It wasn’t the Low cloud and drizzle this morning that dampened our spirits as Marianne and I set off on the first stretch of the Ridgeway. Not having Pat with us was the big downer. She has gone to Reading to take it easy, maybe visit a few museums, but generally stay off her feet. She tried to go to Chester, but there is no room at any affordable inn there, nor in Oxford, nor in Wells, nor in Edinburgh…. seems Reading is about the only town in the UK with room availability. This has been hard as Pat, like me, has a passion for walking historic routes.
As mentioned in an earlier blog, the Coastal Path is a recent creation, developed solely for the purpose of recreation. This path – The Ridgeway – has been in use for millennia. Migrating animals, then humans, trading, herding, armies – they have tramped, and ridden here along this elevated ridge, safe from swamps, with a clear line of sight – since the end of the last ice age.
Their passage is scored in the wide smooth way of the path. They have left behind traces of their passage. The old stuff now in museums. The new stuff mostly in litter bins. As we walked today we imagined our Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Age ancestors walking this same route. We walked through the remaining earthworks of Iron Age Barbary Castle where the Briton’s were later defeated by the invading Saxons in the 5OOs AD. History oozes from the chalk under our feet.
The route follows the top of the sweeping ridge. There are a few gentle ups and downs, but all on a broad path. The grand visas are of wide stretches of open farm land interspersed with copses and white blooming hawthorn trees. The countryside rolls away into the distance, the fields green with new growth or yellow under the bloom of rape blossom. We saw very few other walkers and were in Ogbourne St George by shortly after lunch time.
Oops – when staying at a B&B, early arrival can pose scowls or unopened doors. Here however we were invited in with a gentle chastisement. We ate humble pie and have spent the afternoon reading and sipping tea in a nice bright conservatory.
Almost time to head out to the local pub for dinner. It only opens at 4pm on weekdays. This, our hostess assured us, we should have known. All part of her displeasure that we had the audacity to arrive early. Sometimes you just have to smile and take it. She went on to explain that it’s all on their web site didn’t we know. I didn’t like to tell her I didn’t actually know the name of the village’s local pub. Her tea was good. The bathtub was comfortable and the water hot. The beds are as advertised – and look comfortable. So really – no complaints.
Signing off from Ogbourne St George