Updated: Nov 14, 2020
Roundway Down is an Iron Age hill fort on the outskirts of Devizes and is an imposing sight. This steep hill can be seen for miles around. I often spot it when driving through Farleigh Hungerford in Somerset, and it must be 15 miles from there as the crow flies.
This steep, chalk, grass covered down really is a thing of beauty, only surpassed by the views from the top. On a summer's day the views are among the best in Wiltshire.
When you are up there you can do a good circular walk that takes you over the top of the down and you can continue into the adjacent covert for some welcome shade. It is well used by locals across all the seasons for walking.
The top of the hill feels very exposed, but you see several isolated trees prospering and adding to the drama of the landscape.
When walking in this area you are not far from the Devizes White Horse with its views across to All Cannings and Pewsey Vale. Morgan's Hill and Cherhill Down can easily be seen from the top and this connected landscape is worthy of deep exploration.
When I visited in July, the adjacent fields were full of golden crops which were almost ready for harvest which made the colours perfect for photography. Making my way through the village of Roundway, I continued up a single track lane which veered left and eventually gave way to a gravel covered road on the plateau. Once I parked up, I followed the path around the top of the down, stopping to watch a group of men fly their model gliders on the top. It was a very hot day so I made my way into the woods to get some shade, stopping often to take in the views. This place is one of Wiltshire's true gems, a place for all seasons that offers so much.
The Battle of Roundway Down
When you are on the top of the down, you will notice how steep the sides of the hill are. You may also hear it referred to as Oliver's Castle which hints of its links back to Oliver Cromwell and the English Civil War. On 13th July 1643, a great battle of the Civil War was fought in this landscape, where the Royalists were victorious over the Parliamentarians. In their panic, many Parliamentarians fled on horseback. Not realising how steep the hill was, many galloped straight over the edge to their deaths. As you walk around the hill, try to imagine what it must have been like on that day. I like to think that the landscape has not changed much since that day. There are a few signs dotted around the hill which fill you in on the Civil War history of the site.
The village of Roundway is just off the A361 as you head North out of Devizes. As you head up the hill towards Devizes White Horse take a left turn. After a short while the tarmac gives way to gravel and you will head to a car park at the far corner of the woods. From here you can access all the footpaths the Down and the Covert.