|Windmill Hill. There isn't a windmill. And to the majority of us that hurriedly guess a glance in its direction when accelerating out of Avebury, there doesn't seem to be much of a hill either. But this weekend (on my way to Jane's inspiring exhibition of paintings) I decided I'd finally pay it a visit.
Taking Julian Cope's book's advice I thought I'd walk up from Avebury. Just to save you the unnecessarily tiring confusion I suffered trying to find the footpath, let me guide you to it. I parked in the NT carpark. Just as you walk through the gate, turn sharp left and leave the rest of the tourists behind - cut down this shady footpath and at the end of it turn left onto the road. The road soon bends right, then left. By now you will have been overcome by an urge to remark on the cuteness of the village. The road turns into a path, and then into a little bridge/causeway. When it splits in two, take the right hand side, and climb over the stile to your right. Cross the field and the stiled footbridge - then you just follow the path across the fields. I'd met three people so far who cheerily answered my 'good morning's - but from this point on I didn't see a soul until I was back in Avebury.
When you finally get to it, the climb is kind of slow and shallow, but it turns into a slog - the type where you start off chatty but end up silently wondering 'aren't we there yet?' It made the walk more of a Journey really, as I had time to ponder. Arriving was quite gradual - not like the short concerted effort of getting to Adam's Grave or WK longbarrow, and there was no shock value of a sudden view. When I arrived I was alone - well, as alone as you can be amidst 100+ sheep, but they largely ignored me. It was immensely windy and cold, but sunny and clear. It should have been totally silent, but the wind was howling in my ears and I could hear a lot of noise, even though there wasn't any. If you see what I mean.
I stood on the biggest barrow and did feel at the centre of all I surveyed. Behind me the steep slopes up to the Ridgeway were enclosing, in front the Pewsey Downs pointed out to the flat landscape. I guess the hill must slope away equally on all sides, but it didn't feel like this. Maybe it was partly to do with the colours of the fields and only an illusion of this time or season.
I couldn't see Avebury for trees, but Silbury Hill stood out . Its top seemed about the same level as I was standing - again this could have been an illusion, but it was quite an interesting one.
I thought it was a strange place really - it was so empty but it must once have been a busy focus of activity. It was quite lonely really. From the top it is very much a Hill, but that's certainly not how it looked to me before I ventured up here. I suppose I'll be better equipped to pick the site out from other vantage points now? Even when I came down it didn't look like it felt, or how it was. It's quite Disguised.
Anyway, well worth it. I felt quite smug and comfy as I walked back that I'd been up there. Come back to Avebury, you should go up there too.
Posted by Rhiannon
13th May 2003ce
Edited 20th February 2008ce