The Vale of the White Horse

In August I encountered one of the most mysterious landscapes I have ever seen – the Vale of the White Horse in Uffington, in Oxfordshire, England.  Although the Vale itself is fairly typical looking, with hedges delineating individual farms and holdings,

Vale of the White Horse, Uffington

The Vale of the White Horse, as seen from an outlook near the White Horse.

it is the White Horse itself that makes this destination so special.

White Horse, Uffington, Vale of the White Horse

The White Horse, viewed from below. It's much easier to photograph from an aerial perspective, but I had failed to book a helicopter.

The White Horse is described in Wikipedia as a “highly stylized prehistoric hill figure”, created of chalk (it is estimated) during the Bronze Age some 3000 years ago. (For a better aerial view of it, click here.) The figure is about 375 feet long and is cleaned periodically to keep it visible. The surrounding landscape contains some unusual ridged hills called The Giant’s Stair, and above the White Horse stands a knoll known as the Iron Age Uffington Castle.

The day we visited, the landscape was windy and clouds scuttered across the sky. A child was running with a kite.

Uffington, Vale of the White Horse

Flying a kite below the White Horse

The surrounding meadows were appropriately bleak, with an occasional outcropping of thistles.

Uffington, thistles

Purple thistles dotting the meadow grass near the Vale of the White Horse.

I won’t forget the Vale of the White Horse. See it if you can.

Explore posts in the same categories: Environment, landscape, photography, Travel

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10 Comments on “The Vale of the White Horse”

  1. gorgeous! I’m making a note of all these places you blog about so I can add them to my itinerary next time I get over to England!

    • Melissa Says:

      Mary, I think you would like this area. A bit of hiking required to get to the top, but nothing too arduous. And everything I’ve written about is within a reasonable drive of Oxford.

  2. Wonderful, Melissa. Never heard of it but now I must see it. Thank s for bringing it to my attention.

  3. Melissa Says:

    I was really surprised at how stunning it is. Bleak and beautiful at the same time. I never would have found it on my own.

    • Did you have a guide?

      • Melissa Says:

        Just the friend I was staying with, who lives in Oxford. This is a National Trust site so I don’t think it would be hard to find – the only tricky part is finding the parking lot from where you can hike up. But there are signs for two different parking areas, as I recall. Not reachable by public transportation – you’d need a car. (Yikes! Driving on the wrong side of the road!! So glad I had a friend doing the piloting).

  4. Yes I remember it well – it is visible from one of the cross country trains. I now live in Seattle but used to live in the UK

  5. John Says:

    It is a wonderful place and as an added personal interest Willis is a common name in the cemeteries there…

    Your are reminding me of why I need to book another trip to England.

    • Melissa Says:

      Yes, you should go – soon! I didn’t expect to find so much to photograph while I was there, but every day was a wonderful experience.

      Melissa Clark

      Sent from my iPhone

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