Ramsbury Walks – Lipyatt / Marridge Hill (Ramsbury Footpaths #21 and #32)
This path originally linked Ramsbury with the hamlet of Marridge Hill and perhaps also with Lambourn, over the downs.
Just where Crowood Lane leaves Ramsbury, a signpost by a gate points north. This section is Lipyatt (or Lippiat) and takes a shortcut over the hill, tracking the hedges (sometimes to the left, sometimes the right and occasionally straight down the middle). Across Crowood Lane again and then down the path, fenced either side, to Crowood Farm. This is part of Crowood Estate, inhabited and farmed since at least Roman times. A notorious incumbent, for 5 years after WW2, was Oswald Mosley – he was famously refused service by Ramsbury’s village barber!
The footpath leads straight through the farmyard. Take care crossing the B4192, which many drivers seem to think is still an A road. A handy bridge has replaced the ford across the Whittonstream but watch for wet weather when this winterbourne floods and you have to wade to the bridge in the first place!
The path now climbs Marridge Hill, running along the edge of the fields to the junction with Ramsbury #32, enclosed in the hedgeline. On the way up, keep an eye out for red kites above and hares below. R#32 is spectacular in early spring as it transforms into “Snowdrop Alley” (but is apparently too short to have earned an official name). It heads left to Preston or right to Balak Farm and Ramsbury #37 – an ancient byway and another old route to Lambourn. R#21 meanwhile continues north to Marridge Hill Cottage and the metalled road. If you’re starting from here and heading south, aim for the tree in the middle of the field – the stile into R#32 should then be directly ahead.
Alternatively you can head back to Ramsbury via Preston or Whittonditch (probably the safer option). Or strike out for Aldbourne, Baydon or Membury. If you’re feeling brave, you could take in Ramsbury #33 (“Gypsy Lane”) on the way home. A short hollow track linking Crowood Lane to the B4192, seasonal farmworkers would lay up their caravans here during harvest time. It’s a surprisingly atmospheric spot, and you’ll almost certainly have it to yourself.