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  • Writer's picturePaul Timlett

The Lavingtons and the Wessex Ridgeway

Updated: Mar 16

Meteorogically speaking Spring had sprung. But waking early on a March morning the sight that greeted me as I opened the curtains was one of falling snow and fields of white fluffy down. This was not on the agenda when my neighbour and regular walking buddy Stu and I had planned this walk a week before hand. But as rough tough outdoor types we had both experienced a lot worse and we determined to go ahead with the walk. After all, how bad could it be? The answer was – very!

This is another walk I’d wanted to do for a very long time. Whilst the villages of West Lavington and Market Lavington are well known to many as they barrel through in their cars, I wanted to explore some of the many footpaths and bridleways that not only connected the two villages one to another but also led their inhabitants out onto Salisbury Plain over hundreds of years if not longer. This was never intended to be a detailed exploration of the two villages – each is worthy of its own blog as they both contain many fine and historic buildings. I wanted to explore their setting, the landscape in which they sit.

It is possible to begin this circular/figure of eight walk in any number of places. If you are arriving by car (as we did) parking is easier in Market Lavington but I wanted to end the walk descending from the heights of Salisbury Plain into West Lavington so we looked for a parking place close to All Saints Church (as I’ve said in previous blogs, when looking for a parking place I normally start with the church). The church sits on an island circled by narrow roads (one of which is the A360), but next to the Manor House you will find a large extension to the graveyard next to which is a small layby big enough for four or five cars, if parked considerately.

The Manor House, West Lavington

From the parking place we headed back along the lane in the direction of the church which was framed by a thatched wall to our left.

All Saints Church, West Lavington

As we planned to finish the walk later in the day with a visit to the church we continued past this turn for a short distance to the curiously named Rickbarton. Sounding like a 1950s American detective it is a narrow lane that descends steeply to the A360, with views to the heights of Salisbury Plain and the strip lynchets on Rams Cliff beyond. At the bottom the lane crosses Bulkington Brook, which counter intuitively flows north, rising as it does from the springs in The Warren wood to the south west of the village. I say counter intuitively as not far away the Till rises and flows south.


The route crosses the busy A360 near a spot that will be well known to anyone that has driven this stretch of the A360. One hundred metres away the road narrows alarmingly to wind its way between ancient properties with All Saints Church looking down from above. This frequently becomes a choke point as large lorries, buses and coaches try to squeeze through, there being room for only one in each direction. There are some beautiful old buildings here and I always feel sorry for them as I wonder how many times they have been struck by passing vehicles. I once nearly ran down an ex-MP for Devizes at this spot who stepped into the road in front of me without looking as I cycled past. Somehow it was my fault!

The road where we crossed is slightly wider and in front of us was a little green overlooked by Dial House, a handsome early 18th century house with a sun dial over its front door. A little further north West Lavington was, on 26 April 1689, devastated by a fire that destroyed many of the old buildings. Whilst not on our itinerary today it is worth taking a stroll along the main street to see some of the buildings that survived, one of which has two fire hooks mounted on the facia used to drag thatch down from the roof in order to create a break to the spreading flames. We however continued straight ahead climbing the lane past Dial House on our left.