Sunday, 1 March 2009

Vale of the White Horse

Did a long-ish walk this weekend around the folklore rich are of the White Horse and Uffington Monuments. We parked in the National Trust car park and walked up the gentle slope to stand near the white horse.

We passed some strange ripples in the valley known as the "giant's steps". These are apparently a natural earth formation caused by the melting of water in the Ice Age. (Not the ice giants!) The valley below the horse is called the manger and is said to be where the horse goes down to drink.

According to legend, the hill below the horse is where St George slayed the dragon. The legend says no grass with grow on this hill as a result of the dragon's blood poisoning it. We walked on the hill, and sure enough there is hardly any grass growing on its top.

We walked from here up to Uffington castle, which an ancient hill fort and the highest point in Oxfordshire, and then walked the ridgeway, the ancient roman road, towards Waylands Smith.

Our pilgrimage to Waylands Smith took us on many diversions most notably the village of Woolstone where we found a really quaint old mediaeval church. I thought it was a beautiful place and loved the gothic interior.

On the way down to Woolstone we saw a real white horse:

Eventually we arrived at Waylands Smith where we left a penny for the invisible blacksmith to shod our invisible horse. We then took a diversion through the very strange valley called Oddstone Coombes, looking out over the valley through the gnarled beech trees.

The walk from here was a pleasant stretch of the ridgeway heading in a straight line all the way back to the distant landmark of Uffington Castle, where we arrived in time to watch the sun set.

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