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The Icknield Way

Ancient Trackway


I spent a day wondering along one of the best parts of the Icknield Way last summer. Me and a friend had spent the night on the Ridgeway opposite Waylands Smithy. Duty had called him back to Avebury and I found myself with time to explore Hardwell Camp, Woolstone Wells, Dragon Hill and the campsite at Britchcombe Farm.

I was dropped off by the Knighton war memorial at the junction of on the Icknield Way and Knighton Hill. (SU 28288 86813). I have travelled this section of the Icknield Way many times before, but never on foot. That Saturday morning the traffic was light but I still had to keep my wits about me as the cars sped past.

The road in front of Hardwell Camp has been secured with a deer proof fence. The interior of the camp is an ideal retreat for the deer and some would have jumped out into the road. I found my way up the footpath which runs alongside the western edge of the hillfort. There seems to be a natural entrance at the top but in the height of summer, the mass of vegetation and overgrowth was too extensive to make any clear picture of it's shape. Defiantly a site to explore during the winter months.

This section of the Icknield Way follows the contours of the hill just above the line of the numerous springs. My next stop was the springs know as Woolstone Wells which form the River Ock. These springs should be seen in the same way as the Swallow Head springs are in the Avebury landscape. One of the many legends surrounding these springs is that the Uffington white horse is said to be a mare, and to have her invisible foal on the hill beside her. At night the horse and foal come down to eat at the slope below known as the Manger, and to drink the mystical waters. The Woolstone Wells are said to have been formed by a hoof print from the horse and the Icknield Way follows this line precisely. Unlike the Swallow Head springs, these springs were flowing freely and did not seem to have been tapped by the water company. There wasn't any parking on this section of the Icknield Way, so I guess very few people take the time to explore this site.

Walking onward, a footpath is available on the right which winds past Dragon Hill, crosses Dragonhill road and continues up the side of the hill to join the Ridgeway. I carried on walking down the Icknield Way and watched Dragon hill change shape. At the cross roads with the Icknield Way, the hills flat top is most prominent.

By this time, I was in need of refreshment and the welcome thought of a cup of tea spurred me on to Britchcombe Farm and the formidable Mrs. Marcella Seymour. Rated as one of the best located campsites in southern England, Britchcombe Farm was busy with happy campers, although I could have done without the screaming kids. The Tearoom on the farm is open Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays from 3 - 6 pm. Someone once told me that Marcella was the Dragon from the hill, but I found her to be very approachable. I asked her about the rumour of lighting fires and she gave me an info sheet with all the campsite details. Fires are allowed, if you ask her first. Please have a bucket of water ready before you light your fire. Keep the size of your fire to no larger than 18" square. Bags of suitable kindling and logs are available at £5 per bag from the farm. As for the camping charges,
cost per night is £6.00 per person per night for adults. Under 5 year olds are free of charge, Age 5-14 is £3.00 per person per night.
Gazebos are £6.00 per night. Showers are inclusive. Electric Hook Up's £6 per night. Washing up facilities and Showers are available next to the toilets. Although this facility has been posted to the TMA, it has not been listed as a facility of the Uffington area.
Full details are Mrs M Seymour, Britchcombe Farm, Uffington - SN7 7QJ
Tel: 01367 820667 Fax: 01367 821022
Chance Posted by Chance
30th March 2010ce

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