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Westbury White Horse and Imber Range Path

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Westbury White Horse and Imber Range Path
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 20 May 2012 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Westbury White Horse and Imber Range Path Walking Guidestar1 Westbury White Horse and Imber Range Path Walking Guidestar1 Westbury White Horse and Imber Range Path Walking Guidestar1 Westbury White Horse and Imber Range Path Walking Guidestar0 Westbury White Horse and Imber Range Path Walking Guide
Wiltshire, Warminster
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Westbury White Horse and Imber Range Path
Length: 4 miles,  Difficulty: boot Westbury White Horse and Imber Range Path Walking Guide boot Westbury White Horse and Imber Range Path Walking Guide boot Westbury White Horse and Imber Range Path Walking Guide boot Westbury White Horse and Imber Range Path Walking Guide
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A 4 mile circular walk through the chalk hills of Wiltshire. The route takes in the Westbury White Horse and the adjacent Bratton Camp Iron Age hill fort before descending to St James’ Chuch in nearby Bratton and then climbing high into the hills to return via the Imber Range Path. The walk is quite exposed and strenuous but the stunning views are a just reward.

The walk follows a mix of quiet country lanes and grass hillside paths/bridleways, some of which will be a little muddy and slippery after wet weather. There are several climbs and descents and one of the climbs is quite long and steep. There are sheep grazing in Bratton Camp. There are a number of kissing gates and one stile, which is quite high and is surrounded by wire mesh fencing, so most dogs will need a lift over. Just before you reach St James’ Church you will also need to cross a stream. It is quite narrow and there are bricks and stones laid across the bed to help, but you will need waterproof boots! There are no toilet or refreshment facilities on the route but you do pass quite close to the village of Bratton and, if you’re lucky, there may be an ice cream van at the car park at the start. Approximate time 1.5 to 2 hours.

The walk starts from the Westbury White Horse car park, a large stone car park on Port Way, south west of Bratton. Approximate post code BA13 4SP.

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Walk Sections

Car Park to White Horse
Car Park to White Horse

Start point: 51.2611 lat, -2.1457 long
End point: 51.2636 lat, -2.1467 long

Leave the car park, cross the access lane and go through the entrance kissing gate into the Bratton Camp site. Note sheep are grazing here so dogs must be on a lead. Immediately through the entrance there is an English Heritage information site explaining some of the history of the site.

Continue straight ahead on the obvious path across the field. Within 100 yards you will be able to enjoy the magnificent views to the north over the valley below.

As you reach the top of the ridge, veer right down a few shallow steps and go through a kissing gate. Go on the path ahead and the Westbury White Horse will be on the slope to your left.

It is thought that the horse was originally cut in the late 1600s, probably to commemorate the Saxon victory of the Battle of Ethandun, thought to have taken place at Bratton Camp in 878AD. Cut into the chalk, the horse originally had to be scoured regularly to keep it white. The last recorded scouring took place in 1853. In the late 1950s the horse was preserved by covering it in white-painted concrete.

White Horse to Bridleway
White Horse to Bridleway

Start point: 51.2636 lat, -2.1467 long
End point: 51.2667 lat, -2.1324 long

Continue ahead on the ridge top path, passing the horse on the left, and then following the path as it swings right. Over to the right are the mounds of Bratton Camp.

The earthwork defences of this Iron Age hill fort were built at Bratton Camp more than 2,000 years ago. The settlement within the mound included round houses, granaries, stores and workshops. The double banks and ditches would have been formidable obstacles to enemies. Around 3,000BC, a Neolithic long barrow had been built on this same site.

As the earthworks end, go ahead through a kissing gate and continue straight on marked as the mid-Wiltshire Way, keeping the valley slopes to your immediate left. Follow the path down a narrow chalk slope and then ahead following a fence now on the left.

Follow the grass path sloping downhill. Cross over the stile ahead (dogs may need a lift) and then just a few paces later, turn sharp right heading back up a bridleway. At the T-junction with the lane, turn left heading downhill. Continue until you reach a bridleway off to the right.

Bridleway to Stream
Bridleway to Stream

Start point: 51.2667 lat, -2.1324 long
End point: 51.2663 lat, -2.1253 long

Turn right onto the bridleway, a narrow path with hedgerows each side. After a little distance the bridleway becomes a tarmac lane and curves left and downhill. At the crossroads, turn right going downhill.

Pass by Combe Cottage and a stone bungalow on the left, and then straight afterwards, fork left marked with a green sign as a public right of way. Follow this path as it swings left between hedgerows. Continue until you come to a stream on the right.

Stream to Longcombe Bottom Bridleway
Stream to Longcombe Bottom Bridleway

Start point: 51.2663 lat, -2.1253 long
End point: 51.2683 lat, -2.1209 long

Cross the stream with care here, using the stones and bricks laid on the bed. On the opposite bank follow the steep track climbing up to the left. You will come to a T-junction with some paved steps. Turn right heading uphill towards the church entrance. Go into the church yard of St James’.

Follow the path which passes close to the right of the church and then leave the churchyard via the metal gates at the front. Go straight on along the tarmac lane ahead.

After some distance you’ll pass through a pair of stone columns (the outer entrance for the church). Immediately afterwards turn sharp right onto a bridleway signed for Longcombe Bottom.

Longcombe Bottom Bridleway to Imber Range Path
Longcombe Bottom Bridleway to Imber Range Path

Start point: 51.2683 lat, -2.1209 long
End point: 51.2578 lat, -2.1223 long

Follow this woodland track heading steeply uphill. Pass through a metal gate and continue ahead up the steep grass/chalk path, with the fence on your left. At the very top of the hill take time to enjoy the views and collect your breath!

Go through the metal kissing gate to your left and follow the field edge path, keeping the hedgerow to your right. At the end of the crop field, go straight on past a small woodland on the left.

Follow this wide clay fenced track now climbing more gradually uphill to reach a gate across the track.

Imber Range Path to End
Imber Range Path to End

Start point: 51.2578 lat, -2.1223 long
End point: 51.26 lat, -2.1446 long

Go through the gate and turn right onto the Imber Range Perimeter Path. Enjoy this now easier stretch of walking along the wide level tarmac track.

This stretch of the Imber Path is also part of the Wessex Ridgeway, which runs from Marlborough in Wiltshire to Lyme Regis in Dorset.

Over to the left is the Imber Range live firing Ministry of Defence facility on Salibury Plain. The range is named after the now uninhabited village of Imber which sits within the facility. The village was evacuated for the use of American troops during World War II, but after the war the MoD kept the village buildings for training purposes. Access to the church, St Giles, is granted to local people twice every year - on the Saturday closest to St Giles day and for a carol concert around Christmas.

After some distance you will pass a small collection of farm outbuildings on the right. Immediately afterwards you’ll come to a complex junction of paths. Take the public footpath marked to the right through the gap in the fence. Go ahead onto the grass meadow, keep right and then left and you’ll reach the car park on the opposite side.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2012 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


1 responses to "Westbury White Horse and Imber Range Path"

Beautiful views and very clear directions - VERY muddy on a sunny feb day.

By nickyjfrost4 on 2015-02-18 12:49:08

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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