Saturday, 29 August 2009

Plaum's Pit - Rodbourne Cheney

I spent some time around Rodbourne Cheney a year and a half ago in February 2008 when I was surprised to find the remnants of a small village that was once completely separate to Swindon.
Someone mentioned Plaum's Pit and today I went back to find it. What a beautiful and much hidden little spot ... I have lived in Swindon for a decade but have never visited this unsung place before. Unfortunately I am unable at present to track down the origins of this place and am assuming it used to be a quarry of some sort.

A favourite spot for anglers

Plaum's Pit, tucked away behind Cheney Manor Road

The green area leading up to the lake.

Some more sarsens - they appear on almost every green open space in Swindon

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Seven Fields Nature Reserve

Another Local Nature Reserve:
A while back while walking along Whitworth Road in the north of Swindon I noticed an intriguing looking track called Blackthorn Lane. Today I made my way there and followed my feet; what a lovely surprise, it came out into Seven Fields Nature Reserve. This is literally seven fields set aside between the residential areas of Penhill and Haydon Wick. Hedgerows still burgeoning with elderberries and hawthorn berries dividing the meadows up, it is a place frequented by dog walkers.

Today as summer wanes, the meadow grass was being cut by a large municipal grass cutter - it must have been lovely a few days ago with wild grasses in abundance. I wandered through small copses and crossed a stream which no doubt feeds into the river Ray at some point.
The meadow grass

Marsh reeds waving gently in the breeze

Blackthorn Lane - leading from Whitworth Road to Seven Fields Nature Reserve

Friday, 14 August 2009

Kingsdown Brewery

Kingsdown Brewery - built 1861, home of Arkells Ales
The Old Chimney and Cooper's Fire

One of Arkell's drays returning back to the brewery
This post is directly inspired by the mural of the previous post. Today I went over to Kingsdown to have a look at this historic and still working building. Arkells has been established since 1843 and the above building since 1861, going through their gates was in some ways like stepping back in time - much remains as it has always been, except perhaps the drays, these are no longer horse drawn.
After my little wander, I called into the Kingsdown public house on the other side of the road to sample the product ... excellent.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Swindon's Murals - Arkells Brewery

Arkell's Brewery
Artist Sarah Faulkner - completed 1985
This mural is one of only two of the original murals initiated by Ken White that remain. It can be seen at the roundabout on County Road opposite the Bristol to London railway line. It was commissioned by Swindon's own local brewery Arkell's to celebrate their beginnings in 1843. The mural shows every stage of the brewing process including some of the people who actually worked there and the building at Kingsdown.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Devil's Den and wild flowers

Devil's Den Dolmen - just outside Marlborough near the village of Manton
The dolmen and wild flowers
Nothing, no abundance of them, can ever make poppies commonplace. There is a genius in them, the genius of colour ... (Richard Jefferies from Field and Hedgerow)

Walking away from the dolmen

Not Swindon at all really but comparatively nearby; hidden away in a field off the A4 between Marlborough and Avebury. Today I met my Ramblers walking group in Swindon's town centre and was given a lift out to Marlborough. Our walk leader today led us on a rather wonderful 10 mile walk which incorporated Wiltshire's only dolmen - known as Devil's Den. It is thought that this particular dolmen was once part of a chambered long barrow and is all that now remains. It was reconstructed in 1921 and is to my eyes an incredible work of archaeological art enhanced by the meadow of wild flowers it sits within. This meadow is now under the jurisdiction of
Since making this post I have received an email with a comment from Jean Saunders from the Richard Jefferies Society
I'm aware that Thomas Hardy mentioned this dolmen in his story entitled "The Devil's Door" or "Marlbury Down". I've often wondered if this is the dolmen that Richard Jefferies had in mind when he wrote the night scene in "Greene Ferne Farm" when Geoffrey and Margaret are lost on the Downs and spend the nigh there. However, the description in GFF of "three large flat stones set on edge, forming the walls, and over an immense flat one" is more likely to be the long barrow at West Kennet or Wayland Smithy.
Thanks Jean, you're comment is appreciated and I have posted it on the Avebury Forum to see if anyone can add further information.