White Horse Hill, Uffington
Gorgeous – bursts of sunshine in amongst lots of fluffy white clouds.
Walk 13 in this book.
Around six and a half miles.
(cue music) “All by my se-ey-elf…”
A few days after we returned from Scotland, I found myself with itchy feet. As I’d finished pretty much all my work that day by early afternoon, I decided to shut down my computer and go for a walk. I live not far from White Horse Hill and am up there fairly regularly but had never got round to doing the walk from my local Pathfinder Guide, so grabbed my stuff and set off.
The first thing you notice when walking up on White Horse Hill is that it’s very breezy. This part of the country is pretty flat and the Ridgeway is the only high ground for miles around so there’s nothing to stop the wind from blustering up in all directions. This isn’t a bad thing by any means and on this particular day I needed something to blow the cobwebs out – I find the post-break return to work very befuddling.
I set off along the road back towards the village (detouring to clamber up Dragon Hill, an oddly shaped mound with a brilliant view of the rippling Giant’s Steps in the side of The Manger which were left from the retreating permafrost during the last Ice Age. It’s also where St George allegedly slew his dragon) and turned off after a while onto a grassy path with woodland to its left. From here, the path took me out into open fields, tracing my way from stile to stile. I like being out in the open like this when nobody’s around, it gives you space to think.
This being springtime in the British countryside meant that I did have to do battle with some newly sprung nettles. One small patch of land I passed through had recently been planted as an orchard and the nettles were almost as tall as me and took up every inch of space that wasn’t reserved for the young trees aside from a narrow path that I picked my way along. I was very pleased that I’d opted for relatively thick trousers – shorts would not have worked out too well for me!
It wasn’t long before I started climbing again. The route took me along the edges of cereal fields where the crops were still fresh and green, moving in the breeze with that gorgeous swirly motion. The higher I got, the more spectacular the views became until I finally found myself walking along the wide, familiar path of the Ridgeway with the world dropping away either side of me. I continued on until I reached Uffington Castle, an Iron Age hillfort on top of White Horse Hill which also happens to be the highest point in Oxfordshire.
I walked back towards the White Horse Car Park, pausing on a bench overlooking the monument itself. Something that always amazes me about the Uffington White Horse is that, due to the curvature of the hill it’s carved on, you can’t actually view it from the ground – the best spot is a few fields over where I took the below image from. This means that the people who carved it probably never got to see it, which makes the question of why it was carved all the more intriguing.