Wow what an amazing find. In the third of our series visiting the Wiltshire White Horses, we’ll show you how to find the Alton Barnes White Horse. We eventually found him hiding up in the sweeping Pewsey Downs.
About Alton Barnes White Horse:
This is the third White Horse that we’ve visited and by far our favourite so far. The White Horse is in good condition, thanks to local volunteers who care for these beautiful landmarks.
The story goes that the originator of this particular horse was a Mr Robert Pile, of Manor Farm, Alton Barnes. In 1812 Mr Pile paid twenty pounds to a journeyman painter, John Thorne, also known as Jack the Painter, to design the white horse and have the work of cutting it carried out.
In 2010 the horse underwent a major renovation overseen by landowner Tim Carson and Alton Barnes Parish Council, when 150 tons of fresh chalk were delivered to the site by helicopter, which volunteers then used to replenish the surface of the figure.
There is a tradition of lighting the white horses to mark special occasions, and in recent times this horse was lit by candlelight at the winter solstices. It was also lit on 30th June 2012, marking its 200th anniversary.
Like so many places in Wiltshire, we are spoilt for choice on places to walk. Alton Barnes is no exception. From the car park there are several walking walking trails to follow that sweep up and over the Wiltshire downs.
If you love landscape photography then bring your camera as you will love it here. With a patchwork of ploughed fields, wild meadows, little copses, wild flowers and grasses. Oh and not forgetting the handsome White Horse looking out across the Pewsey Downs.
As with the other Wiltshire White Horse sites, it is a dog friendly area with lots of open space to run around, sniff out the wildlife, follow the trails (and in Coco’s case roll in anything and everything!!!).
For those who love to cycle off road this is a lovely (and popular) area to head to. Whilst we were standing next to the white horse a local cyclist appeared over the hill following the trail towards us. He stopped and chatted with us for a while. He told us that he explores most weekends. Apparently the Wiltshire Downs, the Ridgeway, the Wansdyke and Salisbury Plain are all linked by trails. Sounds like a cyclists dream doesn’t it?
When did we visit:
We visited on a Sunday morning at the end of August. To our surprise it was quite busy. There were dog walkers (like us), off road cyclists, hikers and horse riders. Sadly, the beautiful white horse being ridden on the downs went in the opposite direction to the Chalk white horse. A missed photo opportunity. Oh well, maybe at the next horse.
How to get to the Alton Barnes White Horse:
Head to Marlborough
- Drive to the end of the High Street (with the church on your right)
- Turn right onto Bath Road and follow this road until you see the petrol station
- Just past the petrol station turn left signposted Lockeridge
- Follow this road through Lockeridge and Boreham villages
- You will eventually see the Pewsey Down Car Park on your left
- Park here (cars only see points to note below)
To find the White Horse
Cross the road from the car park, go through the gate and turn left and follow the trail up the hill. Half way up you will find a Pewsey Downs Nature Reserve Information Board (you’re on the right trail) 🙂
Once at the top of the hill, stop catch your breath and take in the views behind you. Now turn right and follow the track over the next hill (the car park and road should be behind you). Once over the top of this 2nd hill you will see the majestic Alton Barnes White Horse.
Points to note:
The FREE car park is quite small with about 10-15 parking spaces large enough for cars and small vans. When we arrived the car park was full (it was August) but we pulled in on the left hand side of the car park and waited. Within a couple of minutes some dog walkers returned to their car so we were able to take their space.
Driving from Marlborough we didn’t spot any suitable motorhome parking nearby. However, on the way back (heading back towards Lockeridge village) we did spot a lay by, half hidden by the hedge. There were a couple of motorhomes parked up so looks like a possible wildcamp spot.
There were trails from there leading up onto the downs, if you headed right it would eventually pop you out at the car park site and the White Horse.
Tip: Download a map onto your phone for the area before you visit. That way you can track you walk with your GPS phone. I lost mobile signal on the downs so it took us a while to find the White Horse as he’s not visible from the car park. I wished I’d downloaded the map before I left home.
Love to explore? Download the Ordnance Survey Phone App
If you take you dog then watch out for cattle and sheep that graze in certain fields around the downs. If you spot them put your dog on lead especially when it’s lambing season. We always advocate being responsible dog owners so that we can all enjoy these lovely walks and trails. When we visited there was a herd of cows snoozing in the sunshine next to the White Horse so we kept our girls on lead in that particular field.
Where to eat nearby:
We didn’t stop to eat this time as we were only 30 minutes from home. However, I spotted a great looking pub in Lockeridge Village called The Who’d A Thought It. We’ll definitely be checking that out on our next visit. If you go before we do then let us know what it’s like using the comments section below.
- Whitewhitehorses.org.uk for more info about Alton Barnes and all of the Wiltshire White Horses.
- White Horse Trail for serious walkers there’s a 90 mile hike to visit ALL Wiltshire horses.
National Trust Lockeridge Dene – Walking Trail
National Trust Lockeridge Dene and Piggle Dene – spotted these when we were leaving so we’ll head back here another day to check this out. Along with the village and pub, sounds like a perfect autumn Sunday morning drive.
Marlborough – Highly Recommended pitstop. Very pretty high street with up market boutique shops. Famous for the very posh Marlborough College, it also has a Rick Stein restaurant and the fabulous Polly’s Tea Rooms. Just go and look at those cakes you won’t be able to resist!
We hope you enjoyed our review of Alton Barnes Wiltshire White Horse. Let us know in the comments below if you visit this white horse and found our article useful. We’d love to see pics of your visit.
Have you seen our other White Horse articles?
- Cherhill Hill White Horse
- Hackpen Hill White Horse
- Alton Barnes White Horse
- Devizes White Horse
- Broad Town White Horse
- Uffington White Horse
Want to read more Touring Tales Wiltshire articles?: Visit our Wiltshire articles section
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