Day 68: Boyton Down – Roman Road – Wilton – Salisbury – Clarendon Palace

19.7 miles – Grey-rinse skies, with occasional desultory rain, golden sunshine at day’s close

Snippets of Beechwood, such as this, are common on the Wiltshire Downs; perhaps they act as windbreaks.

On the map the Roman road, originally going to Old Sarum, looks ideal: a lovely straight bridalway – must be easy to walk. The reality is rather different; parts of it are overgrown with brambles and it is poorly signposted. Only when I got onto the Wilton Estate did things improve, with long avenues of beech trees.

An avenue of beech trees on the Wilton Estate.

Wilton is a pretty, old town, blessed with stunning churches and chapels; sadly, I only photographed one of them.

The Church of St. Mary and St Nicholas, Wilton.

Being keen on having a shower, I looked for campsites to the east of Salisbury. So often on this walk there have been no campsites where I needed them to be. In Scotland this really didn’t matter, but since summer sprang herself on me, the need to combat the effects of perspiration has asserted itself more frequently. So I was delighted to see there was one just where I would have wished. I telephoned the site and was told I would have to pay £25, the same as for a motorhome; it irritated me, as I had been paying £8 to £10 as a walker with a small tent, and even the rather superb youth hostel at Bath had only been £17. What saved me from paying it was their dreadful website which wouldn’t allow me to book!

There is, I understand, a building of some architectural note in salisbury. Time, however, was of the essence, and so I headed for the local CAMRA pub of the year… to catch up on blog posts instead!

Ominous skies in Salisbury.
The River Avon, Salisbury Town Centre.
At the cost of presenting yet another landscape photo which would pass for the flag of a breakaway rural micronation, I long to share the effect created by this hawthorn tree on otherwise bare downland, in the gorgeous, evening sunshine.
Modern farming: a massive combine harvester consumes wheat with ridiculous ease.
Two hares, forced from their home, consider what to do. One runs back into the wheat, to its accustomed safe place, and then realises its peril just in time and the two make for the hedge. I have no idea what happens to the mice.
The combine spews forth its bounty of wheat, as it and the lorry move slowly in parallel to the top of the field, where the combine starts another run.

A few yards from the above field I found a little strip of wild meadow where I fell asleep to the heady scent of wild thyme and parsnip, and to the sound of the combine harvester, which did its work until it was dark.

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