Thursday, 22 September 2011

Aldbourne, Liddington Castle and Upper Upham

After a lot of gloomy weather a day of sunny spells but with a strong wind tempted me out for an eleven mile walk. Having walked mainly on lowland walks I decided to head for the downs for some early autumn views. I started at Aldbourne, a village I walked through just over a month ago. It is often pronounced as ‘Auburn’ rather than ‘ald-bourne’. It was home to the composer Gerald Finzi for five years.

Aldbourne

I followed an ancient trackway north-west out of the village, the path is a ‘ridgeway’ following the Sugar Hill ridge all the way to the famous ‘Great Ridgeway’ near Swindon. Here is a map of the walk.


View Aldbourne - Liddington in a larger map

There were good views to be had to the north and south.

View

About two miles along was a series of four mounds, these are Four Barrows, (They look Bronze Age but are very well preserved for a date of four thousand years ago) certainly a good place to be laid at rest.

barrow

In the fields near Aldbourne Warren Farm is another earthwork, I'd guess medieval in this case.

view,earthwork

Further on at Sugar Hill the valley sides become much steeper and the slope had lots of wild flowers - but unfortunately on the other side of the fence. There were a couple of swallows flying over the slopes, may be the last I shall see this year.

sugar hill

To the north was Foxhill farm and a transmitter.

view,foxhill

On the south side of the ridge near the attractive wildflower meadow, I found a white-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lucorum) sheltering from the strong wind on a Scabious flower (Knautia arvensis).

bee, scabious

This view shows the path I had followed snaking along the ridge.

view,sugar hill

I then joined the Great Ridgeway near Liddington Hill. The hill will be familiar to anyone travelling along the M4 through Wiltshire or down the A419 Swindon-Cirencester road, it marks the gateway to the Wessex Downs. I walked this stretch over seven years ago, and the view to the north is just as spectacular now as it was then towards Swindon and way beyond.

view,swindon,liddington

The clump of trees at Liddington Hill contains quite a few modern memorials, including childrens' toys. It is interesting that people still want to make memorials at the same sort of places that our Iron Age ancestors used to.

memorial,liddington

The Iron Age hillfort just along at Liddington Castle still has its steep ring ditch and is of an impressive size.

liddington castle,hillfort,ring ditch

The view east from the Ridgeway has an attractive mix of downs and woods.

view,ridgeway,liddington

The path then blanks out views to either side before new ones open up to the east.

view,ridgeway

On, or rather in, a fence post was a collection of snails keeping away from the birds.

snails

Further along on the Ridgeway views south to Ogbourne Saint George open out as well as views back to Liddington Castle and Swindon beyond it.

view,liddington,ridgeway

I turned East off the Ridgeway on the track from Lower Upham. Here at last was some shelter from the strong wind for various insects including this creature, I guess a weevil of some description? The wind was still too strong for butterflies, I only saw a couple on the whole route.

bug,weevil

The gentle track led down from the high ridge to Upper Upham. It is the site of a prehistoric to medieval village now abandoned that may have been the forerunner of Aldbourne. The farm had strange signs on the barns, I think a word or two is missing!

parents can be dangerous

One last building (I did not pass that many) to post - Upham Court, a grand old manor house.

Upham Court

The clouds filled in the sky as I walked back to Aldbourne down along another ridgeway that completed this walk.

Adbourne