I have wanted to do this journey for a very very long time, since maybe to late 1990’s. Finally i was able to take the time out and walk the Ridgeway path from Ivinghoe to Avebury. The Ridgeway is an ancient path dating back 5000 years that has been used as part of a trade route throughout history. Throughout its length there are remnants of its past importance, the whole route is studded with burial mounds, long barrows, hill forts and earthworks. The idea was to walk to whole way carrying everything needed for camping along the way and to carve spoons along the way, using wood found that was already on the ground.
Starting off from Ivinghoe Beacon that rises out of a vast area of flat land immediately i am reminded of both the North and the South Downs as the Ridgeway hills are also made up of Chalk and Flint. Met a few people who were nearing the end of their walk having come from Avebury, to be honest i never gave it a second thought that the walk could or should be done the other way round, they all said it was recommended because of the prevailing winds coming from the South West. Lots of varied scenery along the way from shady avenues of Beech and Lime to CCTV lined paths of the Chequers estate.
Chequers Estate keep out signs
I did wonder what i had taken on as the weight of the pack felt crushing with a full load of water and food and very few places to camp on this first day, forcing me to push on to Whiteleaf Hill near Princes Risborough. There are two Barrows up here and the place has a very good feeling about it.
What if I lived 6000 years ago
When the Farmer came to be
What if I could travel back in time
My thoughts are told within this rhyme
Of a Neolithic me.
What if I built a little hut
For my family and I
And ground the flour hour by hour
Until my arms ached and I ceased to try.
What if a man died one day
And we buried him in a Barrow of might
Then we broke up a pot to scatter about
And a feast reigned on all night.
What if i found one day
In a mound of majesty
6000 years I was underground
With artefacts all around a Neolithic me.
by Sophie Floyd
The next day was even hotter and any shade was very welcome today. Water is difficult to find up on the Ridgeway and i had to resort to buying bottled water to keep me going today. A shorter day today and I ended walking at White mark hill campsite near Watlington.
Day three was a much more interesting day with some varied scenery, the highlight of which was definitely Grim’s ditch. Then there was a long walk alongside the Thames in to Streatly and my bed for the night in the YHA.
Day four was colder and windy too, but i plodded along cheerily enough. There have been views out mainly to Didcot power station, which can only mean one thing that i will be meeting up with my sister Liz and Paul.
So far a very pleasant journey and relatively uneventful, but all this will change soon.