Ridgeway, 2013

Ridgeway (UK National Trail), 87 miles, 6 walking days, June 2013

Avebury – Chiseldon – Letcombe Regis – Goring – Watlington – Wendover – Ivinghoe Beacon

Of all the UK National Trails I’ve walked so far (ten), the Ridgeway was the easiest and recommended as a starter trail. It is to be remembered for the views (we had good weather all the way except on one day); the firmness of the trail (no slippery chalk except on the day it rained); walking past the Prime Minister’s country home Chequers and smiling and waving at the CCTV cameras (no response!); the profusion of soaring red kites on the eastern section (they are truly beautiful birds); the variety and quality of the local craft beers in the various pubs we visited; beautifully shaped copses between East Kennett and Chiseldon; the view looking north-west from White Horse Hill showing a valley reminiscent of the Yorkshire Wolds; horse riders on Compton Down on Sunday morning; Didcot Power Station as seen from the trail (yes really, an eclectic mix of beauty and the beast); the RAF biplane in one of the stained-glass windows of St. Botolph’s Church near Swyncombe (was St. Botolph an aviator?); the rather large bull protecting his herd of cows and calves in a field between South Stoke and North Stoke (scary; we gave him a wide berth!); unusual brickwork of the viaduct over the Thames at South Stoke; full-size statue of a horse made from twisted bits of wood in a garden at North Stoke (similar in style to Gunther von Hagen’s Body Worlds creations); a mix of yellow-flowering rapeseed plus red poppies in a field approaching North Farm (a beautiful juxtaposition of colours); Grim’s Ditch (reminiscent of Offa’s Dyke); bunches of wild orchids; and much more …  Truly a delightful walk.

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