View over Round Hill Downs towards the Marlborough Downs
Our most recent walk along The Ridgeway have been in dull, cloudy weather but today, happily, there is some blue sky and sunshine. We resume the route near Chase Wood Farm and head south with lovely wide open views to the west.
There is an even better view a little further on, with some cows to provide foreground interest.
We enter a more enclosed path and head downhill, swinging round to the west, to cross the A346 Swindon to Marlborough Road. On the other side there is a very nice small group of thatched cottages in a hamlet called Hallam.
The path now swings round to the north as we bypass Ogbourne St George and there is a great back across to the east showing the route we have previously travelled.
The rest of the walk follows a fantastic grassy ridge ...
... and we begin to see butterflies (Small Heath, Common Blue, Brown Argus).
We follow Smeathe's Ridge towards Barbury Castle, along a grassy trail with longer grass areas sporting many flowers on either side.
Before long there is great excitement as we spot our first Painted Lady of the year, a pristine and very amenable specimen which posed repeatedly for a photograph.
Butterfly Conservation think that this may be going to be a "Painted Lady Year" when theses beautiful butterflies migrate here in great numbers from southern Europe - the last one was in 2009. Fingers crossed! I did dutifully log my sighting.
Soon after this we arrived rather suddenly at Barbury Castle where we had left the car. It is of course an Iron Age hill fort rather than an actual castle, but we didn't get any sense of it as the path entered the parking area. Hopefully it will be clearer next month when we will complete this walk.
Conditions: Bright and sunny, quite warm.
Distance: 5 miles. Distance now covered 78.8 out of 86.8 miles.
Map: Explorer 157 (Marlborough & Savernake Forest.
Rating: four stars. One of the best sections of the whole Ridgeway.