Dick & Gloria & Lesley & Michael's
Ridgeway Walk
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Wantage to Ashbury - 20th September 2003 - 10 miles

Back on the Ridgeway for a two day walk (after a long break since early August) with cloud/mist slow to lift. Pass under a hot air balloon descending in the haze. Pass by regimental sheep at Segsbury Castle Fort. Almost pass out with excitement as the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight passes overhead. Spitfire pilot, unable to maintain close formation, misses out on wonderful photo opportunity. Lunch suggested as remedy for energy-draining aviatory excitement. We observe that Oxfordshire fields resemble our Chiltern version but seem to contain even more chalk. Two racehorses emerge from 'gallop' as lunch ends. Lean jockey leans over and comments on "nice weather" but may have said "nice sandwich". Pause for water at Peter Wren's tap. The army is out in Landrovers today, decked out in red or white bunting, looking mostly lost, mostly at maps, and coating us in chalk dust each time they pass. Today's pub detour means a 10% hill down to Kingston Lisle. Gloria is the only one with enough energy to try the Blowing Stone and we all feel very tired on arrival at the pub. But, rejuvenated by his pint, Richard leaps on a tall wall and snaps the village stables. After effortlessly puffing back up the hill we return to the trail and Richard meets a friend out trail biking. Another WWII veteran, a ghostly Flying Fortress, appears in the distance, too far away to photograph. Our chalky walk continues and Lesley pauses constantly to record the local flora (rosehips and hawksbeard this time) and fauna (a worn-out butterfly). Sloe berries hang heavily in the blackthorn and thoughts of gin- making hang over someone's head. Waylands Smithy, an ancient burial place built when men were big and moved big stones, has been on this spot for fifty five hundred years so we give up five minutes for a rest and a photo. And, finally, down another hill to the Rose and Crown in Ashbury for a bath, a drink, a meal and bed. Tomorrow is another day...of walking!