"By the thirtieth year there was not one single open place, the hills only excepted, where a man could walk, unless he followed the tracks of wild creatures or cut himself a path."
Ridgeway - Rodens Down
Public DomainRidgeway - Rodens Down - Credit: National Trail

This vision of a wild England would have been familiar to the early inhabitants of this land. Only high places would have been passable with relative ease, as can be seen in the Ridgeway, the 'earliest road in Europe', a neolithic trackway stretching across Central England. It is now a popular long distance footpath.

The Ridgeway National Trail stretches 87 miles (139km) through ancient landscapes, over rolling, open downland to the west of the River Thames and through secluded valleys and woods in the Chilterns in the east, following the same route used since prehistoric times by travellers, herdsmen and soldiers.

Jeffries would have been familiar with it, living on its flanks at Coate. He would often walk stretches of it, his favourite haunt being Liddington Camp. After London features the White Horse of Uffington (p35), which the Ridgeway runs by.