I am a freelance writer, living in Bath with my wife and son.
I love my city, and love to live here. I write about Bath a lot, and sometimes about travels in Ireland and France.
Published July 14th 2020
Gently undulating chalk downs (hills), an Oak tree-filled wood and secluded picnic spots abound at Ashdown. It offers wonderful strolls and perfect picnic spots. The woodland walks are all in carefully manicured and maintained pathways, which are tailor-made for social distancing.
Set in the grounds of Ashdown House, a wonderful 17th Century hunting lodge, visitors will see all manner of trees. mainly Oak trees, you can find trees in all states, from tender saplings to century-old giants. On a Summer afternoon, they offer wonderfully peaceful, gently swaying shade.
Rolling chalk downs along the horizon
The woods themselves are nestled in between the chalk hills (called downs) that fill this area. Very accessible from major roads in and around Swindon, you start to relax immediately as you drop into this pastoral paradise.
Flat, gentle pathways to explore
This is a National Trust property, and as such the grounds are meticulously well-maintained. The grounds appeared to be free entry, and we found no parking machines. It is a wonderful place to visit, and so valuable in our currently troubled times.
Country house magnificence
Although currently closed, the woods offer a superb view of Ashdown House. You can walk up a wide boulevard to a cordon rope. I could so easily imagine a Jane Austen film being set there.
Into the woods
There are all manner of marker posts and information displays in and around the woods. Just look for the symbol of the National Trust, an oak tree bough. The oak changes its colour every year, so don't be surprised to discover some green, blue, yellow and red oaks.
Cosy, ample parking for adventurers
The National Trust can charge quite steeply for parking, so this is a great opportunity to enjoy their spaces without having to pay. There is not a great deal of space, but if you arrive early (ish) in the morning, then there should be ample space.
The Uffington White Horse, carved in to the chalk hillside
A few minute's drive away is one of England's most mysterious and well-loved treasures. Carved into the chalk hillside, you can discover the Uffington White Horse. This huge sculpture/monument has been here since Neolithic times and looks as if it is running along the hillside, which is signposted 'Wayland's Smithy. There is a genuinely special and almost sacred feeling that shines out of this area, and it is not to be missed!