An epic Wiltshire walk
Although I’m writing this on a particularly rainy day, May really has been pretty glorious so far, giving us some perfect weather for adventures. The good weather, #NationalWalkingMonth and new shoes from Little Trekkers (Meindl Responds for the 7yo) inspired us to plan an epic walk. Most often we head out from the house on foot and walk around our local area, but for this walk we decided to try something new. We even had to pick up a new OS Map as we were heading over the border to Wiltshire (sounds more dramatic than it was, we only drove for 30 minutes to the starting point!).
On a gorgeously sunny Sunday morning we packed up a bag of snacks, water, picnic bits, map, hats and sun cream and drove over to Avebury where we parked in the National Trust car park. As members we were able to park for free. I’d planned for us to walk from there up the hill to join the Ridgeway, an 87 mile long National Trail that’s often described as Britain’s oldest road. The kids were really engaged with the idea that we were treading where people had walked for generations. The idea was to reach the White Horse at Hackpen, but in the event the sun was pretty strong on the high, chalky track, so we turned off a little way before the final hill and looped back to Avebury using paths alongside the fields.
The way up to the Ridgeway was easy to follow and we met plenty of walkers, cyclists and even motorcyclists on the route. The views over the downs were stunning and the 7yo particularly enjoyed seeing the red kites circling high above using the thermals. After about two hours walking the dog was relieved to find a dewpond to wallow in and take a drink and we made a mental note not to forget his foldable water bowl on future walks.
Every 30 minutes or so we stopped for a break during which the kids had a drink and a little bit of food. Stopping like this also allowed us to savour some truly glorious views over the down lands. We also stopped frequently in places where the boys found stones to clamber on, beetles to study, butterflies to follow, sticks to gather etc. It was important to allow them this freedom to choose their activities and not be too strict about trudging forward continuously
Once we left the Ridgeway we found ourselves on some very underused paths. We had to use the kids sticks to beat a path through forests of nettles (as the 5yo called them), and often struggled to see if a path that was clearly marked on the map actually existed. Though this was where Mr P and I were working harder to ensure we got our little troop back to Avebury safely, the kids loved this bit. They felt like true explorers and found a lot of joy in making their own route down the hills and through the fields.
After nearly eight miles and over four hours on our feet we made it back to Avebury and the lovely Red Lion Inn. Mr P and I were gutted that we arrived there about two minutes after they’d closed their kitchens (!) but the kids had eaten enough on route and were happy enough gulping down cold drinks (and the dog lapped up not one but two bowls of water).
So we slightly underestimated the distance we were going to cover – I’m not the most expert map reader – but our boys really rose to the occasion and were so proud of themselves to complete such an epic walk. (And those Meindl Responds really stood up to the test too!) We really thought we’d manage to finally exhaust them…but no. Just one hour after arriving home they were out in the garden asking us to play football with them! What can I say? They truly are inexhaustible!
About the Author
About Me & Mine
I am a writer, editor, wife and mum to two very lively boys aged seven and five - and not forgetting Oakley, our bouncy black lab. Most days with my boys are an adventure of sorts, but at weekends we love to get out and about in our local countryside of the spectacular North Wessex Downs AONB either on wheels or on foot.
Favourite place in the world:
The mountains! I was lucky enough to have grandparents living in Salzburg, Austria when I grew up and have always had a love for the mountains. In summer I love the walks and the views, and in winter the smell of snow and skiing.
Favourite things to do outdoors:
There is a favourite spot in the next village along from us - some woods which are full of possibilities. There are streams to splash through, mud to get stuck in, 'dinosaur' ferns to hide amongst and fallen trees to bug-hunt in. Every time we go up there as a family we have a magical time. It helps that there's a cafe and pub where we park the car so we can finish the walk with a hot chocolate!