A hour away by trailer there is a lovely circular ride of a few hours duration. A highlight is the long, gentle climb up the grassy slopes of Smeathe's Ridge. This outlier to the chalk plateau north of Marlborough provides excellent riding. The trail is ideal for long stretches of fast work, and the views are expansive. It's one of the best public trails for many miles.
I captured the first photo near the bottom of the ridge. We had just watered the horses at a large round cattle trough. The day was hot, the horses thirsty, so Brena tried to climb into the water trough. She can be rather determined, however it really didn't seem like a good idea so I stopped her. I should find a river or pond for the mare to explore, without tack or me on her. I've owned a mare before that liked to get down and roll in streams, including the one that formed the boundary to her pasture.
Higher up the ridge opens up into a flat-topped expanse of turf. We'd cantered some distance before I took this photo, and our horses were hot and breathless after some competition between them. Of course they had needed no persuasion to head off at speed. It was a lot of fun to pound away, four abreast, up the fine turf. Hooves thundered, manes blew back over our hands. Brena is fast over a short distance, rather like a Quarter Horse, surprisingly so for a draught-cross. The others passed her after a couple of hundred yards. But, as you can see from the photo, she had stepped out into the lead by the top of the ridge.
The way back was slower and gentler. After a short, sharp descent from the ridge, the trail followed a shallow valley. We four riders were the only people here. Often the trails are like that. Away from the Ridgeway and its car parks, travellers are few.