If you are in Wiltshire to visit the famous Avebury Stone Circles it’s definitely worth sorting out some affordable car hire and heading for each of the eight white horses cut into the chalk downs, taking in much of the centre of the county during the drive.
From Avebury, head south-west on the A4361 and turn onto the west bound A4. After 3.5 miles the Cherhill white horse should be clearly seen from the road, though you can turn off right into the village.
The horse was cut in 1780 for Dr Christopher Alsop, an eccentric from Calne. Above the horse, atop the down is the Lansdowne Monument built at the summit of the highest point between London and Bristol.
Now head back along the A4 and turn left to head north on the A4361 and then just past Winterbourne Bassett turn left towards Broad Town. The horse can be seen well from the village and there are footpaths leading to it. Accounts of the origin of this 86 x 61ft horse are varied. It was either cut in 1864 by the owner of the land at the time, William Simmonds, or was scoured by him, having already been cut some fifty years earlier.
From Broad Town head back through Broad Hinton to the A4361 and turn left towards Wroughton. At the roundabout in Wroughton take the 2nd exit onto the A4005 southbound. Hackpen Hill is about 4 miles away. The horse is 90 x 90ft and was cut to commemorate the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1838.
From Hackpen head south towards Marlborough then take the A345 toward Pewsey. The Marlborough White Horse is on Granham Hill after about half a mile. Smaller than the first two seen here, this beast measures 61 x 47ft and was pegged out and designed by William Canning of Ogbourne St George in 1804.
Continue down the A345 and then just past Pewsey turn off into Green Drive then right onto Eversleigh Road. About a mile down this road you will see the Pewsey White Horse on the left. This was cut in 1937 to celebrate the coronation of George VI. It was designed by George Marples and cut by local fire fighters, replacing an earlier horse from 1785.
Head back to Pewsey on the A345 and then take the Wilcot Road west, at Wilcot take the Alton Road towards Alton Barnes where you will find the large 180 x 165ft horse paid for by local land owner Robert Pile in 1812 to give his village the same status as nearby Cherhill.
Now head west through Stanton St Bernard and Horton until you reach the A361 at Northfields and go south towards Devizes then turn right towards Roundway Hill where the New Devizes White Horse was cut in 1999 for the millennium. Designed by Peter Greed it replaced the original Snobs Horse, so called for the local dialect for the shoemakers who cut it in 1845.
The most southerly horse in the county is the Westbury and is also the oldest. It lies some 15 miles south west of Devizes on Bratton Down cut in 1778. It is 180 x 107ft and is best seen from the B3098 close to Bratton castle.
Linda is a freelance writer and bookseller who, following 19 years in IT for a large airline, loves to write about the places she has visited. She also adores her other job as a bookseller in a local bookstore.