Things to Do in Wiltshire

The Ridgeway National Trail

The Ridgeway National Trail
4.5
About
One of thirteen National Trails in England, this 85-mile recreation route takes visitors through some of the most scenic landscape in the country which passes or crosses many important archaeological and wildlife sites along the way. 2023 is the 50th anniversary since The Ridgeway was designated a National Trail.
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Yorks-Rick-and-Sue
York, UK324 contributions
Jun 2021
We walked from Avebury to Ivinghoe Beacon in 8 days at the end of June. We enjoyed the varied scenery, the plentiful wildlife and the many archaeological sites. This was one of the best signposted national trails which we have seen. The Western and Eastern halves are quite different. In the West there are spectacular long distance views, when the hedges clear, but some long stretches walking along tracks between thick hedgerows. Some of the tracks are quite rutted but the local authorities are working to address this. The Eastern section is more varied. The occasional vistas are still there, like the astounding views from Coombe Hill, but there is more woodland, villages and a stretch along the banks of the Thames. We stayed in a variety of Inns and B&Bs which were mainly of a high standard. Our overnight luggage was transported by Move My Bags, who were excellent. One word of warning - we were several times hit by swarms of biting horse flies. This probably relates to the time of year and weather but they were particularly bad between Avebury and Overton Hill and in the stretch North of Goring. Over a most enjoyable holiday, which we would recommend.
Written July 14, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

CarolinaTrekkers
Greensboro NC591 contributions
May 2016 • Friends
A few months ago I got a copy of the Cicerone Guide to the Ridgeway (2013 ed., by Steve Davison), and found the trail intriguing ... not sure what to expect. Having recently completed the walk with two family members, I can say it surpassed expectations.

1. It is an interesting trail. In fact, it is diverse and seems like two trails: from Avebury to Streatley, it is largely open, along plateaus; from Streatley to the end, at Ivinghoe Beacon, there are more woods and shade, and elevation gain is clearly greater. Throughout the trail historic and prehistoric sights are apparent; it does not take much imagination to picture Bronze Age villages and battles.

2. Good lodging and pubs on or near the trail are relatively plentiful. During our six-day trek of the route, we stayed in hostels, B&B's, pubs, and even a stable, and almost all were on or within ten minutes of the trail. Favorites included the Hill Barn, YHA in Streatley, Fat Fox in Watlington, Red Lion in Wendover, Brownlow B&B in Ivanhoe Bridge, and Beckhampton B&B. There are excellent pubs and restaurants too, such as Red Lion in Avebury, Waggon and Horses in Beckhampton, Fat Fox in Watlington,The Star in Sparsholt, Hawdi in Ivinghoe, The Bull in Streatley, Bird in Hand in Princes Risborough, and Greyhound in Wigginton.

3. The trail offers options. We chose to do the route in six days, which means over 15 miles a day if you start in Avebury, which you certainly should do. Or, many apparently do day walks, or choose to walk fewer miles per day, allowing for visiting some of the interesting sights off the trail. Other walkers, and operators of pubs and lodgings, are unfailingly courteous and friendly, in our experience.

4. Not a lot of gear is required. A change of (wicking) clothes and socks, comfortable shoes, and rain gear will do it. We got by fine on a liter of water person.

5. Our stops were: Avebury, Osbourne St. George, Hill Barn (on the trail, above Sparsholt), Streatley, Watlington, Wendover, and Ivinghoe. Of course, these can be adapted to personal schedules.

6. The trail was not as busy with through hikers as we thought it might be. although day walkers were numerous near some of the towns.

7. While some hire transporters for extra luggage, we found that not to be necessary since a small pack can take everything you really need, and doing a wash and dry occasionally is easy. Similarly, the ordinance survey map in the Cicerone guide (plus commentary there) is all you need; the trail is unusually well marked, although no trail is perfect in this regard and occasional thought is required.

8. Bus/train service along the route, and at the ends, is generally good. There are a couple of places where you must walk along a busy road for a mile or so; that should be fixed, it seems to me.

All in all, a walk not to be missed. Cheers.
Written May 13, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Enkanear
Seattle, WA15 contributions
Sep 2019 • Solo
A delightful autumn walk on the Ridgeway National Trail

I walked the entire Ridgeway National Trail in England from Overton Hill near Avebury to Ivinghoe Beacon near Tring (87 miles, 140 km) over 7 ½ days in the autumn of 2019. I carried a 20 lb pack, wore MerrelI low-cut hiking boots, used one walking stick (mostly to fend off dogs), and carried the map pages from the Trailblazer guide. I was lucky, the weather was especially nice with only a couple of hours of rain. Overall, the Ridgeway is a great walk, especially the sections along the River Thames and Grim’s Ditch. The only negative is that motorcycles and automobiles are allowed on some sections of the western half of the Ridgeway, making for clouds of dust. The most helpful thing I can do for readers planning this long-distance walk is to recommend places to stay. The night before I started the walk, I stayed at Dorwyn B&B just outside Avebury. One of the best B&Bs I have experienced. Very well-run and the nice family gave me a ride to Overton Hill in the morning. After 16 km, I stayed at the Inn with a Well (really does have an ancient well under glass in the lobby) in Osbourne St. George. Good food, nice hosts, but right next to the busy A346. Another 14 km and I arrived at an exemplary B&B/hotel, the Royal Oak in Bishopston. The room in a new building was very comfortable, and the food (especially the pork) from their own farm was great. A nice walk of 16 km and I’m at the Greyhound Inn at Letcombe Regis. A bit of a long steep trek down off the ridge from Segsbury Camp into LR, but the reward is another friendly B&B/hotel. Great service, real ale and food, with offers of rides to and from the property by Christina. I met friends there and, thankfully, the next morning we drove up to the Ridgeway and walked together for a couple of hours. This was a full day of walking 24 km to the Streatley YHA property. Horizontal rain during the last hour got me soaked, so I took refuge at a golf course club house, where a gentleman bought me a beer. The hostel is basic, inexpensive, clean and close to the shops of Goring-on-Thames. A wonderful, level, scenic walk of another 24 km brought me to Watlington. My choice of an Airbnb unit here was not satisfactory, so you are on your own. This disappointment was more than made up for after an 18 km walk to the Ridgeway Lodge right on the trail and just shy of Princes Risborough. This is a fabulous property with great rooms (ask for the upstairs room), views, and a comfortable, separate high-tech common space for guests which includes cooking facilities. The incredibly hospitable hosts that provided tea and cake upon arrival and a full English breakfast are also willing to drive you to the M&S shop in PR for dinner supplies. I can’t praise the Ridgeway Lodge enough. I want to stay there again as soon as I can. Now, here is how you set up the final and steepest day without a pack using a two-night stay. From PR I walked 20 km to Wiggington, was picked up by my nice Airbnb hosts (‘Aldbury room with a view’), driven to the local M&S for supplies, enjoyed a clean quiet room and nice breakfast, was driven back to Wiggington in the morning without pack, and finished the last somewhat challenging 10 km atop Ivinghoe Beacon. I walked back to Tring station and was picked up again by my helpful hosts. I then enjoyed a jovial dinner with them, another fine breakfast, and was driven back to Tring station for a mid-morning train to London. This walk was done in style, thanks to the gracious English people! What a great adventure. Highly recommended. This is my 8th long-distance walk in Europe. I’m 71 years old. If I can do it, you can do it.
Written December 28, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Thank you for taking the time to share your Ridgeway experience over the summer, we love to hear from our walkers. Your detailed feedback on the accommodation (and what a range), is very helpful as we are constantly asked for information that best fits with individual needs and requirements. We will certainly share that with future walkers. With thanks and best wishes Mary
Written January 5, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

mintmoocher
Cardiff, UK424 contributions
Dec 2012 • Friends
We have had three trips to Wiltshire and have now alked the entire Wiltshire ( southern) section of the Ridgeway natinal trail. All of the days we have walked have been in December or Januray howeve the trail has never been watelogged or boogy. The places of historical or pre-historic interest along this short section are wionderful, from Silbury hill and Avebury to the Whitehorse and hill fort at Uffington this is a perfect peice of rural England where you can have views, space, calm and tranquility. we stayed in Marlborough and found connecting bus services were very good but needed some working out.
Written December 10, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

BackinBracknell
Bracknell, UK1,502 contributions
Aug 2018 • Friends
There are some excellent ancient sites along the track which make great focal points for day walks including Avebury, Waylands Smithy and the White Horse at Uffington (though it's not possible to see the horse properly from ground level).

Personally I wouldn't recommend walking the whole length of it though. It's not the most exciting trail as a lot of it is flat with fields and sometimes wide open views but no real points of interest along the way. Other sections go between hedges with little to see. Can also be hard going underfoot as parts of the track have been badly churned up by motorbikes and 4x4 vehicles. There's very little shelter so in bad weather or winter conditions it's not at all pleasant!
Written September 11, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

alex
London49 contributions
Sep 2015 • Solo
I hiked The Ridgeway in an Easterly direction (Overton Hill to Ivinghoe Beacon) in 5 days, covering between 15 and 20 miles per day with my pack (I camped along the route).

It's very well signed so navigation is easy - but still bring a map, I recommend the waterproof all in 1 ridgeway map available from information centres near the route or online. The only part I got lost on was as I left Barbury castle, I didn't see any signs for the Ridgeway so I kept walking straight. About an hour later I discovered I had taken a byway to the South instead of the Ridgeway to the East, and had to cover an extra couple of miles to get back on track!

The terrain is fairly easy because you stay on the ridge so there is not much hill climbing needed. The eatsern section from Princes Risborough to Ivinghoe is the hilliest part with some steep ascents (but nothing on the mountains of Scotland or Wales :)

Amenities are scarcer in the Western section up until Streatley - so plan ahead where you will get food and water - and if possible phone ahead to any pubs as they could have closed down since your map was printed.

Please do fill your water containers at every opportunity - I ran out of water twice even though I was carrying 2.5L. There are some taps along the route but 1 of them wasn't working. I went 1mile off route to a village pub but it had shut down! Being on the ridge there are no rivers or streams. Luckily I had a lifestraw so was able to use that to drink from rainwater puddles!

From Streatley/Goring there are numerous pubs and shops on the route.
Written September 27, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

lesbronx
Cleveland, Ohio24 contributions
May 2014 • Friends
We walked Avebury to Streatley-Goring. No doubt the views are beautiful and the towns along the way are interesting but the high point of any walk on the Ridgeway has to be the stones of Avebury, great stone formations that dwarf Stonehenge. We hired Ridgeway Walks (www.Ridgewaywalks.com) to arrange our lodging along the way and to deliver our bags to our next overnight stop. The owner of Ridgeway Walks is Matt Gleave, an archaeologist and outdoorsman with an intimate knowledge of the stone formations and other pre-historic features of the area. It is one thing to marvel at the stones and wonder how they got there. Matt can tell you of the many theories of how they got there and why they were put there. He can give you his own educated theories. He can tell you who put the stones there and what their tools were. He can show you local burial "barrows" that you won't see in your guide books. He can show you how to use moles to help locate artifacts. If you're going to go all the way to Avebury to see the great stones, spend a bit more to get the most out of the experience. I am not shilling for Matt. I never met him until I arrived in Avebury. So far as the walk itself, we went in May and got rained on almost every day. The rain turned many parts of the trail into a quagmire that in some places tried to suck your boots off your feet. The Ridgeway would have been a better experience in better weather. How can you be sure of that?
Written May 31, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

SCM_Tearle
Lechlade, UK125 contributions
Mar 2014 • Solo
One day I will walk the full length of the Ridgeway (like my friend and his twin did, to celebrate their 40th birthdays - inspiring!).

For now I am happy to share my experiences of the Chiltern Ridge section which stretches across the south-ish of Buckinghamshire. This yomping walk takes in the famous 'cut' where the M40 carves through the chalk - and where the opening sequences for 'The Vicar of Dibley' were filmed - to the southwest, and Wendover woods to the northeast. Ivinghoe Beacon, the true end, is yet another mission! I have walked this path many times, sometimes repeating the same part, either to walk my dogs or just gulp some fresh air after an often frustrating day in the 'big smoke.' Keeping a pair or walking shoes in the car and going straight from the train station to the Ridgeway at Chinnor becomes a good summer evening pastime!

Starting nearest to Aston Rowant nature reserve, the trail runs along rolling countryside and past the point to point course at Kingston Blount. Beech hangars are interspersed by sections of open downland with beautiful wild flowers, juniper bushes and grazing stock. Approaching Chinnor, you will find amazing azure lakes created by cement quarrying of not-that-long-ago-yore. The steam railway starts from here; the loco and carriages trundling along is a brilliant spectacle from above on a sunny day.

Various paths lead up to the ridge summit. The views from the top, closest to Chinnor and Princes Risborough, are truly fantastic with a far-reaching vista taking in a massive section of the Thames Valley, with Wittenham Clumps, Didcot Power Station, Otmoor, Oxford and even the Cotswolds 'massif' visible. Houses along the way make for interesting occasional encounters with people; the thoughtful residents of one cabin in the woods leave milk containers filled with water and bowls at the end of their driveway for thirsty dogs.

A favourite pub is the Three Lions at Bledlow, which serves proper food and beer and doesn't think twice about your brace of spaniels under the table. An hour or so further along is the community-owned Russell Arms at Ellesborough, close to Chequers, where David Cameron famously left one of his children behind. The path at this stage, heading towards Wendover, is steep in places with spectacular views from Coombe Hill of the Vale of Aylesbury and Hertfordshire.

Car parks and easy places to join the trail exist at numerous points. Signposting/waymarking is very clear and precludes the need for a plastic, neck-worn map holder. You know who you are. Take water, appropriate clothing, your phone and some hankies. Whilst a truly 'circular' walk is not possible as the Ridgeway is an ancient drovers' trail (ie they wanted to get places, not go in circles!), plenty of adjuncts are available, taking in OS-marked footpaths or the Icknield Way. There is no reason why children should not be able to walk decent stretches of the path. Oldies might need some shunting or incentivising. A good leaflet/map to download and print is available from www.nationaltrail.co.uk (or, curiously, www.nationaltrails.gov.uk - not sure of the difference).
Written May 7, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Nick A
Marlborough, UK253 contributions
Jan 2015 • Family
Having walked, cycled,horse ridden and occassionaly driven at different times of the year all of the Ridgeway between West Kennet (A4) and Streatley(A329), I still love the views, the heritage and the occasional remoteness, BUT I am also saddened by the lack of respect by a small minority for this national trail. Although some parts are hard stoned, many miles are not and even though it's clearly signed as "1st May to 30th Sept there are still morons who ignore this and insist on churning up the tracks on motorbikes and 4 x 4's.
That said, the route is well signed, breathtakingly beautiful and worth visiting just to see some of the fantastic sites like Uffington, Waylands Smithy etc.
But more needs to be done to protect this trail for future generations
Written January 2, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Frances I
West Yorkshire58 contributions
May 2014 • Couples
We walked half the Ridgeway path and while it was an achievement for us, I can't say I recommend it greatly as a walk. The weather was very mixed 3 days of soaking drizzle and 2 of blue skies and sun. Generally it's a pretty monotonous but easy going walk. Few ascents, so its easy on the knees, but endless bridleways between hedgerows on the one hand and extensively farmed fields on the other. Occasionally there are stunning views over an escarpment or towards a hillfort. Barbury Castle and Waylands Smithy (a 5 star sight) were both well worth the detours, but when you've seen one iron age hillfort.... The rolling grassy downs near Ogbourne St George were also a delight. If it's raining there's no view, no reward except mileage and little shelter in the early miles of this stretch. We spent our days keeping an eye out for wildlife and were very happy to see the expected hares, fox, rabbits etc and also the corn buntings, whitethroat, yellowhammer, linnets, wheatear, red kite and buzzard, to name but a few. The white horse area is one of the best, most dramatic parts. We camped at Britchcombe farm and shuttled with 2 cars to achieve the transportation. It worked.. We also spent half a day around Avebury - and that was totally mesmerising.
Written May 30, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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