Monday, 16 March 2015

Bury Down to Gramps Hill (The Ridgeway 9)

Scutchamer Knob

Our second leg this year of The Ridgeway: we started last year and then had to have a long lay-off. We set out from Bury Down on very grey morning and after a mile or so reached the strangely named Scutchamer Knob. It is an early iron age round barrow. Wikepedia says that it was originally called Cwichelmeshlaew or Cwichelm's Barrow and offers the fairly pointless opinion that the current name may be a corruption of Cwichelmeshlaew. It appears that the barrow was a high mound until the 19th century, when over-enthusiastic excavations reduced it to its present sorry state.

We made quite rapid progress along the broad path, unable to see too much in the murk to either side. A nice view offered itself just before we reached Lord Wantage's monument: the second stand of trees made a nice contrast with the grass and other trees.

The path passes close by the monument which dates from 1902. It was erected by his wife to commemorate the life of General Robert James Loyd-Lindsay, VC, 1st Baron Wantage. He was a philanthropist, one of the founders of the British Red Cross, an MP for a while and Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire.

Soon after the monument there was a pleasing combe to the right (north).

But as we drew south of Wantage, it started to rain, drizzle at first, then continuous and quite heavy rain. This wasn't what we expected! So the last part of the walk was a bit of a slog on a slippery chalky path. No further pictures were possible. We ended the walk at Gramps Hill, just south of the pretty village of Letcombe Bassett.

Conditions: cold, grey then wet.

Distance: 7.3 miles. Distance now covered 59.6 out of 86.8 miles.

Map: Explorer 170 (Abingdon, Wantage and Vale of White Horse).

Rating: three stars. More on a nice day. Lovely open country and little sign of habitation.

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