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It was a long slog from Cherhill to Avebury and back.  My old legs almost gave out.

We didn’t help ourselves by doing a complicated route, not wanting to miss the Little London at Yatesbury (SU 070714), or Drove Furlong (actually about eight furlongs) coming into Winterbourne Monkton, or the pines outside the inn at WM (which weren’t there) and of course Avebury itself.   Maybe it’s my memory playing tricks but when I went there years ago, Avebury looked a different place.


And we had to return by another route because otherwise we wouldn’t have covered all the bases.  It was a dull day, in more than one sense, because the skies are so vast in that part of Wiltshire that you never seem to make progress.  Thank Heaven for scabious and meadow cranesbill, which accompanied us much of the way.

The saddest thing about the walk we didn’t discover till we got back to Wales: in All Saints Churchyard in Yatesbury lie the remains of 33 RAF fliers who died undergoing initial training at Yatesbury Air Base.  (The airstrip was on the edge of the A4.)  Those buried in the churchyard came from all over the world: Poland, Australia and Russia as well as the UK.  It is a horrible fact that over 10% of RAF deaths in WW2, probably even more in WW1, died in training before they ever flew against the enemy.  Guy Gibson, leader of the Dambusters, spent two months initial training at Yatesbury in 1936-7.  (Thank you, Duncan & Mandy Ball at  for making this research so easy.)

I suppose I’d better start the walk…

The church at Cherhill (038703) is built on top of a Roman villa or shrine, according to one website; and Jugglers Lane, which we joined after a short walk north-east, is a continuation of “The Drove” that appears near Sands Farm on the Calne Tithe Map.  So, Jugglers is probably Roman and certainly drovers (#1 & #2).

The Little London at Yatesbury was an anticlimax: there was a modern bungalow one side of the path and some eager little bullocks the other.  We reckoned the real drovers’ stopping place could have been two furlongs later in Snakes Lane Plantation, after we had turned sharp left at 072712.  Pine tree, a stream and nettles… (#3).  The old map wasn't much help (#4).

The rest of the way is better done on a bike.  (I hardly ever say that because there’s always something to see or wonder about, and that’s best done on foot.)  After WM (see para 2) we turned left up to Mill Lane, then right to head down to Avebury on an old road that’s just GONE! (#5).  It always amazes us how quickly Nature re-establishes her grip.

I’d love to say that the return, on the lower toll-evasion route via Bray Cottage, was better.  Not really.  If anything, the Furlongs just got even Furlonger.  And there were so few hedges.  I discovered that the agricultural depression (disease & bad weather) of the 1870s & 1880s had forced farmers to rip them out.  Labourers fled to towns, landowners turned to steam-ploughing and the result is a horribly featureless landscape.  I took no pictures.  Always a bad sign.

But we’d like to return to the Little London armed with more information and see Yatesbury Churchyard for ourselves.

Yatesbury image 1
Up to Jugglers
Yatesbury image 2
Roman Jugglers?
Yatesbury image 3
Our Little London
Yatesbury image 4
1880s Map
Yatesbury image 5
Where is it?