THE best way to get to know a town is on foot, and ever since Secret Swindon author Angela Atkinson told me about the West Swindon Sculpture Tour, I've been intrigued to give it a try.

I wanted to explore this part of the town, and see the seven public works of art, commissioned by Thamesdown Borough Council, with funding from developers. The roots of Swindon's western expansion go back to the brave new world of the 1960s, and from the same impulse that saw the birth of the third generation new towns. While Milton Keynes had its concrete cows, Swindon had its own works of public art - and you can still see them today.

The sculptures were mapped out into a five-mile circular walk by Swindon resident Roger Ogle, and it starts at the Link Centre. The first sculpture is John Clinch's bronze statue of Diana Dors, on the Shaw Ridge leisure complex. It's probably the best known and most seen sculpture on the trail and I can't say it's one I much like. Poor Diana looks a bit wooden, and cartoonish - though perhaps that reflects her flamboyant image.

Heading out along a footpath through the rear of the leisure park, you walk through trees and emerge on the Shaw Ridge open space, a beautiful green park with trees all around and a view over the hills. The second sculpture is here - grandly named How the Mighty Fall, by Tim Sandys-Renton. Made in 1989, it's cast iron and supposed to suggest an archaeological artefact from the 20th century, asking the viewer to transport themselves to the future. Well I am from 30 years in the future, and I like this one. It's weathered well, the silver shines in the sunshine and it has a certain gravitas.

From here the path wends to a small green space off Shaw Road, and a large steel and concrete structure called White Horse Pacified, created by Julie Livsey. This was part of an international artists' exchange between Swindon and Lisbon, and is a response to Wiltshire's famous chalk horses. It's magnificent - tall and imposing, with a convincing horsiness. It seems a bit wasted tucked away behind some trees and an underpass - and in need of some repainting.

A bit of a walk then, under Tewkesbury Way, and along Tregoze Way, to Vega Bermejo's 1992 work Hey Diddle Diddle, a decidedly more domestic carving based in the nursery rhyme, like an oversized garden ornament. Then Nexus 1986 by Hideo Furuta, at the Freshbrook Village Centre (a large pile of shaped stones), the Watchers by Carleton Attwood, a rather sad and chipped-looking assembly of three figures and a dog, and finally, Jon Buck's 1985 creation in glass fibre resin, Looking to the Future.

These three sunbathing figures are sitting next to an overgrown, muddy, rubbish-strewn pond close to the Link Centre. They are sadly faded, and one poor chap has been completely covered by a fallen tree. They seem neglected and forgotten. Was this the future he was imagining, Jon Buck, 33 years ago? Perhaps it should be renamed, as the Triumph of Nature.

It's a long walk, and despite the condition of some of the sculptures, the route reveals just how green and attractive so much of west Swindon is. Connected by miles of footpaths and cycle paths, with lots of open spaces and play areas, the walk reveals the optimism and utopian ideals of the planners, trying to create a green and pleasant town for the 20th century.

Visit the website for a copy of the map and guide to the West Swindon Sculpture Tour.