Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Wootton Rivers, Martinsell and Oare

Full sun mitigated by a strong cool breeze made another walk possible this week. I went to an area that I hoped would give some good distant views as the air was clear. I chose to link up with a walk in Savernake Forest I did last October. Here is a map of the 12 mile walk:

View Wooton Rivers - Oare in a larger map

Wootton Rivers has an attractive church in the local style.

Wooton Rivers church

The stiff breeze kept butterflies and moths clinging to the vegetation and not flying around. I saw some burnet moths but only caught one reasonable shot of this cinnabar moth (Tyria jacobaeae) hiding away behind a large leaf.

cinnabar moth

There were many flowers of which I have already posted pictures. Attractive and fragrant were roses, and I think this could be a Dog Rose (Rosa canina)


Sometimes the common names given to plants do make sense once you see them. This Bird's-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) with the flowers gone and seed-pods just developing fully justifies the name.

birds foot trefoil

Red campion (Silene dioica) was widespread.

red campion

... and Buttercups of course.


A reminder that this is deep in rural Wiltshire where old customs are still in evidence was this grim discovery. The farmer seems to have hung (or should that be hanged) a crow to act as a lesson to other crows.


The views from Martinsell Hill (289m or 950') were spectacular in nearly all directions. It forms an impressive protrusion from the chalk downs into the Vale of Pewsey.

Martinsell hill

I had been hoping to see some orchids on this walk, and indeed I came across a good patch of them, just where I thought would be the best chance of seeing them. They were 'Common' Spotted Orchids (Dactylorhiza fuchsii).

common spotted orchid

The south east view from Martinsell Hill is across the Vale of Pewsey to the chalk ridge that I have walked from Hannington to Easton Royal.

Martinsell hill view south

The view from Martinsell Hill to the west is particularly good, where the edge of the chalk down land forms the northern boundary of the Vale.

Martinsell hill view west

Martinsell hill view south

Many of the houses were thatched; indeed I saw two houses in the process of being re-thatched, good weather for it. This duck is made of thatch and may be an emblem of a particular thatcher.

thatched house,duck

I visited three churches on the walk (14 miles), of these the small chapel at Huish was an attractive one. Rebuilt by the Victorians but some elements of thirteenth century version still preserved.

Huish church

One of the surprising flowers to view up close is that of the humble curled dock (Rumex crispus)

dock flowers

The village of Oare, is ruined by the busy A road that passes through it. Oare House, possibly it was originally the vicarage, is a spectacular Georgian edifice. The only awe-inspiring spectacle though!

Oare vicarage

The walk back through farmland gave good views back up to the chalk downs I had been walking along a few hours before.


West Wick Farm was unusual in having the very old (Anglo-Saxon) style of cob walls (basically mud clay) with its own protective thatch roof.

cob wall

The final portion of the walk was along the tow path of the Kennet and Avon canal. One of only a few events of interest was a wren taking its family of new fledglings out foraging. At the edge of the canal bank were yellow flag irises (Iris pseudacorus).

flag iris

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