Badbury short woodland walk (pink route)
Badbury Hill is well known for its bluebells, which in May bathe the centre of the ancient Iron Age Hill Fort in a carpet of vibrant colour accompanied by their sweet, almost intoxicating fragrance, but there’s much more to Badbury Hill that can be enjoyed at any time of the year. The mixed woodlands of larch, beech, sycamore, oak, pine, cherry and silver birch offer a haven for a wide variety of wild plants and animals, and they conceal a number of interesting arcaheological and historical features dating from the Iron Age through to the Second World War. Please note - the walk is way-marked with pink arrows mounted on wooden posts at all major changes in direction.
Badbury Hill car park SU262946
At the far end of the car park by the notice board, go through the gate. Badbury Camp is immediately opposite across a wide, shallow ditch. If you wish, you can explore the Iron Age Hill Fort either now, or at the end of the walk. If you decide to explore Badbury Camp, please keep to the marked paths.
Badbury Camp is the remains of an Iron Hill Fort. The fort was probably built and occupied from around 600 BC and was in use until the first century AD. It was mainly used for storage and would have housed round huts, grain storage pits and stock pounds inside its ramparts. Much of the evidence has been destroyed by years of ploughing although the inner ditch and ramparts are clear to see. It has been suggested that the hill was the site of the Battle of Badon (or Mons Badonicus), which is thought to have occurred between Celtic Britons and Anglo-Saxons in the late 5th or early 6th century. It was credited as a major victory for the Britons, temporarily stopping the westward encroachment of the Anglo-Saxons. The battle is known today for the supposed involvement of the legendary King Arthur, but this tradition didn’t appear until the 9th-century in ‘Historia Brittonum’. There is no certainty about the date, location, or details of the battle. Today, Badbury Camp is a woodland area, known locally as Badbury Clump, which is swathed in bluebells in May.
From the gate, turn right passing the white money donation box and look out for a shallow depression in the ground amongst the grass and trees. This is the remains of a sawpit. It may be difficult to find in the summer months as it becomes obscured by the undergrowth. When you have taken a look at the sawpit, retrace your steps back past the entrance gate (but not through it) and follow the wide track with the ramparts to the Hill Fort on your right. Continue straight ahead, past a half hidden cottage on your right and past five way-marker posts, ignoring any crossing paths. The path starts to descend a hill and after 600 metres you will reach a sixth way-marker post at a broad crossing track.
Most of England’s woodlands have been managed for timber for many centuries as a raw material for building, shipbuilding and furniture making, and for fuel. Before the days of mechanical saws, felled timber had to be partly processed by hand in the forests close to where it grew as a tree. The tree trunks would be stripped of small branches in situ and then dragged by horses to a nearby sawpit. The timber was then sawn with a long two-handled saw by two people, one standing above the timber and the other in the pit below. The resulting planks could then be transported out of the woodlands by horse and cart to local sawmills for further processing.
Turn left and follow the broad foresters’ track as it winds through the woodland.
Just after a log bench on your right, with a panoramic view across the fields and hedgerows to the east, look out for a partly hidden horse-shoe shaped bank on your left. It is set well back from the path and partly obscured by a group of conifer trees that have grown in the bowl of the depression. This is the site of the Badbury Hill Firing Range. Continue along the same track for a further 200 metes.
Badbury Hill Firing Range
When local resident was a teenager, he used to explore in the woods near Badbury Hill with his friends and they came across the firing range which is believed to have been used by the Auxiliers who trained nearby at Coleshill. The Auxiliers were fit, brave, young civilian men who were especially selected at the beginning of the Second World War to fight in a secret resistance movement should Britain be invaded. He said that at that time, the sides of the range were like a sheer drop all around the walls of the range and it was a large horseshoe shape. He said the walls of the range were peppered with bullet holes. He and his friends used to collect the spend rounds and take them home.
Just after a shared trail sign for walkers and cyclists on your right, turn left and uphill on a broad sandy track through the trees.
Coxwell Wood in summer, provides dappled shade from the trees, which include oak, ash, birch hazel and wild cherry as well as Scots pine. Look out for the ground cover of foxgloves and othe wildflowers, which in turn support bees, butterflies and a host of other insects and animals, including voles, grey squirrels, fallow deer and many species of woodland birds. Other part of this woodland are also enjoyed by mountain bike riders on designated paths.
On reaching a crossing path at the top of the rise, turn right to retrace your outward steps to the car park. Alternatively, go straight ahead and make your way back to the car park via the paths that both cross and circumnavigate Badbury Clump. Please keep to the marked paths.
Badbury Hill car park SU262946
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