2021 – a year in pictures

Articles

Part 1 – from January to March

It’s a bit late but…Happy New Year from Oldbury Tours!!

Like everyone else, we at Oldbury Tours hope that 2022 will bring us all back to a life we can recognise as normal. I hardly need to say that last year was a strange and difficult one. The tourism industry obviously took a massive hit and I was only able to show a few people around my beloved Wiltshire.

The few tours I managed were spread throughout the year at an average of one or two a month. Encouragingly the winter solstice period around the 21st December was particularly busy with three tours in three days!! Having to get up early to wash the car each day reminded me of the busy times of 2019 that will hopefully return this year.

In the meantime I thought it would be good to reflect on 2021 without too many words.

The first quarter of the year saw us in lockdown so I couldn’t venture too far from home. I did manage one tour however an outdoor day walking from Honeystreet in the Vale of Pewsey to Avebury.

January snow dusts Cherhill our local highpoint. It is surmounted by Oldbury Castle, an impressive Iron Age hillfort and the Lansdowne monument
White on white: In 1780 a white horse was carved below the hillfort’s ramparts.
Lacock Abbey is a popular destination for Oldbury Tours – I love telling the medieval tale that links Lacock with Countess Ela, William Longspee, Salisbury Cathedral, King John and King Richard the Lionheart.
A February visit to West Woods from where at least one of the Stonehenge stones was collected and dragged over 20 miles to be part of the great monument.
Nearby more sarsens fill the fields of Lockeridge Dene.
Shadows from the giant Avebury sarsens protect the frost from the February sun.
In late winter water often fills the area around the base of Silbury Hill – I have little doubt that the monument’s late Neolithic builders were deliberately harnessing Nature to their purpose.
Back with the naked trees of West Woods, a wonderful place in winter and early spring.
Lesser Celandine – a welcome yellow starlet – is one of the first flowers to show in Spring, lining roadsides and the woodland fringes.
My first client of the year – I joined Dan on the final stretch of his ‘life-affirming’ walk from Avebury to Stonehenge and back again.
We pass the ancient enclosure on Knap Hill (c.3600BC)…
…and the unexcavated East Kennet Long Barrow of similar age.
Contentment as the pilgrimage ends where it started – at the Devil’s Chair, Avebury
March is a good time to visit Swallow Head spring: the source of the river Kennet and the probable reason for Silbury Hill’s existence. In summer the banks are an impassable tangle of nettles and briars.
Among the chalky grey crop-less soils of March a yellow hammer, in its spring plumage, is uncomfortably conspicuous.
A stile encourages the walker on and up…
…back up to Oldbury Castle, the white horse lying neatly on the hillside. Three walkers on the hilltop earthworks provide a useful scale.
Spring daffodils enjoy the view across the lake to Bowood House near Calne.

In part 2 we will travel through the colours of spring from April to June.