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Military environmentalism

tooltipDiscovering Britain walk

Discover prehistoric sites and rare species preserved on Salisbury Plain

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An ocean of grassland and a sweep of big sky. Ancient monuments loom out of the mist; camouflaged soldiers crouch in the undergrowth. Salisbury Plain is a landscape of extremes. It is the largest remaining area of chalk grassland in Northwest Europe and home to 2,300 prehistoric sites yet also the largest military training area on British soil.

You may be surprised to discover that the presence of the military has benefitted archaeological sites and natural habitats. The walk follows public footpaths that penetrate deep into the heart of the military training area taking you out of your comfort zone and to experience a totally new kind of landscape (don’t worry, it’s safe and legal).

Walk along the largest prehistoric long barrow in Britain to a 20th century East German village. Hunt in puddles for a tiny translucent shrimp and look out for the largest bird species in Europe.

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The extremes of Salisbury Plain sit side by side. Use this spectacular landscape to stretch your legs, blow away the cobwebs and fire the imagination.

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Walk Info

Distance:

6 miles

Level:
A moderate walk around the undulating chalk grasslands mainly on gravel tracks and grass paths

tooltipA moderate walk around the undulating chalk grasslands mainly on gravel tracks and grass paths

Suitable for:
The possibility of seeing tanks and soldiers should appeal to children

tooltipThe possibility of seeing tanks and soldiers should appeal to children

The MOD advises to keep dogs under close control around the military training area

tooltipThe MOD advises to keep dogs under close control around the military training area

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Region:
South West England
Setting:
Countryside
Landscape:
Hidden landscapes Preserving the landscape Exploiting the landscape Prehistoric landscapes
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Start:
Tilshead Garage
Finish:
Tilshead village
Getting there:

tooltipServed by local buses running between Devizes and Salisbury (limited service)

tooltipLocated on the A360 10 miles south of Devizes and 15 miles north of Salisbury; also only 7 miles from Stonehenge

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Salisbury Plain

Copehill Down
Andrew Smith, geograph
(Creative Commons License)

Salisbury Plain

Prehistoric Long Barrow
Jenny Lunn © RGS-IBG Discovering Britain

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Route map

Select pins on the map to find out more about each point of interest on the walk

Walk kit

Choose between an audio or written guide: download and enjoy!

Downloads

Written guide
A flat route mostly on urban streets

tooltipHelp with downloading - Double-click the icon to download this PDF file. You can save it to your computer or open it now. The file is designed as a booklet. To print it choose ‘Booklet Printing’ from your printer options.

Audio guide
A flat route mostly on urban streets

tooltipHelp with downloading - Double-click the icon to download this ZIP file of the audio commentary (mp3 files) and accompanying booklet (PDF) which contains maps and directions. You can save the audio files to your computer then add them to your mp3 device. This will vary for each device but you can use any supplied software (such as iTunes, Windows Media Player) or drag and drop the files. The PDF is designed as a booklet. To print it choose ‘Booklet Printing’ from your printer options.

Extras
A flat route mostly on urban streets

tooltipHelp with downloading - Double click to download this GPX file and load it on to your GPS device.

Photo Gallery

Find out what you might see on the walk - click on an image to view full size

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Links

Find out more about the walk story and places of interest along the route

External links open in a new window


Abandoned communities – Imber

Detailed article on Imber

http://www.abandonedcommunities.co.uk/imber.html

Defence Archaeology Group

Find out about how injured soldiers are involved in archaeological work as part of their rehabilitation

http://www.dmasuk.org/

Forever Imber

Website with articles, photographs and memories about Imber village

http://www.foreverimber.org.uk

Imber Church

Find out about St Giles Church in the abandoned village of Imber and dates of opening

http://www.imberchurch.org.uk

Ministry of Defence – Salisbury Plain

Find out about access and recreation on Salisbury Plain

http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/AboutDefence/WhatWeDo/DefenceEstateandEnvironment/AccessRecreation/SouthWest/SalisburyPlain.htm

Salisbury Plain Training Area Mapping Project

Find out about English Heritage’s project to map the archaeological sites on Salisbury Plain

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/professional/research/landscapes-and-areas/national-mapping-programme/salisbury-plain-nmp/

Stonehenge

Visitor information about Stonehenge which is managed by English Heritage

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/stonehenge/

Wiltshire Heritage Museum

Museum in Devizes which is home to the best Bronze Age archaeology collection in Britain

http://www.wiltshireheritage.org.uk

Recommended place to stay - Landmark Trust

The Wardrobe

http://www.landmarktrust.org.uk/our-landmarks/properties/wardrobe-12842

The Bridge Inn

Highly recommended pub in West Lavington offering food and drink

http://www.the-bridge-inn.co.uk

Fairy Shrimp

Detailed information and lots of photographs of Fairy Shrimps

http://www.arkive.org/fairy-shrimp/chirocephalus-diaphanus/

Great Bustard Group

Charity which has reintroduced Great Bustards into Britain; find out details of trips to see the birds (must be booked in advance)

http://greatbustard.org

Ministry of Defence – Access and Recreation

Find out about access and recreation on MOD land

http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/AboutDefence/WhatWeDo/DefenceEstateandEnvironment/AccessRecreation/

Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum

A museum with excellent archaeological collections including prehistoric material from South Wiltshire and Stonehenge

http://www.salisburymuseum.org.uk

Stonehenge Downland

Visitor information about the National Trust land around Stonehenge

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stonehenge-landscape/

Visit Wiltshire

Visitor and tourist information about Wiltshire

http://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk

Recommended place to stay - YHA

Cholderton

http://www.yha.org.uk/hostel/cholderton

Credits

The RGS-IBG would like to thank the following people and organisations for their assistance in producing this Discovering Britain walk

 

Marianna Dudley for researching and writing the walk, providing the commentary and photographs

 

Peter Coates for his support andassisting with the commentary

 

Richard Osgood from the Ministry of Defence for providing advice and images of soldiers from Operation Nightingale

 

Jenny Lunn for editing the walk materials and acting as narrator

 

Caroline Millar for editing the audio files

 

Iain Perkins for kind permission to use his wildlife photographs

 

David Kjaer and the Great Bustard Group for kind permission to use photographs of Great Bustards

 

Paul Reed for kind permission to use an image from his Great War Photos collection www.greatwarphotos.com

 

The Mary Evans Picture Library for permission to reproduce an sketch from the Illustrated London News

 

Maurice Pullin, Andrew Smith, Chris Talbot, Brian Robert Marshall, Chris Henley for providing photographs via geograph

 

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) for providing funding for the production of this walk under the programme 'Enhancing the Role of Arts and Humanities Perspectives on Environmental Values and Change: Policy, Practice and Public Discourses'

thank you
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