This year seems to have started in a literal cloud of gloom – grey skies, rain and fog. So when the fog lifted and the sun came out today I thought I couldn’t end the day without getting out and enjoying the sunshine.
I’m very lucky in that I live on the edge of Westbury and can step out of my front door and take off into the countryside. I live at the bottom of the Salisbury Plain – today I decided to climb ‘cardiac hill’ as my friend calls it. You can certainly feel your heart thumping when you reach the top. I love the way the chalk has been shaped by the weather to look like steps into the hillside. It’s pretty muddy right now but soon dries up in drier weather.
You are rewarded by glorious views over West Wiltshire towards Devizes and beyond. It was a beautiful still day with bright blue skies and the colours astonishing.
The military have had a presence on Salisbury Plain since the late 19th century. It provides a vast nature reserve and archaeological park. Although much of it is ‘behind the wire’ and red flags warn us of live firing, a large part is still available for us to enjoy. The military area provides a good deal of clutter to ensure we don’t stray too far and to remind us that the area is strictly regulated. I must attempt one day a full circuit of the Imber Range Path – though perhaps not all at once!
The low winter sun makes observations difficult as I was travelling westwards making it hard to look out for birds. I always enjoy the views over the training area. The winter sun accentuates the way that the terrain has been shaped over the millennia by nature and man. The deep dry valleys and the lynchets or ruts created by military vehicles.
This walk takes you along the Imber Perimeter path and then plunges down towards Upton Scudamore below and then over the A350. I wanted a slightly longer walk so crossed over the road into Upton Scudamore. It has a fine early church with some lovely features but today I took the path to ‘Biss Bottom’ – a great name where there is a water treatment plant harnessing the water from the River Biss, just one of numerous springs which emerge from the chalk aquifer around the edge of the Plain.
As you climb back up from the valley bottom, the busy railway line brings you back to reality and you are treated to wonderful views back over to the edge of the Plain and its seemingly sculpted edge. This solitary tree caught my eye bathed in late afternoon winter sun.
On the home straight now through Old Dilton and home following along yet another chalk stream which feeds the Biss.
It was good to get out – I’m too easily persuaded that my never-ending ‘to do’ list is more important – but today it was good to leave it behind.