Monday, 18 July 2016

Walking to The Ridgeway

This was a walk I'd been planning to do in 2014 and 2015 but family things got in the way. The idea was to walk from home to The Ridgeway over two days (just over forty miles) and meet up with members of the Backpackers Club for a weekend gathering. This year I was determined to do it.

I didn't get away from home till 11am. My route was the d'Arcy Dalton Way. I walked the section from its start at Wormleighton Reservoir on the Oxford Canal to home last year. It ends at Wayland's Smithy on The Ridgeway, 66.4 miles altogether. I joined the Way at Sarsden which seemed to be the quickest way to it.

Approaching Great Barrington
 The weather was sunny for most of the day but there were a couple of brief showers. My route today took me through Lyneham, Bruern, Fifield, Great & Little Barrington, Westwell and Holwell. Just past Holwell I found a delightful belt of trees to spend the night.

I was quite well hidden. My tarp is the tiny grey splodge between trees.

I was away by 7am. A lovely morning and set to be quite warm. I went through Filkins, Broadwell, diverting from the Way to go through Langford in the hope of finding water. I took some from a stream in the village. At Radcot, I crossed over a quite small River Thames.

On then to the hamlet of Eaton Hastings. There were quite a few military planes going over from nearby Carterton. After Longcot and then Compton Beauchamp, I started the ascent to The Ridgeway.

The Ridgeway on the horizon

At the top was some perfect woodland to tuck myself away in. The wildlife was very noisy but I slept well.

Next morning I had a leisurely few miles to meet up with the others at Lower Farncombe Farm just outside Lambourn. There was a good turn out of about twenty eight. A new Club member had come all the way from Düsseldorf just for the weekend. A group of us walked to Court Hill Centre just outside Letcombe Bassett where there are superb views to the north.

Sunday was the quickest way back to Lambourn to sort out some holiday related problems at home. This blog will be quiet for the next ten weeks or so but some reading can be had at

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

The start of a new life

Life's going to become a bit odd now. Full time work has finished as of 30 June. What better way to start it than by a micro backpacking trip actually from my front door. Throwing a few things together, I headed for Salford and from there towards Little Compton. I joined the Macmillan Way towards Chastleton, spending a good couple of hours exploring field and woodland paths south of the village. All these so close to home but I'd never walked them. I just met a couple of dog walkers.

I went into Adlestrop where there was a water tap outside the village hall so I filled my water belt and headed off northwards along the Cotswold Diamond Way to find somewhere to camp.

I found a superb location. Particularly in the south of England, whilst it's not difficult to find places to wild camp, more and more, I'm tending to scout out wooded areas so as to be completely out of sight. Many of these woods are infested by nettles or brambles and so are unsuitable except maybe for use with a hammock. Others, though, are just great, as was the one I found on this occasion. There were no paths into the wood but I ducked through a small opening and found a sizeable area inside which had mainly leaves as ground cover and this was perfect. I pitched and cooked my dinner. I whiled away the evening reading. I was startled by the barking of a fox for a few minutes but then everything quietened down and I spent a peaceful night.

I was on my way by 7 o'clock next morning. No-one was about and I made my way into the idyllic village of Evenlode, a place not for the financially faint hearted.

I walked around the village and then took a bridleway across field edges towards Chastleton, there taking a bridleway over Chastleton Barrow, an iron age hill fort. I've lived nearby for over thirty years and never before visited it. I then made my leisurely way back home for lunch.