Due to the weather I viewed this site from the safety of the car. These horse figures cut into the hillside are cracking things to see in real life. The one at Uffington is the best of course - although it is not that easy to see properly. The Cerne Abbas giant is another story!!!
If I run down the road a bit from our house, there's a super panoramic view. On a very fine day (or with binoculars), the furthest obvious thing you can see is a very distinctive group of three tree clumps. I've kept seeing them from all sorts of places - lots and lots of people must be familiar with them. There are two closeish together, and then another on the right, slightly further away. Today I was determined to find out where they were. So I jumped in the car and headed off in something like the right direction.
As you can imagine, my driving was a tad erratic, as I kept gawping at the landscape. But finally I arrived safely - and they were at Hackpen Hill, right on the Ridgeway.
It is, as Jane and Moth have said, fantastic up here (if a little chilly), and you can see a long way (the back of Cherhill Down is clear, and beyond that over to the edge of Salisbury Plain, and with binoculars, the mast near Priddy on the Mendip edge. There's lots to the north, but I didn't recognise much). Birds of prey were hovering over the slope, and the shadows of clouds made strange swirls with the patterns of chalk in the fields below.
I sat with the white horse, and on the far side of the road, a black horse stood admiring the view. Something was missing from my horse, so I collected some burnt wood from an old camp fire and made him a nice black eye. He's quite a dainty animal. But he's getting a bit green and may need a bit of a scour?
After walking up to the car park I thought I'd visit one of my tree clumps, so walked along the Ridgeway (serenaded by grasshoppers) to the first one, right by the track. It's mostly beech trees, and you can walk a circular path through them. I spotted my initials carved on one of the trees. You probably would as well, as there are so many.
Access car park at top of hill. From memory, bends in road mean care needed crossing road back to the viewpoint and White Horse. Pretty sure there's a stile too. Paths and surface are reasonable but the slope is reasonably steep in places.
Best place to view the horse itself is when approaching along the road east from the A4361. There are a couple of places where you can stop for a quick look.
Wednesday 17 September 2003
Yet another significant 'Avebury' hill to add to the list. Fantastic views to the west.
Would be a good starting point for a longish but practical walk along the Ridgeway to The Polisher and then down into Avebury.
Or even better, with a full day available and if concentrating on the way things fit together rather than looking at the individual elements, maybe even straight along to The Sanctuary, doubling back along the West Kennett Avenue to Avebury, then back up onto the Ridgeway! Hmmm, that's got me thinking....
Hackpen Hill affords glorious views from the top where the Ridgeway intersects the road. I came here in 1991 with my then-husband and then-baby daughter the morning after a crop circle had appeared the night before. You can see why the circle makers would choose this place to practice their art, the views down into the field below are clear and close.
Today, we saw the remnants of a harvested crop circle and went down to investigate the white horse, carved in 1837 to celebrate Victoria's coronation.
We could clearly make out the field to the west in which Winterbourne Bassett stone circle lies in the distance. Everything here is interconnected.
Fairy fans will find this quoted around the internet, although I don't think it's particularly clear what Aubrey means, or that most of it particularly relates to Hackpen Hill:
That the Fairies would steale away young children and putt others in their places; verily believed by old woemen of those dayes: and by some yet living.
Some were led away by the Fairies, as was a Hind riding upon Hakpen with corne, led a dance to ye Devises. So was a shepherd of Mr. Brown, of Winterburn-Basset: but never any afterwards enjoy themselves. He sayd that ye ground opened, and he was brought into strange places underround, where they used musicall Instruments, violls, and Lutes, such (he sayd) as Mr. Thomas did play on.
There are two round barrows on the smr for hackpen hill. One of them was partially excavated by Canon Greenwell, "a prolific excavator of barrows," between 1877 and 1889. He found a cremation burial with a bronze dagger as well as a later Saxon inhumation with an iron spear.