Updated: Sep 18, 2020
Having already explored Oldbury Camp and the area around the Lansdowne monument on Cherhill Down, I wanted to take a look at Ranscombe Bottom. In this first image, you can see the ripples beyond the needle of the monument that appear to dip down into a deep valley. This is Ranscombe Bottom.
Before leaving home I devised a circular walk that would take me from Quemerford, towards Calstone Wellington before taking the path right through Ranscombe Bottom itself. I would then head up on to the Roman Road and walk up and over Morgan's Hill, before descending through the village of Calstone Wellington and eventually retracting my steps back to the car. There is a very large layby on the A4 near Quemerford, which is a good place to start a wander. For anyone retracing my steps I have put a map at the bottom of this post.
I should point out though that part of the route through the Calstone area is muddy and wet, even in summer. Some of the main tracks have deep mud and waterlogged areas so appropriate footwear is recommended.
After leaving the A4 at Gate Farm the path took me across fields towards Calstone Mill, before turning left along the river. It seems that every way you turn you get a different view of the Lansdowne monument. Eventually you walk into woodland where you are high up and the river is far below. A quick diversion here can take you to Calstone springs, which is well worth a look. But today I pressed on to my goal.
At the entrance to Ranscombe Bottom there is a National Trust sign referencing Calstone Coombs.
As you walk through the Bottom, you see lots of undulating downland, multiple terracettes and the further you go in you experience total silence. The sides of the Bottom and the hills around mean you are marooned from outside noises and I can honestly say this was one of the quietest places I had ever experienced. As you get to the far end, the path takes you uphill to a stile and at the top the views are glorious as you look back through the Bottom, left up to Morgan's Hill, right to Cherhill Down.
My walk then took me along the rather dull Roman Road which was as straight as expected, but on the left as you walk towards Morgan's Hill is a field full of Tumuli. Part of Baltic Farm, there is permissive access to the site which has a barrow cemetery, and remains of an Iron Age farmstead. Another welcome diversion.
My walk continued up and over Morgan's Hill to the Wansdyke, which I followed back down to the Roman Road before following the cereal fields back to Calstone Wellington. While trying to follow a bridleway past Calstone Mill, I noticed that the owner had diverted the path, so it went around, rather than through their property. It seems that the owner of the land wanted to move the right of way and has been going through the legal process to do so. I always feel a bit sorry for people who have rights of way going through their garden so I was happy to follow the diversion.
Calstone Wellington has a delightful little Church if you want to have a rest and gather your thoughts. When I got home and mapped out my route, I noticed that the walk is exactly 6.66 miles.