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THIS STORY LAST UPDATED: 10 March 2004 1316 GMT
Time for some Plain walking
Rights of way signs
Public rights of way on Salisbury Plain
Despite the fact that much of Salisbury Plain's military training area remains out of bounds to the public, there is a surprising number of public footpaths allowing access to this unique landscape.
SEE ALSO

Imber Easter Weekend events

BBC News: 'Ghost village' remembered 60 years on

BBC History: Hunter of the Plain

WEB LINKS

Walks on MOD Lands

MOD Walks: Salisbury Plain

Access on the MOD Estate

Salisbury Plain: MOD Public Information Leaflet

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.
FACTS

There are over 300 scheduled archaeological monuments on Salisbury Plain.

Useful maps: OS Landranger Sheet 184 (Salisbury & The Plain)
OS Landranger Sheet 183 (Yeovil and Frome) OS Explorer Sheet 130 (Salisbury & Stonehenge) OS Explorer Sheet 143 (Warminster & Trowbridge)

Since 1897, the army has had a presence on Salisbury Plain and today owns nearly 40000 hectares (98000 acres) of land.

The training area measures 640 square kilometres (250 square miles), about one ninth of Wiltshire area a whole.

The landscape is described as being "of unparalleled importance in Northern Europe" and the Plain contains forty per cent of the remaining chalk grassland habitat in the UK - in fact, 20,000 hectares are designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

For information on live firing and access contact MOD Range Tel: 01980 674763.

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For those who venture onto Salisbury Plain, few are left unmoved by the expanse of wilderness that just seems to disappear into far blue yonder.

Salisbury Plain

However, most of us only get to see this landscape from a moving vehicle and with numerous warning signs and red flags, most feel the Plain is out of bounds - the idea of coming across unexploded ordinance enough to keep us in our cars and away from danger.

But surprisingly, the Plain is very accessible on foot, with designated public footpaths, particularly in the eastern section of the Training Area where rights of way remain open - even during military exercises.

Further west, the Imber Trail follows the edge of the Imber Firing Range Danger Area and is clearly marked with waymarkers, following established paths and trackways.

The 48km (30m) circular route, which takes the walker around the Imber Live Firing Range, affords some spectacular views across the Plain and beyond.

An MOD booklet describes the walk in more detail and is also available at its website.

Salisbury Plain  Range

Access to the 'ghost' village of Imber, now used for military training, remains restricted, but during Bank Holidays (including the Easter Holiday week) the road through the village is open to the public and the site becomes a popular place of pilgrimage for those keen to see the setting of this, the loneliest village in Wiltshire. (Click here for details of events during the Easter weekend)

For those who are prepared to check the maps, watch out for the waymarked routes and abide by the regulations, exploring the wilderness of Salisbury Plain brings some wonderful rewards.

Rare species of butterfly, including the Adonis Blue and Brown Hairstreak thrive in this habitat, while ten percent of the UK's Stone Curlew population can be found on Salisbury Plain.

Ancient burial mounds, tumuli, Iron Age hillforts, chalk carvings and battlefields are among the diverse historical sites to be discovered.

Salisbury Plain

Away from the chalk valleys, villages and towns, the Plain is a huge, open landscape, where the sky seems to compete for attention with vast swathes of grassland that stretch as far as the eye can see.

So, if you're looking for the big picture this summer, take a trip to Salisbury Plain - but don't forget to keep an eye on restrictions as you enjoy the view!

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