Hackpen Hill to Barbury Castle Walk

On a blustery, hot and sunny day this is an excellent walk for clearing the head or just taking in some of Wiltshire’s beautiful countryside and historic sites. The scribblings below are just a few of the things I observed on my walk….

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SnailsI walked here recently and was surrounded by the ever present skylarks, never visible but a beautiful accompanying song for almost the entire duration of the walk. Another invisible but very present character was the small army of shrews shrieking their territorial warnings at each other from the undergrowth.

Due to the recent rain, nearly every fence post had snails, clinging on in groups of up to seven. Not just the fence posts, one closer inspection any sturdy bit of undergrowth had snails swaying precariously along in the breeze.

The last time I walked this route it was very dry and cold, but lots of birds and insects to see, including this rather large oil beetle.



This time however the air was full of St Mark’s flies, clouds of them around the hedges and bushes, and many more lining the long grass at the side of the path. Completely harmless and slightly sluggish, they have a tendency to land on anything and everything!


The occasional Tortoiseshell butterfly could be seen fluttering at the edges of the path, in the long grass and along the hedgerows. However my favourite thing to see is the bird life, I was treated to a bored looking, young buzzard that followed me back to the car, a heron that flapped over, inelegant with his long legs dangling behind and the lovely Lapwings, looking like a couple of stunt kites, wheeling and looping.

Flocks of goldfinch with their distinctive and melodic trills, as well as  Whitethroat’s flitting between fence posts and tangles of bramble turned this from a ‘need for thinking space’ to a ‘full of ideas’ walk!

I’ve always loved this walk, years ago it was somewhere my family had Friday night fish and chips with a view, and now as somewhere to watch the seasonal changes over the landscape. To find out more about the walk along it and the Ridgeway itself, National Trails



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