Walking around Avebury

Last Sunday we decided to do one of the walks from the August issue of Country Walking magazine. A 8.5 mile walk around Avebury in Wiltshire. We got up at 6am and flew down the motorway, arriving there in an hour after what was a breeze of a journey. Motorways are lovely when they’re empty.

We parked at The Red Lion pub in Avebury. It’s a Pay-and-Display car park these days. £5 for all day parking redeemable if you eat at the pub. We assumed we’d be having lunch there and so didn’t give it too much thought. Used the public toilets before we started and they were filled with rubbish. Also noticed a planning permission sign on them saying they were going to be demolished to make way for a cafe. Whole area seemed a bit run down and scruffy.

Anyway, once we started walking everything changed. Perfect weather for it! Cloudy and warm, with a cool breeze and the occasional spot of rain to stop us from overheating. We kept being overtaken by runners and cyclists up the long climb from the village. They’re just show-offs of course and we WERE stopping to take lots of photos.

Dogface was happily running around on the long chalk Wessex Ridgeway path. Although there’s a farm at the start of the path and cows around, the fences are sound and the path is wide. So it gave him a chance to be off the lead and get the bounce out of his system before reaching Overton Down.

Lots of sheep after we crossed the Ridgeway. So Dogface was on the lead and we were mindful of where we trod. Beautiful views across the downs and lots of photos were taken. We chatted about our Ridgeway walk planned for next year and sun and wind directions, considering the best direction to walk it.

At ‘beech circle’ (on the OS Explorer 157) we turned North off the main path. This was the point where our Satmap Active 10 Plus GPS died. The screen faded, faded, faded, and then turned to black. Oh dear. This is what happened to our last GPS that died with the damming coincidence that I was holding both when they gave up the ghost! Luckily we’re belt and braces walkers so we had a map and a compass and my iPhone (includes GPS and maps when there’s a tiny bit of signal). With all three and Dogface finding the paths and avoiding the ant hills we trudged up the hill to Totterdown Wood. Great views from the top and a stop for water and humbugs.

Aside – When we returned home Nev examined the Satmap charger. The plug part hadn’t been pushed far enough onto the charger (til it clicked) and so the connectors weren’t touching. This leads us to believe that while we thought we were charging the GPS we were doing absolutely nothing at all and all that happened was that the battery died. Currently testing this theory by using it around home. Also made a note to always carry spare batteries no matter how short the walk.

Rest of the walk was pretty uneventful except for one diversion where we walked up to a farmer’s front door. Kind lady came out and pointed us in the right direction while her dogs shouted at us furiously. We’d totally missed the sign on the gate that said, ‘not a right of way’ and gone left rather than straight on through the sheep field. The sheep glared at Dogface until his tail went between his legs and he looked very unhappy. Sheep worrying the dog.

It’s hard walking on the Ridgeway as it’s worn into channels and ruts. All three of us are out of shape and so we were glad to turn back towards Avebury, looking forward to some lunch.

The Avebury neolithic monuments (the stone circle, Silbury Hill, and West Kennet Long Barrow) all looked immaculately cared for. Although we didn’t hang around after lunch to visit them all I do very much want to go back there again and spend some time looking around. These sights never grow old for me even though they are over 5,000 years old.

Had a fantastic day out.

p.s. A brief note on the two pubs near Avebury. The ground outside The Red Lion was covered in cigarette butts, broken glass, and other rubbish (no dogs allowed inside). I went in to order some drinks and got the ‘chain pub’ vibe. Instead we drove just down the road back to the Wagon and Horses on the A4 in Beckhampton. It’s a Wadworth pub but looks quite nice from the front. Unfortunately also no dogs allowed and so we were in the beer garden…with the flies. The garden’s well cared for and very pretty but the service was with a stare, the coke was tasteless brown fizzy water, and the food was…um…edible on cold plates. Next time we visit Avebury we’ll be spending our cash on a homemade picnic. Pork pie, scotch eggs, cold sausages, ginger beer…. 🙂

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