Despite the grey weather, Avebury was our destination last weekend. The pathways were muddy, many closed due to soil erosion, and the sky threatened rain. Still, once we got going, it was worth it. The dried up trenches alongside the fields had filled with water and there was a crescent-shaped moat around Silbury Hill.
It's wet out. Silbury Hill is surrounded by a crescent-shaped moat and the nearby streams have swelled. #outdoors #nature #dogwalk #igerswiltshire #southwest #swisbest #timeforwiltshire #visitengland #england #rural #walking #visitwiltshire #keepitwild #history #water #reflection #avebury #wiltshire #instabritain #touristengland
The route to West Kennett Long Barrow, a neolithic tomb, was slick and slippery. Rapeseed was growing in the surrounding fields, a thick cabbage-y smell. It was reassuring to know that something was growing, after all the snow. As we drew closer to the ancient burial site, I heard music. An odd, trance-like song with irregular beats. Druids, I thought. We see them on the hills around Avebury, dancing and chanting – “ALL HAIL THE CORN KING” – or leaving old Norse symbols on the stones in chalk.
We ventured inside the tomb as far as we dared. The stones were warm, in contrast to the cold winds outside. Incense was burning and one man sat alone in the shadows, playing an instrument I did not recognise and could not describe. Magic. There are many old traditions in the South West, from wassailing in orchards to pilgrimages up Glastonbury Tor. There’s a sense that the landscape is sleeping and one day will wake up to reveal all it’s secrets.
What a stunning, beautiful day. I could have walked for miles more. #wiltshire #autumn #wiltshireautumn17 #fall #outdoors #nature #westkennet #history #sky #igerswiltshire #igerswiltshireEARTH #timeforwiltshire #visitwiltshire #visitengland #england #walking #dogwalk #nationaltrust #englishheritage #countryside #photosofengland #photosofwiltshire #instabritain
The song played by the druid never seemed to end, it simply bled into another, with no discernible tune. There was a church-like atmosphere and no one spoke. Unwilling to intrude, we walked to the Avenue, past trees strung with prayer ribbons, and into Avebury’s heart. Music followed us, for the local campanologists were practising in the church tower, with the odd rogue bell to disturb the melody.
Circular Avebury and West Kennett Walk:
- Park in Avebury’s National Trust car park, free to members, and cross the road, A4361. Follow the path alongside the river (don’t turn right at the bridge) and keep going until you reach another road, the A4. Silbury Hill will be on your right.
- Cross the A4. There will be a gate on the left and an information board about West Kennett Long Barrow. Follow the path through two fields, the last a small hill. At the top is the neolithic tomb. Dogs are allowed, although keep them on the lead due to the steep drops around the UNESCO site.
- Double back on yourself and cross the A4. Walk through the first field and turn right (do not go through the stile/kissing gate). You’ll see a grassy track where the path has been worn away by walkers. It’s a steep hill, however the view is spectacular. Follow the path and it will take you downwards, to another gate (with signposts). On your left will be the Avenue.
- Walk down the Avenue, with its stones on either side, and follow the path through Avebury, crossing the road twice at various intervals. Explore at your leisure. Head into the village and you’ll find the National Trust café – and cream teas – before returning to the car park via the main (signposted) path.
Note: In wetter months, the main paths around Avebury and through the Avenue may be closed to protect the ancient landscape from soil erosion. Take the road instead, which can offer a different (and equally interesting) view.
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