THE WESSEX RIDGEWAY: From the Stones to the Wheel – Bratton to Warminster

13 September. Today the sun shone for the whole day and the walking was amazing. I left my superb air b and b and headed towards the Downs via Bratton church. I was reminded of my time three years ago walking the Pilgrims’ Way , when, as then, I came across a lady arranging the Church flowers. This coming weekend there is a National Bike and Hike to raise monies for the maintenance of churches and she was setting up a stunning arrangement in an old bicycle.

I lingered a while in the churchyard and around the Springs, listening to the birdsong before summoning up the energy to begin the steep climb up to the top of the Downs. I found it quite hard – I am not as fit as I was three years ago.

Once I had done the first steep pull up from Coombe Bottom a more gentle climb took me to the Imber Range Path. This runs contiguous with the Wessex Ridgeway for much of this part of the route.

Fine views began to appear over to my right. I passed no one and the only human I could see was on a tractor spreading muck a long , long way in the distance. Army  range danger signs were at frequent intervals on my left but I did not hear any artillery fire.

After walking alone for quite some time I began to bump into the occasional dog walker – usually a sign that a parking area is nearby. So it was here.

I reached the site of the Westbury White Horse and there were quite a few people out enjoying the sunshine. I got a good view of the horse. The figure was originally cut to celebrate Alfred the Great’s victory over the Danes.

I also explored the ramparts and long barrow and general area around Bratton Camp. I only had a short distance to cover today so had plenty of time for exploring.

Continuing along The Way, I soon left the people behind and once again felt very alone in this ancient landscape. For several miles I was left quietly with my own thoughts taking in the views. What a blessing to be walking this part of the route on such a fine day!Eventually the Way left the chalk track and passed down (very close to the warning signs and red flag!) through a path between fields.

In the dip at the bottom of this path I stopped a while and felt that deep peace of an easy and full connection with Nature, a Universal Spirit, my ancestors – whatever you will. I am still some way from what I consider Hardy country but I can feel the pull. The cattle reminded me of Tess, the dairymaid and I remembered how she had crossed Salisbury Plain ( which had been  to my left for most of the morning).  Soon, soon. I am guessing there may he a few more Hardy references in a couple of days.

I had a steep climb out of this field and across several more and then found myself walking around the perimeter of West Wilts Golf Club and looking at the drop down to Kidnapper’s Hole.

A slightly amusing signed warned golfers not to climb over the fence.

It was an easy amble down into Warminster. I had time to sit in the park for a while and wander through the nature reserve before settling into my accommodation for the night. A well- loved family home which had passed through the generations since it was built in the 1890s.

All in all a glorious day’s walking.11 miles

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