The Court Hill Centre (near Wantage) is just off the ancient Ridgeway path. It is an ex-YHA hostel that still offers hospitality to walkers travelling the path. Its a charming set of buildings, all wood beams and exposed bricks, arranged around a central grassed courtyard.
Although designated a National Trail in 1972, the Ridgeway has been used for up to 5000 years. I love that Britain has these sorts of places, in continuous use for thousands of years, by Bronze age people, Romans, Vikings, medieval and modern.
I’m reminded of the words of inspirational walker and writer Robert MacFarlane, who like me, loves this sort of road. “Paths are human,” they are formed of the habitual passage of feet. We walk them alongside the spirits of all those who have walked before. We add our footprints to theirs. We share the same views. If you walk the Ridgeway across the chalk of the North Wessex Downs AONB and The Chiltern Hills AONB, you can’t help but be aware of the history (and pre-history!) that you’re walking through. From the Uffington White Horse, past Wayland’s Smithy to Avebury Stones, it links atmospheric ancient site to dramatic vista. The path takes in the tops of high chalk ridges, tree lined lanes and hollow ways.
Dramatic, Atmospheric, steeped in ancient, ancient memories.
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