Walk of the week: Embraced by a green goddess

Stone circles in mystical Wiltshire

In 1648, John Aubrey observed that Avebury "does as much exceed in greatness the so renowned Stonehenge as a cathedral does a parish church". Since then, much has been written about this vast megalithic monument. The complex of sites, including the sanctuary, West Kennett long barrow and Silbury Hill, can be seen as a great landscape goddess with nature's cycle on display.

In 1648, John Aubrey observed that Avebury "does as much exceed in greatness the so renowned Stonehenge as a cathedral does a parish church". Since then, much has been written about this vast megalithic monument. The complex of sites, including the sanctuary, West Kennett long barrow and Silbury Hill, can be seen as a great landscape goddess with nature's cycle on display.

The ideal way to approach Avebury would be along the Ridgeway (now a national trail) after several days' walking. The modern pilgrim can easily find a bus from Swindon, Devizes or Salisbury. It will deposit you outside the Red Lion: the inn stands in the very centre of the great circle at grid ref. SUI02699 (Ordnance Survey Explorer 157). Start this easy ramble of five miles from here.

Cross the road carefully to take a little gate into the quadrant of the great circle that is ahead on your left, in the south-east. This field contains a smaller circle within the great circle. There is a second in the north-east quadrant, suggesting two wedding rings. The image of fertility is reinforced by an obelisk having once stood in its centre, like a giant phallus or maypole.

Leave by a small gate beyond the henge's bank and ditch and, ignoring the main road to your right, bear right to take another gate and walk along West Kennett Avenue. The initial impression from the first pair of stones is of sexual opposites: a female lozenge and a male pillar. Look, too, for the faces in the stones.

Go over a stile to walk parallel to the road on your left until another stile invites you to continue along the road. Go left at the A4 road but soon take a turning on your right towards East Kennett. Cross a bridge over the River Kennet and turn right along a track. Bear right with a narrow path, emerge over a stile and continue through a meadow.

Proceed across a lane, along a track then the foot of a field. Turn left up the path to West Kennett long barrow, associated with death, the end of the cycle and Samhain (early November). Descend towards Silbury Hill, the pregnant stomach of the goddess whose form was erected at Lugnasadh (early August) around 2660BC. Silbury Hill's construction seems to have coincided with an extension to the older West Kennett long barrow which enabled a sight line to appear connecting the two with Windmill Hill. Cross the A4 to pass Silbury on your left as you follow the footpath along the left side of a field. Continue with the Winterbourne on your left, reach the A4361 and cross it to go through the car park. A signposted path leads from here back to the centre of this unique village.

This is walk 12 in 'Walks in Mysterious Wiltshire' by Laurence Main (Sigma Press, £6.95).

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: Chief Executive Officer

    Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine