White Horse Trail – Walk 7 of 7 (Part 1)

Sunday 6th August 2017

This was it. Our final walk along the ninety-mile long White Horse Trail. A very few of us were ready to complete the challenge, while others were in attendance for what was likely to be a very good walk.

I even found myself driving to the start point on top of Bratton Camp… SatNav didn’t get us close enough and it was only thanks to Andrey’s phone that we arrived where we were meant to be.

If you’re interested in the route we followed, Jo has made it available to view on OS Maps (you’ll need to be a subscriber to view… But it’s worth it).

On the day, we walked anti-clockwise.

Bratton Camp (aka. Bratton Castle) is the site of an Iron Age hillfort, today standing around 220m above sea level (Wiltshire doesn’t get much higher). There’s a spacious and free-to-use car park on the top. A popular space for day-trippers and probably the overnight campervan-man or woman.

Walking east initially and, to the south of White Horse Hill, we were once again following the Imber Range Perimeter Path for what would (thankfully) be our final time.

At least, on this occasion, we were beating the tarmac and concrete with fresh legs, rather than being eighteen-miles in to the walk. This section doubles up with the White Horse Trail and the Wessex Ridgeway.

Again, we passed red flags, unmanned huts and warning signs of the private land and firing range beyond… None of which seems to deter one man from walking freely with his dog.

In itself, to be finishing with the Imber Range Path was an achievement to look forward to. Don’t get me wrong; it’s probably a lovely route for cyclists and tanks alike.

Beyond Coulston, we stopped on the lovely green of Erlestoke Golf Club. There was no-one else to be seen or heard… Yet, we made good use of the actual toilets on offer, complete with a drinking fountain in the front half of the garage-sized building.

Further on and we passed this church at Bulkington.

On to Keevil and we stopped briefly on the small green, where a set of wooden stocks remain. Sadly, like most other examples around the country, they’ve been padlocked shut.

I have a suspicion that Flickr has, once again, messed with the order of my photos during the upload sequence… As I remember reaching Keevil sometime after lunch.

This was definitely the village church for Keevil. A few of us tried to go inside but, as I cannot find any further evidence to suggest otherwise, I’m assuming the main door was locked. A shame and a bit of a surprise. I find it’s rare to encounter a church whose doors aren’t open to visitors in the day time.

Long grass, stinging nettles, brambles… These have all been a regular feature of all but one other walk in this series. However, I don’t recall any such issues from this final frontier.

Of course, being in the countryside, we had to encounter our bovine friends. There was one occasion where a couple of beefsteaks rushed towards Jo’s dog, Escha but, we all survived unscathed.

This was the church at Steeple Ashton. Quite the Gothic spectacle. I don’t remember setting foot inside here and yet, it looks almost cathedral-like, you’d almost expect to be welcome on a Sunday.

I find this is an odd place to end Part 1… But, I promise you; the most interesting parts will arrive with Part 2! Rest assured, the White Horse Trail was not going to disappoint on this final occasion.

Thanks for reading. Please subscribe for Part 2.

PS. All photos on this walk were taken with my smartphone, after my camera drowned the previous weekend at the Port Eliot Festival in Cornwall.

Author: Olly Parry-Jones

I live in Weston-super-Mare, close to the Mendip Hills in Somerset and I enjoy time spent outdoors, whether that's walking, camping or backpacking. My day job involved making furniture from recycled wood (I'm a furniture maker and carpenter by trade). I have two blogs: Olly Writes (woodworking, DIY, baking) Walks With Olly (walking, camping and kit) You can also find me on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. My second YouTube channel is titled 'Walks with Olly'.

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