Looking for a staycation idea with the family? How about visiting some or all of the Wiltshire White Horses? At one time there were 24 white horses across Britain, 13 of which were in Wiltshire. Sadly only 8 remain, thanks to the hard work of local volunteers. The Touring Tails HQ (our home) is in Wiltshire. So we thought we’d explore the sites and history of the Wiltshire White Horse. A great summer ‘staycation’ project for Touring Tails.
Where did we go:
Our first stop on the tour was to Cherhill White Horse. This is a National Trust site located on the edge of Cherhill Down, near both Oldbury Castle and the Lansdowne Monument.
When did we go:
We visited on a Saturday morning early August. It was nice and quiet, with only a few other people walking to the top to visit Lansdowne Monument.
Why go here:
Cut into the hill in 1780, the Cherhill White Horse is the second oldest, with Uffington on the border with Oxfordshire being the oldest at around three thousand years old (dated between 1400 – 600 BC).
Most of the white horses are chalk hill carvings, and the chalk downs of central Wiltshire made an ideal location to create them. It is thought they were carved by local villagers for either religious or ritual purposes or as an emblem of the local people, high on a hill for all to see.
More recently, horses have been cut across Britain to mark coronations and to mark the start of a new millennium. The Wiltshire White horses are maintained by local volunteers, who cut back weeds and overgrown patches and re-chalk the figures every couple of years.
How did we get there:
We headed through Avebury toward Devizes and Calne. At the roundabout for Devizes/Calne we took the A4 towards Calne. The Cherhill White Horse can be seen on your left as you drive along the A4.
Parking: There are a several lay-bys on the A4 offering free parking at the bottom of Cherhill White Horse. For motorhomes, I would suggest using the larger lay-by on the left just past the White Horse.
What we liked about the site:
- FREE entry: You don’t have to be a NT member to visit this site. It is open, weather permitting, all year round.
- Dog friendly: Cherhill White Horse is a National Trust site and offers a fantastic dog friendly walk. Just remember to keep your pooch on lead if there are NT livestock grazing. There weren’t any when we visited so our girls had a great off lead explore.
- A lovely circular walk: taking in Lansdown Monument, Oldbury Castle and Cherhill White Horse.
- To start the walk, locate one of the two footpaths signposted Cherhill close to the parking lay-bys. Follow the chalk footpath up towards the white horse and monument. Walk across the ridge and follow the opposite footpath back down the other side of the hill to the main road.
- Views from the top: looking across the Wiltshire countryside are spectacular. Just sit for a while and take in the smells, sounds and sights all around you.
- Wildflowers and wildlife: Keep an eye out for lots of wildlife and wildflowers during your walk. Depending on the time of year, you’re bound to spot something.
Points to note:
At the top of Cherhill there are 1-2 benches to sit on and catch your breath, as it’s a short steep climb.
Walking boots are recommended on wet days as the chalk trail footpaths can be slippery.
Where did we eat:
We didn’t stop to eat during this walk as we were quite close to home. However, if you’re travelling some distance then I’d recommend either;
- bring a blanket and picnic at the top of Cherhill if it’s a dry day
- otherwise, The Black Horse at Cherhill is just down the road on the A4. dog-friendly pub food. Or
- head into Calne town, which is 3 miles down the road for various places to eat
National Trust Site for Cherhill Wiltshire White Horse
Whitewhitehorses.org.uk for more info about Cherhill and all of the Wiltshire White Horses.
White Horse Trail for serious walkers there’s a 90 mile hike to visit ALL Wiltshire horses.
What else is nearby:
- Avebury stones and village – Shared English Heritage & National Trust site. Such an amazing place, this needs it’s own post, which I’ll compile following my next visit (which won’t be long I’m sure, I love it here).
- Silbury Hill combine a visit here with Avebury
We hope you enjoyed our review of Cherhill Wiltshire White Horse. Have you seen our other White Horse articles?
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