There's a lot of white horses in Wiltshire, the hill carving kind of white horse - but you already knew that, didn't you?
We had a mad plan to visit eight of them all in one day. Yes, eight. We're nothing but ambitious... And a bit rubbish as it turns out: we managed two of them and a kiwi (not the fruit. I expected a hill carving of a fruit, imagine my disappointment).
I grew up near the White Horse of Kilburn and thought Yorkshire was unique in its ownership of such a magnificent feature (where the Fey resided beneath) but it turns out I was wrong (about the uniqueness, not the Fey, obviously) and you can't move for falling over a white horse down south.
Our first horse was in Malborough. The Malborough or Preshute horse is a bit anorexic these days. It apparently used to be a bit bulkier when it was first carved into Granham Hill by boys from Mr. Greasley's Acadamey in 1804.
|No, it really is a horse.|
We were still confident in our ability to fill our day with vast numbers of hill figures at this point and eagerly made our way to our next destination. Well, it wasn't even lunch time and the day still loomed large and bright ahead of us. We were, however, reliant on my map reading skills and "umm" apparently should never be the answer to "which way now?" or "where are we?".
We did find our way to the new Pewsey Horse on Pewsey Hill (helpfully named there) and stopped here to have our lunch. This horse is definitely more horse-like and well worth the climb up the VERY STEEP hill to get to - even if it was just to giggle at the 'Animals please shut the gate' sign. Well, it was in a field of (literate) cows. This one was carved in 1937 to mark the Coronation of George VI.
|Actually, it does look a little whippet-like.|
Did I mention the VERY STEEP hill? There was a lovely view from the top of it but I did have to hide behind Rob and use him to block my view of the sheer(ish) drop to clamber back down.
|Don't look down.Don't look down. Don't look down...|
It was mid afternoon by the time I had been edged down the mountain (I may have upgraded the hill status here) and so we thought we'd make one final push to fit in another hill figure so we could be home in time for tea.
My navigational skills had improved somewhat by now although I did become a little concerned when we drove down Gaza Road. Gaza? What?
Gaza Road is next to Baghdad Road and that's not disconcerting at all... Turns out we were in Bulford Barracks and here we found a kiwi (not the fruit) carved into the side of Beacon Hill. It was carved in 1919 by the Canterbury and Otago Engineers Battalions awaiting their homeward voyage to New Zealand.
|Not a fruit.|
It took us a while to find and I was becoming a bit worried that driving endlessly around an army barrack in a white van was a bit conspicuous. There's nothing like vast amounts of razor wire fencing to make one feel welcome. After climbing the hill to see the kiwi and finding a notice about improvised explosive devices I declared that being arrested/shot at/water tortured for looking suspiciously out of place (and clearly dressed as a hiker) was not on our To Do list that day and decided it was time to head for home.