Walking The Ridgeway - Marlborough Downs & Barbury Castle


Our Route
Very much looking forward to this leg of the walk , the penultimate one of our quest.
Another Iron Age Hill Fort, more racing gallops and potentially another White Horse to track down. What more could a rambler wish for?


We started the walk in the pretty village of Ogbourne St George this time . We walked through OSG on our last walk and got very muddy crossing the river.
According to the sigh the River Og is a 'winterbourne'. For the uninitiated as I was, a 'winterbourne' is a stream or river that is dry through the summer months. A winterbourne is sometimes simply called a 'bourne' from the Anglo- Saxon word for a stream flowing from a spring, although this term can also be used for all-year water courses. 

Winterbournes generally form in areas where there is chalk.  When it rains, the porous chalk holds water in its aquifer releasing the water at a steady rate. There was an awful lot of water flowing through the village from all the recent rain.




Up on the The Ridgeway the skies started brightly enough, however the forecast was a very mixed bag indeed. The chance of heavy blustery showers were forecast , with the threat of sleet and thunder and lightening thrown in for good measure. 

We are on Smeathes Ridge in the heart of the Marlborough Downs. Perfect horse racing country but not perfect weather I'm afraid. One of those blustery showers has blown in at rapid speed and hardly any time to get the waterproofs on .

What I love are the big open skies, the expanse is awesome and the rain doesn't matter.

It's one of those times when you feel alive and at one with the elements.   
Massive rolling skies

The rain arrives

We soon reached Barbury Castle Country Park and thankfully as quick as the rain blew in , it blew out again. I believe this part is commonly known as 'Cowpat Hill'. The White Horse Kite Flyers Club were out in force with some amazing designs. There was an Orca Killer Whale, a pair of footballers legs and a rather stunning Lionfish amongst others. It really was the perfect location to fly a kite for sure. 

Lionfish Kite

Barbury Castle
Kites in the breeze
Steep earthworks
In my opinion Barbury Castle is the best of the Iron Age Hill Forts seen so far on The Ridgeway. In perfect weather conditions The Cotswolds and River Severn can be seen.  It has two deep defensive ditches and ramparts. The Ridgeway runs right through it. The site was first occupied around 2500 years ago. Strategically placed on top of the hill there are great views across the Wessex Downs.
Barbury Castle in the distance


Our walk takes us right by the racing stables of Neil King Ridgeway Racing , and a very noisy guard dog. The yard has over 40 horses in training and is the former stronghold of Trainer Jim Old. 
It was here that Jim trained Collier Bay to win the 1996 Champion Hurdle and Irish Champion Hurdle, as well as the previous year's Imperial Cup.  

 We begin to loop back round and quickly Barbury Castle in long in the distance. It's very up and down as we make our way back towards Ogbourne St George. It's a long walk today at over 12 miles. We pass through the small village of Rockley with it's pond and Duck Island. 
It's a welcome sight though to see the Church spitre of OSG come into view. It's be a great walk , perhaps one o the most enjoyable so far.   



View looking back


 A welcome sight











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