Thursday, 22 May 2008

Fyfield Down and the sarsen drift valley

Greywethers - the sarsen drift

Fyfield Down is situated between Avebury and Marlborough. It is the site of the largest naturally deposited collection of sarsens in the country.
Today I met up with a friend and we headed for the long uphill track known as Green Street (or Hare Street). We walked at a fairly leisurely pace spotting the occasional peacock butterfly and blackcaps chattering on the fenceposts. The chalk track, which was dry and deeply rutted (quite dangerous for cyclists) took us up to the Ridgeway, through a gate into the start of Fyfield Down.
The scenery changed from undulating downland to something much wilder and timeless. It was a beautiful warm day and the sheep dotted around on the slopes seemed content. We followed the trail down to the sheltered valley and made our way along through the drift of sarsens. The air was still, nothing moved around us save for the occasional pheasant that blustered up out of the grass. There truly was a sense of being in a landscape that hadn't altered for thousands of years an it was quite thrilling just to be there. I love solitary walks around the Avebury landscape, however, on this occasion I was glad to have a companion with me - the sense of isolation, whether real or imagined, was strong.
The walk back to Avebury was downhill and very pleasant. Looking down on the farm buildings and the village within the sarsen stone circle it felt as though we were looking at a community that is on an ancient crossroads where realms of time overlap and merge. Perhaps we were walking in the footsteps of our ancestors.

A place to shelter
This is hawthorn tree provides natural shelter for the sheep - strands of wool are visible on the branches.
A massive sarsen stone similar in size to those at Avebury
PeteG a local expert on Avebury and Stonehenge has told me that this stone is known as the Monster Stone