Great Stones Way, Wiltshire - Part 3 - Orlando / Florida Guide
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Our plan for day two was STROLL AROUND IN PEWSEY. We continued south, walking across rolling farmland on the way to the Vale of Pewsey. The Alton Barnes White Horse detour is to be recommended at this point. Then continue by following a part of the medieval Wansdyke earthwork and cutting through wildflower-covered Pewsey Downs if you go at the right time. There are excellent views over the vale from Adam’s Grave which is yet another Neolithic tomb. Then drop down into Alton Priors and Alton Barnes; their respective old churches of All Saints and St Mary’s are both interesting. By this point, you should be ready to stop for a drink at The Barge Inn.
This is a pub and also a crop circle HQ by the Kennet & Avon Canal in Honeystreet. After this stop then take a detour to cross Marden Henge. This enclosure close to the River Avon is the UK’s largest, and least known, Neolithic henge. Digs are just starting to reveal its secrets, including fine barbed arrowheads.
If you want to learn more then plan a side trip to the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes. The day finishes on a more modern note. A quick climb leads to a trail that edges Salisbury Plain, where today’s soldiers practise. It feels surreal that it is partly like an African savannah, partly war zone. You can then drop back down to the green river valley, where pretty villages such as East Chisenbury and Enford are tucked.
The final day is STONEHENGE TO SALISBURY. The green fields and thatched cottages make for a pleasant walk on the way to Durrington Walls. This is a huge, banked Neolithic settlement that’s part of the larger Stonehenge World Heritage site. The builders of the stone circle may even have travelled there much as you will now, across the fields, via Cuckoo Stone and towards the Cursus earthwork and King Barrow Ridge.
If you approach Stonehenge this way it gives you a sense of what Neolithic pilgrims must have felt, arriving here on foot for purposes currently unknown. However, to get into the stone circle itself you will need to walk 2. 4km west to buy a ticket at the visitor centre.
After Stonehenge, the route crosses the busy A303, then immediately loses the noise. It goes between huge tumuli and into the quiet Woodford Valley, where little villages have tempting pubs. Across the fields, the defensive mound of Old Sarum emerges into view. First an Iron Age hill fort around 400 BC, it was subsequently used by the Romans, before the Normans built a now ruined castle here. Its scale is jaw-dropping, as are the views of Salisbury Cathedral’s 123m spire.
Finish this trip in Salisbury with its 13th-century cathedral and copy of the Magna Carta. You can of course finish at this point having done your walk but there is so much more to see in this ancient city that you should plan to spend some time here.
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Page added on: 2 October 2019
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