WAYFARING: Celebrating the ancient track across our area of outstanding natural beauty

Written by Tony Millett on .

WAYFARING (photo by Nick Read) WAYFARING (photo by Nick Read) Walking along stretches of the Ridgeway is one of the privileges Marlborough area people enjoy. It's not so well known that the Ridgeway is part of an ancient and  much longer route known as the Icknield Way that ran from the Dorset coast to the Norfolk coast.

Claimed to be Britain's oldest road, it is a chain of ancient tracks - including the Ridgeway - running across the country along a chalk spine.  The Way's origins have been lost in time, however tracing it today takes you near a series of notable pre-historic landmarks. 

Celebrating the Icknield Way's path across the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the 'Wayfaring' event is taking place at the National Trust's Basildon Park near Reading, where the North Wessex Downs meet the Chiltern Hills - right on the edge of the route.

‘Wayfaring’, is a collaborative installation created by artists Mandy Dike and Ben Rigby, who work together as And Now:. It was co-commissioned by the Corn Exchange in Newbury with support from the Arts Council.

Access to Basildon Park (in Lower Basildon) to see the art installation is free between July 18 and 20- visitors usually have to pay for entry to see this outstanding park and its Palladian-style country house.  And visitors can contribute to the artwork.  

On the evening of Saturday July 21 - from 7pm - live music and performance including fire and pyrotechnics, will transform the installation in a rousing celebration.  

The audience will play an active part in 'Wayfaring' - walking, looking, listening, maybe even singing.  The Saturday event is also free to attend, but tickets need to be reserved in advance - see below. 

As a curtain raiser to 'Wayfaring', the North Wessex Downs AONB has released a video marking the ancient routes of the Icknield Way.  

The video maps the route of the Icknield Way within the North Wessex Downs, and features a bird's eye perspective through aerial footage of some of its prehistoric landmarks and chalk landscape - including Avebury (c.2850BC), Uffington White Horse (c.1750BC) in Oxfordshire and Seven Barrows in Berkshire (dating back to c.4000BC).

The video can be seen on You Tube.


To recap: 
Wednesday, 18 July: 10am - 5pm FREE
Thursday, 19 July: 10am – 8pm FREE

Friday, 20 July: 10am – 5pm FREE
Saturday, 21 July: 7pm – 10.30pm. Main event from 8.30pm. FREE but needs tickets booked via Corn Exchange, Newbury: 0845 521 8218  or their website. You can arrive early and bring a picnic, comfy/warm clothes and sensible footwear.  National Trust members should bring their membership cards.