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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Wiltshire Adventure, day 4

(Day 1; day 2; day 3.)

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I’ve been so intent on blogging about India that I almost forgot I hadn’t finished our England trip! We had another excellent breakfast (more veggie sausages!) at The Old Forge before setting out from East Kennett for Bishopstone, hopefully by way of Ogbourne St. George (isn’t that a great name?) I knew this was going to be a long day of walking, but it turned out to be a really long day of walking.

That was later, though. In the morning we just enjoyed the foggy landscape.

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We saw another white horse, this one at Winterbourne Bassett. From a Wiltshire tourism website:

Hackpen Hill lies below The Ridgeway on the edge of the Marlborough Downs and affords wonderful views of the Wiltshire countryside. Its Horse is known as the Hackpen, Broad Hinton or Winterbourne Bassett Horse and was cut in 1838, probably to commemorate Queen Victoria’s coronation. Measuring 27½ by 27½ metres, it can sometimes be seen from as far as the downs near the Cherhill horse but only when newly scoured.

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Barbury Castle Country Park.

Like I said, the original plan was to stop in Ogbourne St. George (since the NYT article makes The Inn with the Well sound awfully atmospheric, and you know I like atmospheric) for lunch or at least tea, but that turned out to be completely unrealistic. Even with bypassing the town and shaving off two (?) miles using the Gypsy Lane track, we still arrived in Bishopstone after the sun had set, tired and cranky and stressed from having to walk on the main road. What’s that, you say? Why would you have to walk on a busy road when this is meant to be a national trail?

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See that black part between the light blue and the brown? Dear National Trail people: IF I’D WANTED TO WALK ALONG A HIGHWAY I COULD HAVE DONE IT AT HOME. (We were on the road along the brown part too. No pedestrian path to be seen.) We kept asking each other, “Do you remember that Times writer mentioning this part?” Guess what: he didn’t. Darn you, Henry Shukman!

(While we’re on the subject of feeling misled, we realized as we studied the map that the Ridgeway Trail actually incorporates only a portion of the original neolithic road. The rest of it is formed by ordinary public footpaths and such. The original route is marked “Old Ridgeway.”)

We had a reservation at the Royal Oak, a very pleasant bar with a couple of rooms off the parking lot out back. This place is known for their organic local produce and beers. The food was great (we asked for something off the menu since the mushroom fettuccini wasn’t going to hack it, and wound up with a really wonderful meal–colcannon and chickpeas and tahini with kale and beets; creme brulee and pears poached in mulled wine for dessert!), but the room itself wasn’t so amazing. Margot and Sheryll (our B&B hostesses on the first two nights) had totally spoiled us; when you stay at a pub you probably won’t find it so homely (or clean). Oh well, it was clean enough.

(Okay, I’m done complaining now!)

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Kate: I get a point and a half. I asked for directions.

Me: Not that this is a competition or anything.

Kate: But I’m still winning.

(This is from day 1, on our way to Stonehenge, but I forgot to include it.)

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Enjoying the sunny afternoon, maybe an hour or so before we hit the highway.

(In the morning we took a local bus to Swindon, where we caught a double-decker to Oxford and had a great time wandering around. So Oxford is next.)

1 Comment to Wiltshire Adventure, day 4

  1. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    June 13, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Did you ever end up contacting the National Trail people with your complaints?
    All in all it really was a lovely walk. And now that I have my new pack I will be better prepared for our future walks 🙂

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.