Solsbury Hill, a constant in a changing world

Solsbury Hill looms large in my life. The vista from my garden and our loft bedroom is dominated by this natural wonder.

Solsbury Hill on a winters day; its there in the distance beyond the snow

Solsbury Hill on a winters day; its there in the distance beyond the snow

Every day I get a view of Solsbury Hill, often looming large above a fog bound valley or lit by that late delicious sunshine of high summer.

When we leave the house, whether via the front door or back door, it’s always there on the horizon, a re-assuring sight in an ever changing world.

Solsbury Hill in the distance on a sunny day

Solsbury Hill in the distance on a sunny day

We’ll often try and spot, with the kids, if there is anyone walking on the hill, or perhaps see if the cows are gently grazing, happily munching, helping the wild flowers to flourish on the limestone grassland slopes.

Solsbury Hill, or Little Solsbury Hill as it’s referred to on the OS map, was the perfect spot for a camp in the Iron Age. When you are stood on the summit you can see why. It would have been the perfect vantage point across a sea of woodland below. It was only occupied for a relatively short period of time; now the population is more transient.

Climbing up to Solsbury Hill gives you a sense of the topography of the area. It’s not an easy ascent and over time we’ve got to know four or five routes, which are all very different. My favourite is a route that meanders up the contours of the land and takes you through a very old traditional orchard before following a road to the hill.

When you’re on the summit the views are stunning. There is the Georgian splendour of Bath to the west. The Westbury White Horse to the south (on a clear day). The rolling Wiltshire countryside can be seen to the east. And the beautiful Cotswold escarpment to the north.

The image that stays with me from my countless wanders around the hill is that of a skylark taking off from the scrubby cover that shields it from predators. Slowly and assuredly it lifts off into the sky, it’s beautiful and distinctive tune filling the air with sweetness. This is one of those moments in life that you can never get enough of, however many times you see it.

Thinking about it, it seems strange to imagine a day without seeing Solsbury Hill. It was part of an ancient network of hill forts that occupy the westcountry and also stands guard over the Fosse Way, an ancient long distant Roman Road from north to south. Hill forts are magical places, providing a connection to the richness of human history and wonderful places for nature to thrive.

I feel very lucky to have a connection to Solsbury Hill, a place immortalised in song by Peter Gabriel. It is a place that I never tire of seeing or being.

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