Today, I took a break from DIY to get out and in to the fresh air. Yesterday perhaps wasn’t as wet as had been forecast but when I awoke to blue skies this morning, I knew I needed to take advantage of it.
This was also an opportunity for me to finalise a pre-walk; for if I can submit and lead one more walk with Brunel Walking Group before Christmas, I’ll be entitled to a £20 gift voucher!
So, today, I returned to the western edge of Wiltshire and to the quaintly named small village of Box.
My only previous visit here (as a walker and not a woodworker) came on the very first weekend of 2014. It was chilly and the fresh ice that and frost that had formed overnight made for a beautiful and welcoming setting under the winter sun. This time however, it was still nice to be able to appreciate that familiar landscape coloured green an somewhat autumnal.
For the most part, this walk would be identical to the one I followed in January.
But I’d decided that, only 2 miles in, I would include a short detour slightly north and towards Colerne, purely to take in the ‘mysterious‘ male statue or sculpture that may or may not depict the legendary dragon-slayer St.George…
I’ve been Googling for it ever since I first came across it on a walk that began further north in Slaughterford, which I believe was in November last year.
I’ve tried various search terms but to no avail. I cannot even find an image of this that is not my own.
Am I hallucinating? Will I ever learn the truth?
For anyone interested; it lies south of Euridge Manor Farm inside an area labelled as Ashley Field Barn, just left of the northerly footpath.
From there, I was walking an unknown route on my return towards the familiar footpaths.
I made my way down through Monk’s Wood, which appears to be very well managed and clear to access, thanks perhaps to The Woodland Trust and its volunteers. I passed two people heading in the other direction through here and didn’t see many others during the first half of this walk.
A clear path down through Monk’s Wood.
Very soon after, I was back on the upward spiralling track beside the private Hartham Park Estate, as views across the southern Cotswolds and to Colerne emerged.
View to the church and water tower of Colerne.
Rudloe Manor was still very much closed off and under security. Once again, contractors could be seen navigating the grounds… They’d done some work (‘flattening’) to the surrounding landscape. My best guess is that the former RAF-owned property is going to be opened up to the corporate events market (weddings, etc.).
After a slightly muddy and heavily-nettled stretch following the bridleway beside Lower Rudloe Farm, it wasn’t long before I climbed up to reach the main road and then, after crossing the A4, it was time to head up Barnetts Hill once again, making my way past the Quarryman’s Arms.
I actually attempted a couple of deviations here and, while I managed to miss the former-quarry tennis courts belonging to one house hold, I discovered a pleasant woodland path across the common that leads to a pair of benches at the other end.
Despite being 6 miles in to the walk and, more importantly, over halfway; this is my penned lunch stop for the group walk, as the worst of the hills will be over with by then. Benches may suit a few people not happy to sit on the ground and, in the event of wet weather, we may be able to find the minimal of shelter beneath those trees.
Or, we retreat 100 yards and head in to the pub!
My lunch stop today was upon the familiar dry-stone wall.
It’s not far after the refuelling that you pass Hazelbury Manor:
In spite of the cars parked directly outside, it looked to be closed, once again. One website I found claims that they charge £5 for each adult to entry, with kids heading in for free. Still, I cannot find any information to suggest when they may actually open it.
Moving along and one of my favourite features from this walk is the sighting of the golden Guernsey goats:
I almost felt sorry for them, as they looked kind of bored and confined in there.
I then followed a rather muddy path through Thorn Wood that would lead me across the A365 but I deemed this to be a better choice than the previous route, which I seemed to remember as being significantly downhill and slippery, before climbing back up to the road.
Once other the other side, I found myself walking up an elegant driveway that would soon lead to a familiar hamlet of houses dashed around the hillside.
Soon after, I was back on the MacMillan Way and heading south on my return and final descent in to Box.
This time, I spent a little bit longer walking around the playing fields from where I had begun this morning.
There was a football being played this morning (a possibility that had not even crossed my mind), which meant the car park was almost filled to the brim upon my arrival. So, I’ve had to consider the start time (and day) for my group walk.
I also made an effort to visit the strange “stone circle” I’d started last time but only from afar…
It’s a formation known as the Box Rock Circus. One for kids as well as geologists! It depicts examples of rocks that have previously been found in the local area; letting you know what they would’ve been used for and perhaps most interestingly, at what stage in history each rock was formed.
I look forward to walking this again with my group of followers next month. It also looks as though Box offers a pair of tea shops along with its pubs for post-walk refreshment.
Thanks for reading.