One of the joys of summer is the long days which give us plenty of time in the evening to go for a walk and take in the dramatic beauty of the downs and vales as the sun goes down.
Ashley Sandy at Wessex Nordic Walking takes Nordic walkers across the Vale of Pewsey and beyond. We joined her on her sunset walk at the World Heritage Site of Avebury, which is just north of the Vale of Pewsey, on a sunny June evening.
We parked at Overton Hill car park on the north side of the A4, just south east of Avebury. Please make sure you don’t leave any valuables in your car as they are, unfortunately, targeted from time to time by thieves, so please don’t take the risk.
We headed south, crossing over the A4 and after 100 yards or so, we turned right through a small area of woodland into a field and through the gateway on to the lane. We turned left here, along the lane over the stream and bearing round to the right, continued our way along the footpath. We then headed towards West Kennet Farm and followed the footpath left and up the hill to West Kennet Long Barrow, a Neolithic burial chamber about 5,500 years old. What a fantastic spot – the views are spectacular across to Silbury Hill and beyond. Whilst we explored the inside of this ancient burial chamber and the views from the top, the swallows swooped down over our heads, collecting insects in the warm evening sunshine.
We spent some time here enjoying the view and then went back down the hill and rejoined the footpath but turning left and then immediately right, heading north and crossing back over the A4. Admiring Silbury hill, with the sun setting behind it, we walked up to the top of the slope of Waden Hill and turned right along the field edge to head towards the Stone Avenue. Here we turned right, back towards West Kennett and followed the track up the slope to a typical Wiltshire clump at the top of the hill. Following the path, we then turned right on to the Ridgeway which led us back to the car park.
The sunset was spectacular and so we spent some time watching the dramatic colours changing by the second, getting more and more intense as the sun disappeared behind the horizon and realising how amazing it must have seemed to our ancestors all those thousands of years ago.
Nordic Walking is very sociable and so we all chatted and laughed as we went along. We walked back to the car park feeling thoroughly reenergised and realising how fortunate we were to be in such a beautiful part of the world.
Keep an eye out for Ashley’s walks on the Visit Pewsey Vale website What's On page or at www.wessexnordicwalking.com – highly recommended.
Wessex Nordic Walking was started by Ashley Sandy in 2015. Since the she has been running Nordic walking lessons, classes and adventure walks in the beautiful countryside around the market towns of Marlborough, Pewsey and Hungerford in North Wiltshire and West Berkshire. Ashley is assisted by walk leaders Billy Morrison and Bev Hams.
Every week her groups enjoy short and fast walks in Savernake Forest or at historical sites such as Avebury as well as regular longer adventure walks to explore the fabulous scenery of North Wessex including the Ridgeway, the Downs and all of the nine White Horses of Wiltshire.
Her groups often enjoy a celebratory coffee after the walk in the many lovely cafes around the area.
Members of the group have undertaken local challenge walks too - from improving speed and techniques at local Park runs, sponsored walking challenges for local charities as well as longer challenges such as the Sarsen Trail from Avebury to Stonehenge.