16 September : The weather changed overnight and all at once it was that season of “mists and mellow fruitfulness”. I traipsed through wet fields past Ludwell watercress beds and then began the long, slow climb up to the view point at Win Green. Not much of a view today but a feeling of claustrophobic envelopment by the mist.
There was a feeling of calmness as I descended the other side into the pleasant, peaceful area of Under Win Green.
I walked for a mile or so alone through the woods and across a field track when all at once I was jolted from my reverie by a group of about thirty or so landrovers etc parked up ahead of me and a large gathering of people. As I got closer I realised they were carrying guns.
I asked one lady it was safe for me to carry along the footpath and initially she was not too keen but there was absolutely no detour for me to take. One of the refreshment personnel guided me around behind the shoot as the birds began to fly out of the woods and gunfire began. I saw one bird (one of many shot) fall from the sky and be retrieved by a dog. Not a pleasant experience. This was not something that sat comfortably with me. I left the area as soon as I could; walked adjacent to a sheep field and arrived in Tollard Royal.
I took time here to look inside the Tollard Royal church and saw King Johns Hunting Lodge. It was a long very gentle climb along the track from Tollard Royal into Ashmore. There was light drizzle and the ground was wet and flinty underfoot. Ashmore, itself was a pretty village and I ate my lunch overlooking the pond.
Here was where I left Wiltshire and crossed the border into Dorset. Because I was not staying the night on the Ridgeway route itself I made a detour at Ashmore and followed lanes for a while. I perhaps should have checked the contour lines on the map more closely because these lanes were extremely hilly and hard work. I reached a main road between Blandford and Salisbury and felt very tired. It was a hard slog along this busy road until I at last found myself in the fields again.
The sun finally came out as I descended past some sunflowers into the extremely pretty village of Iwerne Minster with its Thirteenth century church and excellent village store.
Sadly not my most pleasant day. I let the shoot rather spoil it for me. However, the village store in Iwerne Minster was a wonderful find. A great shopkeeper, good coffee, delicatessen and a well-kept shop absolutely stocked full of everything one could want.
A quiet evening in a local inn followed. I washed a few clothes only to discover that the heated towel rail didn’t work so resorted to using a hairdryer. Oh well – tomorrow is another day.
Around 13 miles with my detour
(No horse today)