2020 is the third year I have taken on the challenge of “Walking the Year”, it started back in 2018 when I decided to walk 2,018 miles in the year and raise funds for the Trussell Trust. I enjoyed the challenge so much that I took it on again in 2019 and again this year. Alongside this challenge I have been trying to visit each of the Wiltshire White Horses in 2020, this was the idea of my walking buddy Mandy and so far we have visited six of the eight.
I am out walking with Mandy today and we have planned our walk so I will pass the 2,020 mile target and we will also be bagging the Broad Town white horse. Despite living in the same village the current pandemic restrictions mean we travel separately to the car park at Barbury Castle Country Park (Grid Ref: SU156761).
From the car park we head west towards the Iron Age Hillfort of Barbury Castle. We visited this spot on a walk earlier in the year and it is surprisingly quiet today.
Our route goes through the ramparts of the castle and then descends to a minor road where we cross and join the Ridgeway path and within a few hundred yards reach a junction of tracks where we turn right. The map shows we should reach a bridleway on the left after 500 metres, but there is no obvious sign of it on the ground. So we continue along the track heading towards some hangers near Uffcott Farm. There are fine views of Uffcott Down behind us.
We stay with this track as it goes around fields to reach the hangers and driveway to Uffcott Farm. The hangers are part of Wroughton Airfield. The airfield opened in 1940 and was used for the assembly and storage of aircraft during World War II.
On reaching a minor road we continue straight on and then after approximately 100 metres take a footpath on the right through a field of sheep. The path turns to the left close to a security fence and then goes north for a short distance along the edge of a field before going through a gate into an area of shrub land. We follow the path to a minor road where we continue north to pass more hangers and the entrance to the National Collections Centre.
In 1979 the Science Museum took ownership of 545 acres of the former airfield and use the hangers to store large objects. Apparently this includes the world’s first Hovercraft, a Boeing 247 aircraft, a TV Detector Van and a wide range of other historical artefacts.
Staying with the minor road we reach the A4361 which we cross and continue on a minor road opposite. Soon we arrive at an Ordnance Survey trig point sitting beside the road. This is the 225th trig I have bagged.
We stay with the road ignoring two footpaths on the right. Then as we reach Salthrop Farm we take a footpath heading north across a field towards Salthrop Wood. On reaching the edge of the woodland we turn left and follow the edge of the field.
We cross a minor road and continue heading west along the edge of Basset Down Wood. At a fork in the path we go right and descend through the trees to a junction of paths where we go left over a footbridge.
The path now goes through the bottom of Quidhampton Wood to reach a junction of paths ,here we head south on a path through the trees to reach another footbridge which we cross to enter a field. We follow the path to a crossing of paths below Bincknoll Castle. Our route is to stay below the escarpment now on the route of the White Horse Trail.
We stay with the White Horse Trail until we reach the chalk carving on the side of the hill. This is the Broad Town White Horse, the seventh White Horse we have visited this year. The origins of this horse are unclear, there are reports that it was first carved in 1863, but others suggest it was done in the early 1800’s. Restoration work was done in 1991, being so close it is difficult to a appreciate the carving. So we make plans to view it from Broad Town a bit further along on our walk.
From the carving we take a path which is a steady ascent of Snow Hill.
On entering a field at the top of the hill we turn right and follow the fence line to a gate and then enter open access land and follow a path along the top of the escarpment.
Nearing a ‘B’ road we turn to the right to follow a path descending steeply to reach a minor road. We follow this road in a northerly direction towards Broadtown. From here we get a better view of the White Horse.
In the village we turn left and then right to follow a road to reach Christ Church. This church was built in 1844 and we make use of a convenient bench to stop for our lunch.
Refreshed from lunch we resume our walk by retracing our steps back into the village and rejoining the White Horse Trail by turning right along Pye Lane. We continue on the Trail passing Springfield House to join a track that soon enters a field.
Our route stays with the White Horse Trail as we head towards the church tower of St Peter’s Church in Clyffe Pypard.
The path runs besides the church and we pop in to have a quick look. There are a few Commonwealth War Graves here, including A.G Williams a Pilot with the Royal New Zealand Airforce who died aged 20 and Flying Officer A.G Moss a Flying Instructor who died aged 26 both lost their lives the on 2nd March 1943. Presumably these two were stationed at RAF Clyffe Pypard which operated as an Elementary Flying Training School from 13 September 1941 until disbanded on 5th November 1947. The grass runways have since returned to farmland.
Resuming our walk we pass the Goddard Arms. According to the Parish website this pub was once at the centre of village life but it is now closed and there are concerns it might be lost to a private dwelling. There are plans to try and purchase the property and run it as a community pub. Let’s hope they are successful, sadly too many pubs are being closed and communities are not getting the opportunity to safeguard local assets.
Just after the pub we take a footpath on the left up a driveway and follow the way markers around a garden to enter woodland. The path now ascends steeply through trees to reach a minor road where we turn left and continue uphill to reach a junction . Here we turn right on a lane heading towards Nebo Farm. Soon we pop through a gap in the hedge to visit the Nebo Farm Ordnance Survey Trig Pillar located close to an aerial mast, this is my 226th bagged.
Back on the road we continue past the entrance to Nebo Farm and then meeting a junction with a minor road we take a footpath on the left going through the hedge line and across a field towards barns.
As we near a cottage a chap helpfully gives us directions and we take a track passing to the right of the cottages and then follow a footpath straight across a field towards Stanmore Copse. In the far distance we can see the Landsdowne Monument on Cherhill Hill.
We stay with the path heading in a southerly direction to reach a tarmac lane near to cottages. Here we turn left and follow this lane to a minor road where we turn right and head into Winterbourne Bassett. We continue through the village to pass the Winterbourne pub, which was previously known as the White Horse.
Just after passing the pub we take a slight detour from our route to visit the church of St Katherine and St Peter. Parts of this church date from the 14th and 15th centuries and it underwent a restoration in 1857-8. It is a fine looking church, but unfortunately we are not able to go inside.
After walking around the church we head back to the road and turn right and go steadily uphill to reach the A4361. We turn right and then within a few yards cross the road and take a footpath on the left which heads uphill on a track. We get a good view of the Hackpen White Horse from here.
This track takes us on a steady ascent before reaching the base of the escarpment and then it is a short ferocious climb.
At a junction of paths on Berwick Bassett Down we continue along the track now heading east to reach a junction with the Ridgeway. Here we turn left.
Our route is now very straight forward following the Ridgeway path along the top of Hackpen Hill. It is here that I finally notch up my 2,020 miles for the year.
I now make a light diversion from the Ridgeway to visit the Ordnance Survey trig point on Hackpen Hill. I tried to bag this trig earlier in the year, but there were crops in the field so decided to wait until I could access it without doing any damage. It is my third trig of the day and the 227th I have bagged.
Returning to the Ridgeway I rejoin Mandy and we continue along the track to cross a road and then staying with the Ridgeway head back towards Barbury Castle.
As we near the Hillfort we cross the road and head up to the ramparts. It is a cracking evening and there is an absolutely stunning sunset.
Now it is just a short walk back to the car park. We have timed it just right because the light is failing fast. It has been a cracking walk covering just over eighteen and a half miles. We now just have the Alton Barnes White Horse to bag to complete the full set of Wiltshire horses in 2020.
To follow my walk you will need Ordnance Survey Outdoor Explorer OS ExplorerMaps 169 Cirencester & Swindon and 157 Marlborough & Savernake Forest
15th October 2020
© Two Dogs and an Awning (2020)
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Walking can be hazardous and is done entirely at your own risk. It is your responsibility to check your route and navigate using a map and compass.