It’s Spring, time to get out and enjoy the North Wessex Downs.
After a long wet winter, the days are getting longer, the water levels are (hopefully) dropping and there is plenty to enjoy in our local landscape.
The North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Beauty covers 1730 sq. km of protected landscape with chalk downland, river valleys, ancient woodland and historic sites and there is lots to see and do. (See here for more details)
So how can you best enjoy the area, now that Spring is here?
If you are feeling very energetic, or even if you’d just like to watch others exerting themselves, then look out for the Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race, held over the Easter weekend. The race is 125 miles long and the first 52 miles are along the Kennet and Avon Canal to Reading. This year, Easter is late so it may be a little warmer than usual for participants, volunteers and spectators. (See here for more details)
Spring is the best time to enjoy the woodland flowers and the North Wessex Downs includes at its centre, the ancient woodland tracts of Savernake forest and the West Woods established at the time of the Doomsday Survey and where there are still many majestic veteran trees.
In West Woods near Marlborough, for two Sundays in a row, when the bluebells are out, you can drive around the whole woods. There are plenty of photo opportunities, various paths through the woods and free parking. (See here for more details)
The North Wessex Downs also includes large expanses of open downland such as the Lambourn valley. On Good Friday, more than 30 racehorse trainers open their yards to the public to visitors can meet the horses and trainers and gain a unique insight into the Lambourn racing industry as part of the Lambourn Show. In the afternoon there is a full programme of equine and country related shows. (See here for more details)
There are over 520 scheduled monuments across the North Wessex Downs, and Spring is a perfect opportunity time to explore them before they become crowded in the summer months. The Uffington White Horse and its adjacent Iron Age hill fort is a major prehistoric defensive site with great views out across Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire to the North. There are information boards, car parks and a picnic site ready for the warmer weather.
There are lots more ideas on the North Wessex Downs website, including an interactive map to help you find your way around. (See here)
How to reach the North Wessex Downs
By Car: Junctions 12 – 15 of the M4 bring you right into the North Wessex Downs.
By Train: the area is well serviced by trains out of London: Great Western main line (Paddington to Bristol/Swansea, Oxford, Birmingham and Hereford), Berks and Hants (GW) main line (Paddington to Penzance) and LSW main line (Waterloo to Salisbury/Exeter).
The main stations in the North Wessex Downs are: Hungerford (W Berks), Great Bedwyn (Wilts), Pewsey (Wilts), Whitchurch (Hants), Overton (Wilts), Goring & Streatley (Berks/Oxon). Nearby are: Swindon, Newbury and Didcot.
For more information about what to enjoy and do in the North Wessex Downs, click here: