Wednesday, 12 November 2008

The Red Lion at Avebury

The Red Lion Pub - from the Cove at Avebury
Avebury is often very busy so week days are the best time to visit. Just a short walk outside the henge in any direction will bring you to the pastoral tranquility of sheep grazing in meadows - if you just want to clear the mental cobwebs away. On my visit today in the pale November sunshine, there were groups of schoolchildren with their teachers on field studies - what a lovely day out from school. The children were all, without exception, engaged and interested in the massive stones. I walked out along the West Kennet Avenue of stones to Waden Hill where there a spectacular view of Silbury Hill may be had. Today there were sheep grazing across the hill and also clambering up Silbury.
For refreshment, or just to catch up with friends, the Red Lion thatched pub sits in the centre of the stone circle. Pagans and druids gather there at certain times of the year to celebrate various festivals including the summer and winter solstice. The Red Lion has its own ramshackle charm, I recall sitting outside in sunshine by the old stable area (now an outside storeroom) with a 'walking' friend back in August and was enchanted by the fledgling swallows taking flight from the the top of the wooden doors. Quite magical.
The pub also has the old village well inside the front room of the pub which was a later addition to the original building. And if that's not enough, the Red Lion is reputed to be haunted by several apparitions including that of Florrie who (as legend has it) was murdered and thrown down the well ..... this has never been disproved as at the bottom of the well there now sits a large immovable stone.
Avebury is just half and hour's bus journey from Swindon. The no 49 bus runs hourly and is probably my favourite bus journey - as the bus travels uphill from Wroughton suddenly the downs open out and the air instantly freshens. I never tire of making this short trip from bustling town to ancient and unique landscape.