To the north of Devizes rise the rolling Marlborough Downs, chalky grassland in an area of outstanding natural beauty in the heart of Wiltshire's Vale of Pewsey. On top of "Oliver's Castle" on Roundway Down, people gather to fly gilders. This hill is over 250m above sea level, and a good spot to launch these wonderful, handmade planes into the air. I asked one of the men how he retrieved his glider when it came down to earth at the bottom of the hill. "It's radio controlled," he said, "I can make it land wherever I want." Oh dear, I felt a bit silly for asking! The photo above shows two of the lovely models, each with a little cockpit and complete with safety harness. The seats were empty, and I did wonder why they didn't place a little model pilot in the driving seats.
Up on "Oliver's Castle" looking towards Devizes, the man in the centre is controlling his glider, while two others watch. My friend C and her poodle "Pippin" watch the antics of another dog, who likes to chase the gliders. He can be seen bounding up the hill to the right, and having a whale of a time. The day was lovely, with warm sunshine and glorious blue skies, it was good to be alive.
"Roundway Down" is the site of an English Civil War battle of July 1643, and the site has many information boards, giving details of the action at particular places. The whole battlefield site can be walked, and it's possible to climb specially built platforms to give an elevated view of the battle's action. The "Cavaliers," lead by General Hopton won this particular battle, with the help of reinforcements from Oxford, lead by Prince Rupert. There is no evidence of Oliver Cromwell ever having been in Devizes, although this site is called "Oliver's Castle" and in the valley below, there's a pub called "The Oliver Cromwell," which sells beer brewed locally by "Wadworths" of Devizes. Cheers!