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The Marlborough Downs are a set of grass-covered chalk hills that help to prevent Swindon from making progress to the south. Being easy to dig, the hills share much in common with the neighbouring Lambourn Downs, in that they are covered in ancient castles, burial mounds and horse gallops.
Our walk starts at a free car park on the top of the downs, which gives the unwelcome knowledge that you'll be walking up hill for most of the afternoon - no need to worry though, as the slope is gradual and barely noticeable after an initial up. The circuit follows well-worn lanes and paths down into the valley, with verdant views across the Kennet Valley and the Savernake Forest; then we climb back onto the Ridgeway for the occasional unavoidable sighting of Swindon.
Well-behaved dogs (and owners) are welcome on the walk, but we will be passing through some fields containing livestock - if you have any questions, get in touch by message (I don't always see the comments).
All photos were taken by the author and OutDoorlads has permission to use them.
IMPORTANT! - Participation Statement
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Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are extremely mild, or who has recently tested positive for Covid-19, is asked not to attend.
What to bring
Water: bring at least two litres
Medicines: if you have hay fever, diabetes, minor ailments etc.
Day rucksack: typically 20-30 litres, they are comfortable to wear and allow you to use your arms freely
Boots: waterproof and breathable and designed for hiking, trainers are OK if the ground is dry and there’s little chance of rain
Gaiters: recommended for wet weather or boggy conditions
Socks: proper walking socks will keep your feet dry and help prevent blisters
Layered clothing: lets you quickly adapt to changes in the weather and body temperature. Go for a base layer (vest or t-shirt) and a mid layer (a micro fleece or shirt) and in cooler weather add an outer layer (a windproof jacket or thick fleece)
Trousers: ideally no jeans as they become heavy and cold in the rain, breathable fabrics are more comfortable and dry and on warm days shorts are OK
Waterproof jacket: essential when hiking in all but the calmest of weather, breathable fabrics are more comfortable and dry
Gloves: Windproof, or better still, waterproof gloves are the best choice, bring a spare pair if expecting rain
Hat or cap: stay warm in winter and shaded in summer
Sunglasses: for any sunny day, even in winter
Sun cream: can be useful even on cloudy and winter days
Snacks: bring biscuits, energy bars, gels, bananas, chocolate or dried fruit for example and put them somewhere easy to get hold of
Lunch: bring a packed lunch unless otherwise stated
Food & drink
Please bring sufficient food and drink for the walk. There is no pub stop planned on the walk and no where on route to buy food and drink. We will have regular breaks and a picnic lunch.