Sunday, 27 January 2008
The walk begins in the small village of Lower Green, which feels like a suburb of the sprawling, but still quite small, Inkpen. You quickly turn off the road to take a long path which climbs up towards Inkpen Hill and the splendidly named Gallows Down. On reaching the ridge after a fairly stiff climb you turn left (east) and walk along the Test Way to reach the double gallows of Combe Gibbet.
The walk continues along the Wayfarers Walk over Walbury Hill, the highest point in South East England (although only 297m). Then back down through woodland, fields and lanes back to Lower Green, home of the excellent Swan Inn with its organic food, organic brewery and farm shop.
Rating: four stars.
From: Daily Telegraph 29 December 2007..
Map: Explorer 158 (Newbury and Hungerford).
According to Wikipedia Combe Gibbet was erected in 1676 for the purpose of hanging George Broomham and Dorothy Newman and has not been used since. The gibbet was placed in such a prominent location as a warning. The gibbet you see is of course a replica, one of a long series.
George and Dorothy were having an affair and were hanged for murdering George's wife Martha, and their son Robert after they discovered them together on the downs. Unfortunately for the lovers, the murder was witnessed by one "Mad Thomas", who managed to convey what he had seen to the authorities.
Spring seems to be on its way already with these snowdrops and even a field, which seen from above seems surprisingly green.
Towards the end of the walk we spotted a stoat, standing up and surveying its territory with cool aplomb. I wasn't quite quick enough to get a photo.