Holiday: Marlborough – Day 4 (of 5)

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Picture of the Day: Heale Gardens

6.30am: A bit of a lie-in this morning! ?

According to the forecast, it’s another warm one today, so we plan to make the most of it. We’re heading out to Heale House and Gardens in nearby (ish) Middle Wooton and then onto NT’s Cherhill Downs – armed with a picnic of course! ?

Actually, the day would turn out to be one of those where we covered a lot of miles (75!), but didn’t feel we’d done that much! So, let the day begin…

9.05am: Breakfast without a hitch again today! That’s a good start! ? Yummy sausages too!

10.55am: An hour charging the car, and we were then 96% full and had an extra 100 miles in the tank – all for less than £9! Happy days! ?

Heale House & Gardens

11.45am: As planned, our first stop was Heale House and Gardens. It covers eight acres of beautiful gardens and lies beside the river Avon at Middle Woodford, just north of Salisbury. Those that know me, know that history is not my specialist subject but I’ve learned that much of the house is unchanged since King Charles II hid here in 1651 before taking a hovercraft to Calais riding to Shoreham and taking a ship to France. The House and Gardens are now privately owned and judging by how full the tea-room was (with plenty of socially-distancing outside) when we arrived, it’s a popular destination. I don’t think the loo will win any prizes though – shall we say functional rather than attractive? ?

Heale Gardens

More about Heale House and Garden HERE

As pretty as it all was, we’re not sure where the advertised eight acres were! We’d covered it all in about 25 minutes. Visually, the flora was a bit past its best and in truth, we were disappointed with what was on show. The upper lawns were very neglected and the roses needed dead-heading – and that looked like a few days’ work in itself, given the quantity. It all felt a bit unloved and probably not worth the £6 each to get in. A real shame! ? Maybe, seasonally, we just timed it badly…???

…and the fact that the House was closed (as expected) limited our options!

Heale House

Thus far, it was all a bit lack-lustre, but at least the kitchen garden had some colour and variety in it…

1.05pm: After being slightly underwhelmed, we reverted to something much more predictable – our picnic lunch – so we set up the chairs and table next to the car and enjoyed the food and the local sunshine!


1.35pm: Well, at least the picnic impressed us! ? Whose turn for the washing-up?

Cherhill Downs

Next stop, the ‘biggy’ for the day – Cherhill Downs. It’s a vast area owned by The National Trust and features the Cherwill White Horse, Lansdowne Monument and Oldbury Castle.

More about Cherhill Downs HERE

With these on the to-do list, we knew we were in for a treat! I’ve never seen any sort of horse-on-a-hill before and we’d both commented how interesting the Lansdowne Monument looked when we saw it on the horizon earlier in the week.

2.40pm: As things turned out, all three were out of our reach (literally!). The first challenge was actually locating the three attractions (and they’re apparently all pretty close to each other). Why? A combination of inaccurate sat-nav co-ordinates online put us down a road that was definitely lacking in any horses of colour – instead, a row of houses and a guy clipping his hedge. A quick check online gave us another post-code to follow, some 12 miles away. WTF!!!! ?

We took off, hopefully in the right direction this time. 25 minutes later… and success!… as we got close, we could see the Monument in the distance. As we counted-down the miles to the sat-nav location, it became one of those times where it was ‘blink-and-you-miss-it’ – AND WE DID! Fortunately, the roads are pretty quiet down here at the moment, so we u-turned half-a-mile-or-so later and re-traced our steps. We just couldn’t figure out where we’d gone wrong. ??

It turned out that the official stop-point was actually just a lay-by (capacity, three cars, with two already there). We parked-up and looked around us – and there were the two out of three! The Horse and the Monument, both in the distance, with a makeshift path that would have challenged the best of the SAS! As we didn’t have a rope, a walkie-talkie (mobiles don’t work down here!) and only enough food for two days, we (ahem) ‘declined the opportunity’.

…and before you say ‘they don’t look that far away in the photos’, the pics above were taken on 10x zoom! ?

2.55pm: So now all we needed to do was work out where the ‘Castle’ was – and based on our performance so far, we didn’t hold out much hope! Ten minutes later, we gave up, only then to see a single damaged (small!) sign on the same side of the road around 100 metres BEFORE the very same lay-by! But by then we were driving in the opposite direction!! ??

3.05pm: We love the National Trust and everything they do, but this was a big disappointment for us. Apart from the sat-nav error, a bit of obvious signage on BOTH sides of the road would have made all the difference! And how about a decent footpath? We’re not all mountaineers! ?

We headed back to the Hotel feeling that today hadn’t been one of our most enjoyable ones. It’s all pretty desperate when the highlights are 1/ a successful car-charge and 2/ the sausages at breakfast. ??

7.00pm: We took an evening stroll around the local area taking in the Stonebridge Wild River Reserve.

A perfect end to an imperfect day!

The weather forecast for tomorrow is atrocious, so we’re heading INSIDE and for the Shopping Outlet in Swindon to bag some bargains.

See you tomorrow! ?

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