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Follow in the footsteps of great writers who found inspiration in this landscape …...
Download details from our walks page or buy the full booklet of four walks from 'Walking the North Wessex Downs, through art, history and literature from Wiltshire Museum, Devizes
Liddington Hill circular walk
4.5 miles – allow at least 2.5hours
Terrain: No stiles, can get muddy, one steep descent
Discover Shipley Bottom, a fine example of an enclosed coombe or short valley once described by the writer and poet Edward Thomas (1878-1917) as ‘walled on every side by down and sky’. Thomas is among 16 Great War poets commemorated on a stone in Westminster Abbey's Poet's Corner.His writing has influenced the works of nature writer Robert Macfarlane who wrote ‘The Old Ways’ first published in 2012.
Follow a route used by seemingly forgotten poet Charles Hamilton Sorley (1895-1915). He studied at Marlborough College from 1908 to 1913 and his experiences on the downs inspired poems such as Barbury Castle. (Sorley’s memorial stone lies further west along The Ridgeway, near Ogbourne St George).
Visit Liddington Hill, the site of a memorial to Richard Jefferies (1848-1887) and Alfred Williams (1877-1930), both of whom wrote about the hill. Williams was a self-taught writer who described Swindon railway life and Wiltshire villages. Jefferies wanderings across the Wiltshire downlands are thought to have inspired his mystical rapport with nature, as expressed most fully in his autobiography ‘The Story of My Heart’. When Jefferies stood on the Liddington Hill, he enjoyed a view ‘over broad plain, beautiful with wheat and enclosed by a perfect amphitheatre of green hills’. The view today is different and unfortunately motorway noise can be a feature! See Jefferies’ family memorabilia, archive material and more at the Richard Jefferies Museum in Coate, near Swindon.