By the time we finished taking buses back to where we finished the hike yesterday, it was almost 11 AM. From the start, we climbed steadily under the shade of overhanging trees. Occasionally we could see the Og valley slowly diminishing as we climbed back up to the Ridgeway.
Once on top, we were exposed to the sun and heat and to miles of oat, soy bean, and wheat fields. The soil is hard-packed and muddy when wet, but it must be fertile. We walked for miles past these fields, with little variance in the scenery. We knew water would be scarce in this remote region, but it was hard to conserve it because of the sun’s intensity and the heavy packs.
We only took two short breaks. The first was just a few miles from the start (right) and the second was for a picnic lunch near Liddington Castle, under the shade of trees and on a bench at a scenic stop.
This is day three, and we met our first Ridgeway hiker, and a few traveling mountain bikers. Oddly enough, runners seem to enjoy the Ridgeway, having arrived by car.
Near Lower Upham Farm, we got lost because the signage was confusing. Near Shipley Bottom, we were walking on tractor wheel ruts, and near the plants where it was easier to walk. Dennis says, “As far as hikers go, this is the bad part of town.” Approaching the B4192 (road), I grabbed a nettle bush to prevent a fall, and my hand continues to prickle.
The road was busy and a sign warned that 27 deaths occurred in the area last year. Not wanting to risk death, we hitched about two miles to get back onto the Ridgeway, where it follows a street for about two miles before climbing back up onto the scarp.
The highlight of the day was the Wayland’s Smithy, a long barrow used for burials 5,500 years ago in the Neolithic period. On the site, there were three pot-smoking “worshipers” burning incense and wild flowers, and a drum circle of about 10 participants. If it had not been for them, we may have taken a snooze on the grassy mounds, but it was getting late and we need to continue to the B & B in Uffington. We descended the scarp after the White Horse Hill, and found the Blowing Stone. We were too tired to see if we could make a note by blowing into the stone’s perorations.
From there, we continued down to Uffington, three or more miles on tarmac. After over twenty miles, my shin was starting to hurt, and both of us were tired. We must have looked terrible, because no one gave us a lift.
Shower, meal, and sleep awaited us.