In recent years the name of the Chalke Valley has become synonymous with a truly magnificent History Festival, attracting people from across the country and abroad. The Festival itself is a huge attraction for Slow Travellers, but so too is the stunning Wiltshire valley in which it is set.
Here we take a look at the pretty villages of the Chalke Valley; their history, their scenery, their churches and all they have to offer. The Valley is a great area for walking and cycling – there are many footpaths with stunning views and the roads are mostly traffic-free. It is relatively unknown, has unspoilt countryside and is well worth a visit.
The history of the Chalke Valley
The River Chalke itself is a very short river, a tributary of the River Ebble. It rises at Mead End near Bowerchalke and flows just 1.2 miles to join the Ebble at Mount Sorrel, just upstream of Broad Chalke. It’s a typical chalk stream, noted particularly for its brown trout.
The Chalke Valley stretches from Salisbury to Shaftesbury and includes much of the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with many picturesque villages along both the Chalke and the Ebble. The Ebble rises at Alvediston, joins the Avon at Bodenham and is one of the Fiver Rivers that meet at Salisbury.
There have been archaeological finds of flint tools, pottery, bones and metal objects across the Valley, showing evidence of occupation from the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman period. There are also remains of earthworks, barrows and field systems – it is an area rich in early history.
An Anglo-Saxon charter names some of the villages and shows clearly that there were thriving communities here before the arrival of the Norman invaders. The Domesday Book in 1086 divided the Chalk