Friday, 15 May 2015

Ashbury Folly to Round Hill Downs (The Ridgeway 11)

The Ridgeway path

Our recent efforts on The Ridgeway with Merv and Pud have been plagued by rather grey weather and today's stretch was no exception. The wide, straightish path was at least easy walking and pleasantly bordered by dense Cow Parsley.

Russley Downs away to the south east offered a point of view across the high (180m or so) plain

As we passed south of Bishopstone we saw some walkers emerging out of a wonderful curving valley, with what Merv identified as interlocking spurs. It transpired they were testing a walk they planned to do with their walking group the following week.

From here there was a long steady climb to Fox Hill. This was followed by about a mile along a road, which allowed a safe crossing above the M4. We were surprised by how little traffic noise there was and how close to the motorway we were before we really heard it.

On the other side, after a bit more road, we climbed Liddington Hill, but resisted the diversion to see the Iron AGe hill fort at the summit (277m). Instead we headed due south on the high ridge, especially enjoying the view back to north west. We thought we could just make out Lord Wantage's monument which we passed two legs ago in March.

A little further on there was more pleasing countryside.

And just beyond that, more unfolding valleys with some horses or ponies in the foreground.

This beautiful open country gave way to a more typical enclosed path which crossed the road from Ogbourne St George to Aldbourne. The final section was a lane leading to a farm. It was remarkable for the beautiful displays of Bluebells and Stitchwort among the trees to either side.

Conditions: Grey at first, brightening and warming up later, but never really clearing. Not a single butterfly.

Distance: 7.4 miles. Distance now covered 73.8 out of 86.8 miles.

Map: Explorer 170 (Abingdon, Wantage and Vale of White Horse) and 157 (Marlborough & Savernake Forest.

Rating: four stars. Wonderful views of wide-open country.

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