Ah, Swindon. Who hasn’t dreamed of visiting that mythical Wiltshire town? I know I certainly have since I started walking along the ridgeway last week. So armed with maps and ample supplies I returned by bus to where I’d left off last time and headed west.
It’s a primal landscape dotted with iron age hill forts and ancient burial mounds. In places fire and brimstone bursts forth from the earth:
At one point I came across hundreds of people milling about in a field. Turns out this was a metal detecting convention. Occasionally they would stop and poke at the dirt a bit, but no treasure was forthcoming while I was there.
To the north of the path is the “Vale of White Horse”, named after a giant white horse carved into the hillside by some iron age folk. For a local landmark it took quite some finding, and only onced I’d struggled up the hill did I notice the conveniently placed ancient viewing platform. So this photo doesn’t really demonstrate its horsey qualities:
One of the highlights of the trip was this 5000 year old burial mound in a glade just off the path. It’s called Wayland’s Smithy and was honestly a little bit creepy. Especially as I was the only one in the area.
After 20 or so miles I arrived on the edge of Swindon in a village called Wanborough. I didn’t fancy dashing over the dual carriageway and trudging through the outskirts of the town so instead I waited for a bus. Alarmingly a poster at the bus stop announced the imminent withdrawal of service. However the bus did eventually turn up and I was the only passenger for the entire trip, which perhaps explains its unprofitability.
On the way into Swindon the bus traversed one of the towns major landmarks: the Magic Roundabout. Now it wasn’t quite exciting as I’d expected, but that didn’t stop me taking a few snaps from the bus. I thought I heard the driver sniggering. If I were on Swindon council I would be promoting this as a tourist attraction, like Slough should have done with its bus station. There’s already a roundabout appreciation society who produce a mouse mat of this very junction so there is interest out there.
Speaking of bus stations, Swindon’s bears an uncanny resemblance to Slough’s former, much maligned, Brunel bus station.
Fun day out! Below are some more photos from my adventuring.