THE WESSEX RIDGEWAY: From the Stones to the Wheel – Devizes to Market Lavington

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Wednesday 11 September:  Resumed the Wessex Ridgeway from the end of The Quakers Walk, Devizes and walked along the Southern side of the Kennet and Avon canal. Weather was a bit drizzly and I only passed one hardy couple. There was a slight detour where the towpath was closed and a trek along the A 361, but I soon found myself in the countryside on the outskirts of Devizes. The weather did not improve and although it was only light drizzle, a bitterly cold wind blowing across the immense open fields made going tough. I was grateful for the modest climb over Etchilhampton Hill and the shelter  provided on the other side.

The walk then improved as I entered delightful holloways, reminding me of my pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury three years ago. After crossing a main road I entered the green lanes around Stert. What a calm and picturesque area!

Just after the old railway bridge I came across Fullaway Farm, with its resident noisy gaggle of geese…………….

…….and herd of cows and growing calves

.A backward glance afforded a view of a delightful little church set on the ridge. With me was the constant reminder that Autumn is now with us as I pinched a few blackberries. This area was a very pleasant amble along secretive dips and hollows, twists and turns until I was once again back walking across farmland.

The rain began again as I crossed the main GWR line carefully and continued across open fields. It took a bit of map reading and use of GPS to negotiate my way through Cuckoo Farm until I entered the idyllic village of Urchfont. When I walk I often come across these delightful little hidden communities with their pretty thatched cottages, duckponds and flower filled baskets and Urchfont was an unexpected pleasure.

The rains began again and the highlight for me of today’s walk was the amazing Urchfont Community shop. The pub, where I had hoped to take shelter was not yet open so the shop staff asked me in, pulled me up a stall and served me hot chocolate. What an asset to this village. No end of people came in whilst I was there; not just to use the Post Office and buy groceries ( and it was very well stocked) but also just to have a natter.

Although the rain was lightening it was still very misty up on the actual ridge so I decided to continue my trek to Market Lavington via the downland footpaths, through distinctly horsey (and alpaca?) Country.

I reached my bed for the night at The Green Dragon nice and early and was thrilled with the accommodation.

10 miles on map (walked 12 1/2 with meanders)

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