Length: 87 miles/139 km
Start: Overton Hill
Finish: Ivinghoe Beacon
Grade: Easy to Moderate
From: £565 p.p.
Walking Holiday along the Ridgeway
The Ridgeway is Britain’s oldest ‘Road’, a route through the heart of England that has been in constant use for 5000 years. As you take to the route, you cannot help but feel the spirit of many ancient walkers who have covered this trail thousands of years before you.
The Ridgeway walk follows the chalk hills between Avebury in Wiltshire and Tring in Buckinghamshire, part of a busy Neolithic ‘highway’ that stretched across the country from Dorset to Norfolk.
The 85-mile (137km) Ridgeway National Trail begins at Overton Hill, near Avebury, and heads east on a long and particularly beautiful stretch of downland path along the North Wessex Downs, with wide, exhilarating views over the rolling countryside of Wiltshire.
Leaving the wilderness of the Wessex Downs, you descend into the broad civilised landscape of the Thames Valley, a mixture of ancient deciduous woodlands, rich farmland and well kept country villages. From Goring, you follow the riverside banks of the River Thames, and up into the chalky Chiltern Hills on a roller coaster walk of deciduous woodland and wide chalk downs along the Chiltern Ridge, to reach Ivinghoe Beacon at the end of the Ridgeway.
Within the few first steps of the walk you become aware that this is a significant ancient route. The remarkable Neolithic Avebury Stone Circle, which dates from 2800 BC, is more interesting and evocative than Stonehenge, and a designated World Heritage Site. You pass the markers of the Sanctuary, a stone circle and Waylands Smithy, an accessible chambered long barrow with a fascinating legend attached to it. Ascend Silbury Hill, an Iron Age hill-fort, and the largest man-made mound in Europe. Enjoy the commanding view from Liddington Hillfort, believed to be the site of the battle of Badonicas, where the historical Ancient British King Arthur defeated the invading Saxon army, around 500 AD.
The trail leads to Uffington White Horse, one of the most famous hill figures in the country, a huge 370ft long white horse chalk figure cut into the hill, dating from the Bronze Age.
Grim’s Ditch and vast hill forts including Barbury, Liddington, Uffington, Segsbuy, Pulpit Hill and Ivinghoe Beacon were all built during the Iron Age.
In the Dark Ages, The Ridgeway was the main route for the Saxons and Vikings during their advances into Wessex.
Many observers have noted the proximity of the Ridgeway with the rash of crop circles that have emerged in the countryside alongside the route. Will you notice some?
Our team would be delighted to talk to you about an itinerary for a walking holiday on The Ridgeway.
Celtic Trails has 20 years’ experience providing tailored, quality itineraries for walkers who appreciate good service, comfort and organisation.