Dick & Gloria & Lesley & Michael's
Ridgeway Walk
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Ashbury to Ogbourne St George - 21st September 2003 - 9.5 miles [Written by Lesley]

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness indeed! The day started cool and overcast with mist on them thare hills and we had what felt like rain but was almost certainly heavy mist around 1 o'clock but it was fine, sunny and dry by the time we finished.

Left the pub (£50 a head, b&b (ensuite) & evening meal, including drinks, & packed lunch) to take one car to Ogbourne St George at around 9.00 and were walking by 10am (according to the dandelion clocks), a wonderful start to the day. Dick had his jumper on, much to our jealousy as it was a bit cool... Marched on over the hills and came to the road section, definitely the worst section of the walk so far, redeemed only by Maisie's Tea Shop at the Shepherd's Rest pub at Foxhill with its lovely chocolate cat. Michael's lunch included a large bar of Galaxy chocolate (provided by me, not the pub!) which we shared with a pot of tea for four, £4. On along this road, past Zurich Insurance's training centre at King Edward's Place and over the M4 just east of Junction 15: this was the least safe part of the walk too, a nasty narrow 'footpath' which was one side or the other of a barrier placed to prevent cars parking there leaving precious little room for walkers. There is simply no alternative route but something ought to be done to improve safety on this stretch: the road has no proper footpath nor even a wide verge alongside it...

End of rant! Crossed a major road with a cheery sign about 27 fatalities in three years (mostly walkers crossing the road, I suspect) and got back into the countryside at last. I lagged behind, feeling just a little weary and hungry as well as pausing to photograph a banded snail ('the Romans brought these over, y'know') and some beautiful rosebay willowherb before finally stopping for lunch. Y'see, 'they' had eaten most of the chocolate and I only had two squares so I was very very very hungry. As we ate we could hear and see the dust from what Dick called 'a harrowing experience' in the next field - as we walked past after lunch we could see the seagulls flocking hopefully around the dust cloud. As we crossed the last road before the A346 at Ogbourne St George we saw the last of many World War II buildings, this one a little brick-built shelter of some sort: we had seen concrete bunkers sunk into the ground in several places. A badger sett in this last attractive lane was very extensive. After crossing the road Dick spotted an amazing sight, ants feasting on the body of an insect. Poor Gloria had suffered a horrible blister on her heel all day without complaint and we were all really looking forward to a drink (remember - we'd only had tea at Maisie's) in the pub outside which the car was parked but calamity! Early closing... Astonishing!

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