There’s something about a windmill, isn’t there? Something intriguing. Also, lighthouses and watermills. They were built to be work horses so I’ve no idea why I romanticize them. Is it just me?
Anyway, romanticized or not, it was a real life working windmill that marked the starting point for what turned out to be a very lovely walk. Built in 1821 and restored from a state of disrepair in the 1970’s, this is the only working windmill in Wessex. Of course, thanks to Covid-19, it is currently a non-working, working windmill. You are still welcome to visit the site though, and view the exterior.
Next to the windmill sits the stone Granary, and you’d think the two had been together forever. Although there probably would have been a granary of some sort on site, it wasn’t this one. The squat stone building was moved in from elsewhere and reconstructed. It’s a job well done, the granary and adjacent Shepherds Hut look like they’ve been there since pussy was a kitten. I don’t imagine the views across the countryside have changed much since then, either.
From the Wilton windmill to Wilton village is a short stroll down the road. For added value and bonus views, do as I did. Claim you remember the directions, don’t double check, take the wrong road. Then consult the actual route and back track. Earned me some eye rolls from The Teenagers, but also some beautiful views along the hedgerows and across the fields. This is the English countryside in a way that I didn’t think existed anymore.
If you were to write a Pretty Village Checklist, Wilton would tick all the boxes. Thatch cottages? Village pub? Duck pond? check, check and check.
We stopped in the shade outside a rather lovely little cottage to consult the map. I wasn’t going to claim to ‘remember’ again. As we did, a lady wandered down the drive towards us. An irritated resident? I thought she might want to move us on. We were loitering a bit. So she’s striding purposefully own the drive, waves her arm and says…
” Hello. Lovely day, isn’t it? Just checking if you’d like any water for the dog?”
And so began a ten minute chat in which she met our dog and we met hers and she let us know that the pub along the street would be open later for take away ice cream and where we could find some good walks in the area. Moral of the tale for me: don’t make assumptions. Also add ‘friendly locals’ to the afore mentioned PVR check list.
With time to waste before the pub opened, we headed back out of the village to find a place for the dog to swim. On the way ,we met another village resident. Cue more chat about the village, and dogs. Following the river, we came across a few spots we could have stopped. The locals here were beautiful but not quite so friendly. I don’t blame them, I wouldn’t want 40kgs of German Shepherd trying to play with my babies either.
The walk along to the canal, part of the Kennet-Avon network, took about fifteen minutes to walk and felt like a step back in years. Think old school locks, traditional canal boats and the railway line running alongside. We found a spot on the bank to sit a while and break out the flasks while the dog had a swim.
A train came through, and I sort of hoped it might be a steam train. It wouldn’t have looked or felt out of place. It was just a standard passenger train, though. Except it had no passengers, not a single one. More signs of the Covid times.
Dog dunked and tea drunk, we headed back into the village to pick up ice creams. The village pub, aptly named The Swan Inn , was a beauty. Sadly I didn’t manage to get any pictures of the interior, which was beautifully decorated with garlands of dried hops. Observing social distancing and wrestling the Little Wolf robbed me of any opportunity, but I’m sure we’ll be back.
This was one of those days that reminded me of why walking is so brilliant. Getting lost on foot has always been my favourite way to get to know a new place. When we made a big dog one of the family, walks -in- all -weathers became a daily pleasure. Then came the pandemic, and a whole new appreciation for the daily walk. For the calming rhythm of one foot in front of the other, for the things you spot and the people you meet along the way.
Oh, and the things you find along the way. My find of the day was a couple of feathers. I’m not sure what bird they are from, I’d guess maybe a Kestrel ? Whatever variety of feathered friend they come from, I liked them enough enough to pick them up and bring them home. Sorry if anyone finds that a bit grim. I have plans for this feathery find but that’s another story.
If you are in the Wiltshire area, the Wilton walk is worth seeking out. The postcode for satnav purposes is SN8 3SW. Look for the layby, the entrance to the windmill is just opposite, down a short lane.
If not, look for something similar near you. Find the heritage and the villages with small businesses and show them some love. Let’s find lots of local loveliness as we find our feet in this ‘new normal’.
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy Three Unique Wiltshire Villages.