Thursday, 3 November 2016

Warminster to Corton (Wessex Ridgeway [Wiltshire] 7)

Battlesbury Hill

Back on the Wessex Ridgeway after a break of five months, we resume the route on the north of Warminster by the West Wilts Golf Club and take a route heading south east through a small housing estate. Reaching a road, we turn left along the side of the vast Army Training Centre and and then right to climb Battlesbury Hill with its Iron Age hill fort.

We are now back on the south east line we started on and on the far side of Battlesbury (208m)there is a nice view across to Middle Hill, with its two lonely trees and an area of Strip Lynchets over to the left. They are the result of ancient farming methods, although there is some debate about they were deliberately created (like the terraces found in countries around the Mediterrranean) or were the by-product of slippage of soil loosened by ploughing.

We crossed the low-lying area in front of Middle Hill and followed a line to the right of the trees to climb a third hill, Scratchbury Hill. This is the view back.

We were now on a high ridge, still heading south east. We passed a small tumulus with a helpful sign advising tank crews that they were not to shell it or drive over it and then passed through a narrow strip of woodland.

We turned right immediately on the other side and headed downhill towards the village of Heytesbury. Our first sight was of the church through some nice autumn foliage.

After crossing the busy A36 we found ourselves in the village centre and walked along the High St to get a closer view of the church (of St Peter and St Paul). It dates from the 13th-14th centuries, but was in Pevsner's view over-restored in the 19th century by William Butterfield. It is "externally more rewarding from a distance than from near by".

Further along the High St is the former Lockup.

And at the end is the Hospital of St John and St Katherine. This almshouse dates from 1449 and was founded by Walter, Lord Hungerford, Treasurer of England. It was rebuilt in 1769 and modified internally in 1962.

We were now at the start of the Wylye Valley and soon reached the banks of this attractive stream.

Another mile or so brought us across fields to the edge of the village of Corton and then to The Dove pub where we enjoyed an excellent lunch.

Conditions: not too cold, cloudy.

Distance: 6.8 miles.

Map: Explorer 143 (Warminster & Trowbridge).

Rating: four stars.

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