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King's Play Hill

Long Barrow


Starting from the small car park by Oliver's Castle we headed right along a trackway towards King's Play Hill and long barrow. A typical January day, chilly with a hint of rain in the air but it was a pleasure be out on the Wiltshire Downs again. A round barrow sits on the crest of King's Play Hill, to get to it we did a back shuffle under a barbed wire fence (a first for me) to come upon an amazing almost sheer drop on the other side of the hill - made negotiable only by the tiers of sheep tracks.

My walking friend, being a keen map-reader, pointed out the long barrow, although not very prominent, sat just below the crest of the hill - where we had just come from on the other side of the barbed wire, so back we went to take a closer look. From where we were standing we could also see the round barrows in the distance on the highest point of Furze Knoll near Morgan's Hill.

Ultimately, we were heading for the village of Heddington to pick up the track at the bottom of Roundway Down back to Oliver's Castle so it was under the barbed wire again to make our way downhill along the sheep tracks. This is when the astonishing hillocks that Rhiannon mentions in her fieldnote came into view - similar to the ones near Oliver's Castle but far more ridged (see photo).

Once on lower ground our way became very muddy; at one point we had to pass through liquified mud by a farmyard near Heddington. A farm worker directed us to the path 'up on the left'. I looked up and heard my horrified voice say "But there's a dead cow lying there".
Farm worker: "Yes, she dropped dead yesterday." Horrified Voice: "Oh ... what are you going to do with her."
Farm Worker: "The hunt will have for the hounds". For a townie out walking, this is one of the unpalatable realities of country life.
tjj Posted by tjj
25th January 2011ce
Edited 25th January 2011ce

Comments (4)

It's rarely a welcome addition to a walk, that jarring sense of the harsh reality of rural life. Our Offa's Dyke walk stopped a hare from being flushed by dogs and shot on Saturday - possibly a temporary reprieve I suppose, although the hare made a fairly sharp exit after we passed. Nothing illegal, but it leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth (or at least it does for me). thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
25th January 2011ce
Quite Sweetcheat, but unfortunately in rural areas that is an every day thing. (hounds =fox hunting?=not good) Well done for the hare! drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
25th January 2011ce
No, the hare was being flushed with a spaniel and a terrier. But we had, less than an hour previously, passed a group of rather shifty blokes next to a pick-up truck full of yer actual hounds. Not sure what they were up to, we didn't linger. thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
25th January 2011ce
The 'dead cow' bit was irrelevant to the field-note but there was something disconcerting about coming across it in a muddy farmyard. Apparently it dropped dead from a heart attack and no doubt the farmer was recouping his losses by selling it for dogmeat - I believe some dead horses end up the same way. I'm just squeamish ... and a vegetarian. tjj Posted by tjj
25th January 2011ce
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