Olly Writes

Woodwork, writing, walks, DIY and more!

Avebury and Beyond

Another Sunday, another walk around Wiltshire with Brunel Walking Group! This time and under the guidance of another new (to me) walk leader, we headed further east and in to Avebury, from which we began our walk a stone’s thrown from Silbury Hill and just off the A4.

Silbury Hill, Wiltshire.

I’m going to share a handful of photos with you in this post and if you’d like to see the rest (all 32), then you’ll find a link at the bottom.

We started beside an over-crowded layby just over the road from the hill you see above. Turning the other way, you could look on to a see a large circular formation beyond the crops and beyond that, somewhere, would be the West Kennet Long Barrow.

But we set off in the opposite direction; keeping the hill to our left on the way in to Avebury.

You don’t have to pay to see these stones.

It wasn’t long before we arrived beside the National Trust’s visitor centre and got our first glimpse of some of the many stone formations you can find within this area. A toilet stop was also very apparently welcomed by the 20 or so walkers, after the hour-long drive from Bristol!

We were walking in a route shaped like a figure of 8 and so, although we don’t spend much time here initially, we’d be returning later on for lunch and a closer look at the monolithic rocks.

One feature of Chris’ walk that I really liked was how he stopped us frequently to give a brief history lesson on the local surroundings. It’s almost essential in this kind of setting but it’s got me thinking about doing more research in the run up to my next walk-leading experience.

Large stones could be found further afield (no pun intended) but in near isolation from another. Apparently, they were once less sparse until they were carted away for local building projects.

We made our way up to Windmill Hill for a late-morning/pre-lunch stop.

…It was probably once much larger than it appears today!

The Lansdowne Monument, Cherhill, Wiltshire.

From my seat, you could clearly spot the Lansdowne Monument – a feature of a previous walk I did around Cherhill on my own a few months ago.

As we made our way back around towards Avebury, Silbury Hill was quite clear to see.

Sitting amongst the many other day-trippers, it was hard to ignore the Morris Dancers between the trees. If you look very closely, you can see the strangest black goat-thing that I’ve ever seen (I was sat down and too lazy to get up and capture a clearer view before ‘it’ departed).

After lunch, we continued our tour of the stones before making our way to an area known as The Sanctuary.

I cleaned the lens of my camera the night before this walk and, although I’m not sure whether using methylated spirit is a recommended practice, it seems to make all the difference each time I venture out to Wiltshire.

The Marlborough Downs, Wiltshire.

We came along beside another circular formation of “small” wooden blocks laid on to the turf.

Few people seemed overly concerned with this initially. One of the information boards illustrates how there would once have been wooden posts sat on top of each block but I don’t think this area is to be confused with Wood Henge.

Sometime after, Silbury Hill returned to our sights and we knew that this walk would soon be over. Up to our left, I did spot the West Kennet Long Barrow at the top of what would become perhaps the steepest hill we climbed all day…

I don’t think any one of us was expecting to have to make the climb at such an advanced stage within the walk but I did agree with Chris when he said that we might as well, seeing as we were passing right by it (I certainly would’ve done so had I been passing on my own).

West Kennet Long Barrow, Wiltshire.

It’s an impressive feature, even if it was once used for burrial purposes. Beyond those large rocks you’ll find the entrance and you can (carefully) walk inside for a good 12ft. But for insufficient lighting and a crowd of people, I wasn’t able to get any half-decent interior shots for you. More recent renovations have including the installation of glass skylights. While the barrow itself maintains an overall length of around 100m.

One final view of Silbury Hill indicated that it was time for us to return to our cars (not to mention the dread of preparing for another Monday morning…).

Silbury Hill – 700 men slaved for over 10 years… But WHY was it made?

I’m sure there’s plenty we didn’t see (Stone Henge included) but on a personal note, I feel like I’ve made good progress on discovering Wiltshire so far in 2014 and everyone on this walk appeared to be in awe of what we had experienced.

Walking – a great way to get around and to see things!

Thanks for reading – please click here to see my complete photo album.


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