Great Ridge

Episode 22,  Oct 24, 2021, 04:00 AM

In which Glyn bravely battles through the podcast whilst suffering from a long bout of man flu, with frequent triggers of the mute button as he splutters into the crook of his arm as instructed by the scientists. But, ever the professional, the listener will hopefully not notice!

Paul is still in Dordogne so has obviously done nothing in Wiltshire in the last two weeks. But we had plenty to talk about.

Whilst researching something else Glyn stumbled across Potterne Midden. For those that don’t know a midden is a prehistoric rubbish dump. A landfill if you like. And Glyn decided to look into it! This one dates from the late Bronze Age and is vast, covering an area of at least 5 hectares between 1 and 2 metres deep. Excavations revealed pottery, animal bone, coprolites (fossilised excrement), worked bone and antler, bronze metalwork, flints and even human remains. It was first excavated in the 1980s but is a new one on us.

We also discuss the de-declaration of Fyfield Down as a National Nature Reserve. This caused considerable alarm when it was announced a little while ago and naturally people suspected the worst. But it seems when Natural England took a 99 year lease on the Down in 1955 there was a break clause that enabled either party to dissolve the agreement in 2019. The current landowner chose to do this. But the Down will continue to be a SSSI, and access will be maintained under the CRoW Act (Controlled Rights of Way) which identifies part of what was the nature reserve as “open access land”. Natural England will continue to work with the owner to manage the landscape under a new Countryside Stewardship agreement, so we are assured nothing will change. Which does beg the question what is the point of National Nature Reserves?

The main subject of this episode is the walk that Paul did in February 2020 taking in Great Ridge. There is a link to the blog he wrote below. This is an 8.5 mile walk part of which follows the Roman Road through the heart of Great Ridge Wood. As ever this is an area rich in history and prehistory, with evidence of multiple enclosures along the way as well as some curiously named places such as Snail-creep Hanging, and North and South Soupir. The walk also passes the immaculate and picturesque Neolithic Corton Long Barrow which is topped off by a perfect little clump.

Great Ridge is a substantial woodland where the inhabitants of nearby Chicklade once had the right to collect wood. It is now the site of a substantial commercial forestry operation and sporting estate owned by Fonthill Estate, so it’s important to stick to rights of way. But it is also a place where, if you are lucky, you may hear or even see the elusive Goshawk.

Emerging from the wood spectacular views northwards open up, encompassing a landscape full of our favourite feature – bottoms. There are bottoms galore here, several of which are open access, including Well Bottom, Long Bottom, and Whatcomb Bottom.

This is a stunning walk in all seasons but beware it can get very boggy in the wood around Point Pond and Scrubbed Oak, and the track leading from the Wessex Ridgeway to the point where we emerge from it above Well Bottom.

Then on to the wrap up:

Steve Dixon’s piece leading into the discussion about the walk is entitled “From the Edge of Grey to Green”. As ever the piece in the introduction and at the end of the podcast is entitled “The Holloway”.

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Thanks again to the ever-patient Tim Kington at TKC Sales, the UK distributors of Lowa walking boots and shoes, and for the 20% discount on their products to Hidden Wiltshire podcast listeners. Listen to the show for the discount code. It can’t last forever! You’ll find a link to Lowa Boots’ website below.

And finally, help us keep the lights on by heading to the Hidden Wiltshire Online shop. Link below.

The next episode of the podcast will be a special with guest David Dawson from Wiltshire Museum.


To follow the walk in this episode click on this link Great Ridge

Glyn’s photographs can be seen of course on this website and on his Instagram feed @coy_cloud

Paul’s photography can be found on his website at Paul Timlett Photography and on Instagram at @tragicyclist

Steve Dixon’s sound art can be found on Soundcloud where his username is River and Rail Steve Dixon River and Rail. His photographs can be found on Instagram at @stevedixon_creative and his graphic design business website is at Steve Dixon Creative

You can find Lowa Boots UK at Lowa Boots UK

And finally you’ll find the Hidden Wiltshire online shop here Hidden Wiltshire Shop