Books I've Read

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Wiltshire White Horse Trail

I'm not sure if you realize this or not but England has more than one white horse. I'm not talking the animal variety, I'm talking the white horses cut out of the turf on a chalk hillside. In Wiltshire there are 8 of these incredible hill carvings which are still visible. There are some that are new and others that are ancient.

Mark and I had arranged months earlier to go and stay with friends or ours who live in Somerset. Dale is interested in ancient things and so they decided for our walk we would do a portion of white horse trail by walking the Honeystreet and Pewsey Downs trail. It is an almost 7 mile walk that loops over the top of a hill giving great views (if the weather cooperates) down to a canal that has a pub for a bit of refreshment near the end of the walk.

The Boys
I was quite excited as according to Dale and Gail, we were going to walk literally over the ears of the horse, not just view it from a afar. So rather than whizzing by at high speeds driving on the motorway. I would get a nice long look at one of these great English landmarks. Saturday morning we woke in the guest bedroom of Dale and Gail's the night before we had sampled Dale famous pizza night and they featured a seasonal treat wild garlic leaf pesto!  Even better the pesto had been made by Dale from leaves he had foraged...YUMMY. Needless to say I at least had some calories that needed burning off.  So after a fab breakfast we all loaded in Dale van. We chatted the whole way and then there it was off the the left of our window as we drove into the village of Alton Barnes.

From where we parked you could see the horse off the in distance and as Dale told me that we were going to walk to the top of it I knew the calories would fall off me! As we started the walk Dale told us that the horse that we were going to walk to the top of was constructed in 1812 by a guy named John Thorne so a newer carving. Turns out when I did a bit of research this John Thrope guy was a bit of a con artist as he took the money (£20) and a horse and ran! He was later hanged. So instead the guy that Thorne commissioned to do the work, used the plans drawn up by Thorne, and did all the work, his name was John Harvey. So the guy who wanted the horse carved, a Mr. Robert Pile, had to pay for it twice.

It was a beautiful day, the sun was shinning and there was hardly a cloud in the sky. We still grabbed extra layers and loads of water as the hill is quite exposed and with English weather anything could happen. Within minutes though I was down to my shirt sleeves! It was unseasonably warm for March! As we climbed the view was a bit obstructed by the haze created by the heat. But the view was still stunning. And the greens!!! I know that the human eye can see more shades of green than any other colour BUT this was stunning.

Soon we were at the top of the horses ears! It was funny. I had been looking forward to seeing it up close but when you do you find yourself wishing you were a bit further away as up close it just looks like a bit of a exposed chalk. Oh well it was still neat to know that I was standing on the top of his ears! Supposedly according to Dale they placed the wooden frame around the horse to help prevent erosion from changing or destroying the horse itself. Further there were stakes in the ground above the horse which they use to tie into so that they can weed the horse periodically so that it will always remain lovely and white and viewable from a far. So even though it looks like nothing spectacular from up close from a distance it is beautiful!

The boys flying a kite and Baxter trying to ignore the kite
For a bit of a break we decided to try and fly our parafoil kite. Neither Gail or Dale and tried it before and we had a lot of laughs. Unfortunately there was not much wind which made flying the kite a hundred times harder! However Gail, I would say, did the best of the beginners. Poor Baxter (their dog) didn't know quite what to make of the kite but it was not his favourite thing! hehe

As we headed down the hill toward the canal we went by a ditch (aka "earth works"). I know big deal right! But it actually was as it was a man made ditch that had been made by some ancient landowner as a way of displaying his wealth and power! A ditch!! It was called Cross Dyke. It was quite impressive given it was dug out by hand and that there was no reward for it just the cheif/king proclaiming to all who happened upon it to say, "wow the guy who had this built must be rich and powerful!" I find it incredible and interesting to learn about how people lived and the things that showed the world that they had "made it."
Cross Dyke

The walk continued down to the canal as we got closers to the pub the noise of the locals out enjoying the beautiful summer day in March! We decided that we had worked had enough for a bit of a rest and a treat! We found and picnic table and the boys went in to sort out a treat for us. Within a matter of minutes both Gale and I had our hiking boots off and our bare feet in the grass it felt absolutely delicious!!! Like we were grabbing a bit of a cheat of and early summer.

Mark, Baxter, Dale, & Gail

Cheesy chips in our tummies we finished our walk and hopped back in the van. The walk and the sunshine got the best of Mark and he dozed a bit on the drive back. However he perked up when we went past a Tesco enough to make sure that we stopped and purchased an ice cream treat. YUMMY! thank you Chokabloc for making such a yummy treat.

No comments: