Updated: Nov 30, 2020
Recently I did the same Wiltshire walk, 8 days apart. During the first walk, the sun broke through the clouds to provide contrasting light across the landscape and the views as the sun came down were breath taking.
The weather turned for the worse over the next few days with some overnight frosts, occasional rain and heavy fog. On the second walk, the same route may well have been from another dimension as in a mere 8 days, the paths had turned to mud and visibility was spoiled by lingering mist and fog which meant seeing beyond 25 metres was impossible. But I was surprised to find beauty in the mist, and this photo of the tree on Picquet Hill looks striking. I have taken photos of this tree on many occasions, but it has never looked finer than in this misty shot.
When I walked by Longcombe Bottom in the first walk, I paused at the field above where in early summer it was a see of red poppies. On this day, the field was barren and bleak but the view was still glorious.
Before getting to Longcombe Bottom, there is a stack of hay bales in the field above and I tried to get the same shot in the mist that I got the week before. I prefer the image with the blue sky and sunset, but the misty shot offers a bleak view that still draws the eye in, albeit in a different way.
In order to show how bad the visibility was in the second walk, these next two shots illustrate it well. The first viewpoint has a clear, sunlit vista of Picquet Hill, while the second shot taken from a similar place shows the view being fogged out beyond 25 metres or so. On the second walk, the mist got thicker and deeper the higher we got, and by the time we were at Picquet Hill itself, there was an eerie silence in the midst of the fog as we trudged along in faith that we were on the right path.
One viewpoint from this walk that I will never tire of was that of Longcombe Bottom. I sometimes refer to this as the Secret Valley as I am quite protective of this view. The land is private so it is only possible to stand at the end of it and soak in the vista, but it is a favourite of mine.
Another thing I like on this walk is that it takes me past the wonderful St James' Church in Bratton. Hidden away in a valley that has been carved out by an ancient spring, this haven of peace is a welcome spot for weary travellers. While not fully open at the moment, it is open for passers by to enter for silent prayer or contemplation. I often stop for a sit down inside and reflect. I also enjoy the architecture. The chancel was rebuilt in 1854 by Giles Gilbert Scott, who also worked on Liverpool Cathedral and designed the iconic red telephone box. The exterior (like many Churches in Wiltshire) looks like a castle.
If you are interested in following my 5 mile route I have included a map below.