Cathedrals in the distance and the docks. There was a big football culture, and it seemed like weekends would revolve around the match on the Saturday, and everyone seemed to know someone who was famous. My grandfather Eric was on first name terms with Harold Wilson when he was Prime Minister, as Harold was the local Labour MP and Eric was Chair of the local Labour party. Growing up I was amazed to hear that my Dad used to be a member of The Cavern and would watch The Beatles before they were famous. Then he would tell me how he used to deliver newspapers to Paul McCartney's house. Or how he grew up in Knowsley and was good friends with Tom Evans and Willy Russell

But I left Liverpool behind to hit the bright lights of London in 1994 and I never went back to live, although I still visit regularly as my parents are still there.

Although I enjoyed Liverpool and London I've always loved the wide open spaces of countryside. Much of my childhood outside was spent in North Wales as my parents had a caravan there and as a teenager I loved to climb mountains in Snowdonia and soak in the views. While the hills of Wiltshire are not as dramatic they have an undulating beauty of their own. When I took this shot of the Calstone Downs I thought that these hills are as beautiful as any I have seen in the world.

I've always enjoyed photography and using my camera but it only really became a big hobby about 6 years ago when I started to invest in some good camera equipment. This then led to trying out aerial photography through drones, and eventually I realised that I needed a project - and Hidden Wiltshire was born. It has a small but loyal (and growing) audience who are all interested in seeing Wiltshire through the photos that get shared. It also gave me the confidence to put some of the material into a book, which many people have now bought. It has also been rewarding to find other people along the way who share my passion for exploring the county and sharing their experiences, and many have contributed to this site with their own reflections.

As I write this we are still in a nationwide lockdown, which means many of us can't get out into the Wiltshire landscape. How we miss it, and long to get back out there again. At the moment I feel that once I'm let loose I will pack a bag and just walk for days. If you ever see me out there do come and say hello.


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