Morgan's Hill, Calne
Updated: Nov 14, 2020
If I can encourage you to do one thing in your life, it would be to visit Morgan's Hill on a clear summer's day and just take in the view. It is truly one of the great vantage points in Wiltshire.
This ancient site has much to commend it. From a Roman road that skirts its northern perimeter to the 5th century Wansdyke marking this area as Wessex, this place has a history. Even it's name has a tale, named after a poor local man, John Morgan who was hanged here in 1720 as punishment for murdering his uncle.
Like most chalk downland in Wiltshire it has steep sides which make ascending it a bit of a workout but the payback is worth every effort if you bring a camera with you.
As you reach the plateau at the top and walk along it you will notice the Lansdowne monument on the top of the next hill along, Cherhill Down. Catch it at the right angle and you can also glimpse the Cherhill White Horse. If you know the local geography you can trace a route through the landscape across to Roundway Down, where the famous civil war battle led to the Parliamentarians being defeated when many of their cavalry rode to their deaths off the edge of the steep hill. This landscape would have been a battlefield in July 1643.
Another curiosity at the top of Morgan's Hill are the two radio masts. Originally the site of a Marconi wireless station in 1913, the current radio masts act as communication relays for Wiltshire Constabulary.
Like many of these sites the wildlife is abundant and rare. Scots pine, Juniper and Yew trees can be spotted and in the summer there are plenty of wild flowers and butterflies.
Nature and history together make this a worthy place to visit.
The hill can be accessed as a circular walk from the car park where you ascend to the top, walk all the way across the plateau before descending down to the byway and walking back to the start point.
Park in Smallgrain picnic area which is just next to the North Wilts Golf Club, between Devizes and Calne. A short walk up the grass slope leads to the byway where you turn right and walk for about half a mile to the reserve entrance.
More information and a reserve leaflet can be downloaded here: Morgan's Hill