Uffington White Horse: greeting the rising sun!

The Uffington White Horse

Most years I visit the Uffington White Horse to greet the rising sun on the summer solstice. This year I took my field recorder and made a podcast about my early morning encounters.

My journey began along the single-track road which passes underneath the chalk figure. The real destination was Dragon Hill; a conical mound sitting beneath the White Horse. My real hope was to capture the soundscape of the pagans saluting the sun and blowing their horn.

[Click here to listen to this instalment of the podcast!]

Wrap up before you visit the Uffington White Horse

View from Dragon Hill (Uffington) of the rising solstice sun

Even for England, June can be a warm month – at least during the day. Sunny weather can lure you into wearing the wrong clothes. The hill is bitterly cold during the twilight hours: there’s no sun, and a chilly breeze removes any warmth from your bare skin. So, I came dressed with long trousers, a fleece top, and a coat.

How to attract attention

View from Uffington castle.

Not only was I carrying a field recorder, I also was wearing headphones. One solstice-goer thought I was part of a film crew! She told me they come each year for the solstice and were going to sit on the hill along side the Uffington White Horse. Tomorrow, she shared with me, they would be in Portugal. Walking with podcasting gear seems to be the perfect way to break the ice!

About the Uffington White Horse

The ribs of the dragon surrounding the manger leading to the Uffington White Horse

Surprisingly, this chalk figure doesn’t really look like a horse – it’s more a stylistic version of some creature. Maybe it wasn’t supposed to be a horse; some say it’s a dragon, and some even say it’s a cat.

The steep chasm below the Uffington White Horse is called the Manger. I imagine the undulating embankment which surrounds the Manger are the ribs of a resting dragon – maybe Dragon Hill is the head of this creature? To reach the summit of this mound you take a set of steps, and waiting for you is a breathtaking view of the Vale of the White Horse.

Small grassland flowers on Dragon Hill (Uffington)

Sadly, no pagan-people came – maybe they thought (wrongly! ha!) the longest day was on the 21st June. Nonetheless, at Dragon Hill I had a chat with Mikhail (a fellow visitor), which you can listen to on this installment of The Beehive Yourself Show.

Furthermore, take a look at your feet when you visit – the grasslands around here are full of beautiful little flowers!

A book and website recommendation

I recommend Roger Higham’s book: ‘Berkshire and the Vale of the White Horse.’ This gives you a detailed overview of the Uffington White Horse and the nearby places of interest. During the podcast, I read a passage from this book.

If you are planning to visit the Uffington White Horse, check out the National Trust’s webpage.

I would love to know you thoughts, please leave a comment.

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