Sunday, January 22, 2017

Wittenham Clumps

I love discovering interesting new places not far from home. Today's discovery is just 11 miles south of Oxford. We hiked to the top the Wittenham Clumps -- Round Hill and its neighbour, Castle Hill.  These two hills sit side by side, each surrounded by fields and with a clump of trees on top. Castle Hill was once home to a Bronze Age hill fort and the mote that protected the hill fort is still quite evident. 

When you climb to the top of either hill, you will be rewarded with stunning views of the county side, stretching as far as the Chiltern hills to the east and the Cotswolds to the west. Today the views were a bit obscured by a winter haze that made the countryside look soft and impressionistic. 

Known as Wittenham Clumps, the trees on both summits are the oldest known planted hilltop beeches in England, dating back more than 300 years. Also called the Sinodun Hills, the Wittenham Clumps are part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Round Hill

The Wittenham Clumps were made famous by the British landscape artist Paul Nash. He discovered them in his late teenage years and he was immediately caught by their atmospheric shapes and mystical associations. The Clumps became a rich source of inspiration and he returned to paint them many times during his life. His first paintings of the Wittenham Clumps were made just over a hundred years ago, in 1912. 

Click here to learn more about Paul Nash and his painting of the Clumps

The view to the north

The mighty Thames at Dorchester

Castle Hill

The view to the west

This is what I call British "Snow".  It is a deep frost that melts only when the sun shines on it.  We have frosts like this in our garden, woods, and paddock nearly every night during the winter months.   

I look forward to coming back and exploring more on a clear day and when  the wildflowers are in bloom.

For more information about the Wittenham Clumps:

Wittenham Clumps Wikipedia

Click here for directions for a 4 miles walk that includes the Wittenham Clumps

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