Saturday, 7 November 2015

Autumn in the Ebble Valley

For those of you not aware, the River Ebble is a beautiful chalk stream that flows from the west into Salisbury. Interestingly, it isn't legally protected, unlike most of the other chalk streams in the area. In any case, it sits in extremely picturesque surroundings, and its valley formed the basis of my walks last weekend.

I was meeting friends for lunch in The Queen's Head, Broadchalke (close to the Ebble and highly recommended!), so had a bit of time to kill. I opted for a brief yomp along the ox drove from Salisbury racecourse, which forms the watershed for the Ebble catchment.

I'm sure I've talked about these droves before, but we seem to have rather a lot in Wiltshire, probably linked to the rich farming heritage of the area, using the droves to drive cattle and sheep to market. This particular drove runs from the south of Salisbury, pretty much all the way to Shaftesbury! I settled for a quick up-and-down a stretch of the drove, to take in the magnificent autumn colours.

After lunch, we picked our way through another droveway and out across arable land, in a loop back to the pub, taking in the Ebble on our way. It was a very misty day, so the autumn colours really 'popped'. The final stretch was through what would probably have been watermeadow, but with little remaining today, apart from amazing old ash trees, with ancient gnarly trunks joined together in a line - they would probably have formed a hedge at some stage.

As I write this, the gales are blowing autumn off the trees, so I'm quite glad I've managed to had a couple of jaunts out to immerse myself in the colours, smells and sounds of autumn.

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