A welcome return to Wiltshire for Glyn after his selfless trip to Pembrokeshire in South West Wales in search of links to his home county. We might call it a holiday but he assures us it was all in the interests of Hidden Wiltshire!
The link is of course that the blue stones at Stonehenge were sourced from the Preseli Hills some 5,000 years ago. And it’s now thought the exact location was a stone circle at Maun Wawn. Evidence suggests the stone circle was dismantled after around 300 years leaving the three stones that remain today. The profile of the hole left by one of the stones matches exactly one of the blue stones, the smaller stones, at Stonehenge. We can only guess why our ancestors decided to transport these two tonne stones the 150 miles from Maun Wawn to Stonehenge, or how!
As we recorded the podcast (usually on a Friday) we were preparing for the next Hidden Wiltshire/Wiltshire Museum Guided Walk in the hills above Edington, taking in a view of the long barrow of Tinhead. We were looking forward to seeing what local finds David Dawson from Wiltshire Museum would produce during the walk.
And for anyone listening to the podcast on the day it goes live (Sunday 15 August) spare a thought for Glyn and Paul who will be pulling ragwort together with some fantastic volunteers from the ranks of Hidden Wiltshire’s followers at East Hill Farm, Warminster. East Hill Farm sits on the Imber Range where the land is rented from the MOD by the Guy family. The quid quo pro is that Frankie Guy has kindly agreed that we can do a special podcast with her on the farm soon. A unique opportunity to visit a part of Salisbury Plain permanently closed to members of the public.
Then on to this week’s walk. This was a walk that Paul did in 2020 as described in his blog on the Hidden Wiltshire website of 10 June 2020. The walk was of around 12 kms taking in the Ebble Valley villages of Ebbesbourne Wake and Alvediston before heading into the hills on the watershed above the valleys of the Ebble and the Nadder. After an irritating encounter near the beginning of the walk, and some way finding problems due to overgrown paths, it turned into a stunning walk. The villages along this end of the valley where the Ebble rises are sleepy hideways with some beautiful old buildings. St Mary’s Church, Alvediston is the resting place of British Prime Minister Anthony Eden who lived in Alvediston Manor until his death in 1977.
The views looking up into the hills surrounding the Ebble are wide raging, giving the sense of being cosseted by the geography. But once up into the hills on White Sheet Hill and Gallows Hill the views in all directions are outstanding. The photographs in the blog don’t really do it justice. On this ridge is the old Salisbury to Shaftesbury turnpike, which also at some point was part of the Herepath, a military road. All along this ancient road the expanse of south west Wiltshire and Dorset to the south, and the Nadder Valley and its hills to the north reveals itself with a different perspective at every bend along the way. Whilst the four kilometres along the ridge became tiresome due to the heat and hard surface, the views more than made up for it.
The finale to the walk is the descent into Prescombe Down, a Natural England Nature Reserve. In June 2020 this was a peaceful haven from the madness taking place in the outside world. To the background sounds of tawny owls, cuckoos and guinea fowl Paul found a grassy bank on which to lie and savour the tranquillity. However, this turned out to be unwise interlude as evidenced by the seven ticks he took home with him.
With the sun beginning to sink towards the hill tops surrounding the villages it was time for a few final photographs before returning to the car parked in the centre of Ebbesbourne Wake, tantalisingly close to The Horseshoe Pub which in these times of pandemic was closed. Hopefully when you do this walk it will have come through the other side and once again be open for business.
And so to the wrap up.
Steve Dixon’s piece leading into the discussion about the walk is entitled “Shadows Travel Fast”, a nod towards the deep shadows formed by the sinking sun in the many combes in this part of Wiltshire. As ever the piece in the introduction and the end of the podcast is entitled “The Holloway”.
The next Hidden Wiltshire/Wiltshire Museum guided walk will be on Monday 30 August 2021 and will be to Erlestoke Wood and Salisbury Plain. You can get tickets using the link below.
Don’t forget to subscribe to the Hidden Wiltshire Newsletter from the website.
Thanks again to Tim Kington at TKC Sales, the UK distributors of Lowa walking boots and shoes, for the 20% discount on their products to Hidden Wiltshire podcast listeners. Listen to the show for the discount code. It can’t last forever! You’ll find a link to Lowa Boots’ website below.
And finally, help us keep the lights on by heading to the Hidden Wiltshire Online shop. Link below.
You can follow the walk we discuss in this episode here Eden's Last Post
Glyn’s photographs can be seen on his Instagram feed @coy_cloud
Steve Dixon’s sound art can be found on Soundcloud where his username is River and Rail Steve Dixon River and Rail. His photographs can be found on Instagram at @stevedixon_creative and his graphic design business website is at Steve Dixon Creative