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Walking through water meadows — the Avon Valley Path

Pete Hurford (CC BY 2.0)

Walking through water meadows — the Avon Valley Path

Hiking Collection by Kit P

3-5

days

3-5 h

/ day

36.7 mi

1,000 ft

1,150 ft

Starting in the extraordinary cathedral city of Salisbury, the Avon Valley Path winds down through the kind of scenery you’re more likely to see in Impressionist paintings. Following the River Avon (or Salisbury Avon, thanks to England’s multitude of rivers by this name), this hike is exquisitely beautiful and passes through thriving river habitats.

The Salisbury area has been occupied since at least the iron age and evidence of previous settlements is everywhere, not least the nearby UNESCO World Heritage Site of Stonehenge. Starting the trail at Salisbury Cathedral with its breathtaking spire very much sets the scene for your adventure.

Growing up on the edge of the New Forest, many places along this trail are close to my heart, particularly the river itself. Hiking the trail takes you through water meadows where herons are just as easily spotted as other walkers. Kingfishers, great crested grebes and reed warblers all call this area home.

At around 34 miles (55 km) long and largely flat, this is an ideal path for a long weekend and is open to every ability. Due to its low-lying and rather watery nature though, sections can flood or become absurdly muddy during the winter months. As the birds, flowers and trees are most incredible during late spring and summer, I recommend hiking this route during these lighter months.

The Avon Valley Path travels through four well-served settlements; Salisbury, Fordingbridge, Ringwood and Christchurch, where the trail ends. I’ve broken up the path so that each Tour starts and ends in one of these, for ease of finding accommodation and food. However, if you want to walk it in 2 days or 4, you won’t struggle to find accommodation or a lovely country pub in the pretty, rural villages along the way.

While this walk is presented as starting in Salisbury and walking south to the English Channel at Christchurch, there’s nothing stopping you from walking it in reverse. Salisbury and Christchurch both have mainline train stations that go to London, however, they only link up with each other via Southampton. Nonetheless, it only takes around 1 ½ hours to travel between them by train making it simple to return to the start.

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Avon Valley Path

35.4 mi

1,000 ft

1,150 ft

Last updated: November 3, 2021

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Salisbury to Fordingbridge — the Avon Valley Path

    Difficult
    06:44
    15.9 mi
    2.4 mph
    750 ft
    800 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This first section of the Avon Valley Path starts in the grounds of the majestic Salisbury Cathedral which itself is surrounded by lawns and gorgeous historic buildings. Walking south, you’ll almost immediately cross the confluence of the rivers Nadder and Avon over two stone bridges.

    

    It doesn’t take

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:17
    10.5 mi
    2.4 mph
    175 ft
    200 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The River Avon shows off its width as it winds through Fordingbridge and this Tour follows its eastern banks through fields from the town centre. The trail meanders away from the Avon for a while, taking you on a pastoral tour of farm lanes and fields before sending you back across the river at Ibsley

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:13
    10.4 mi
    2.5 mph
    100 ft
    150 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This final stage of the Avon Valley Path begins in Ringwood which has plenty of shops and supermarkets in which to stock up with trail snacks. You’ll be out in the fields alongside the river within moments before walking through water meadows, more fields and through landscapes that seem to have barely

    by Kit P

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    3
  • Distance
    36.7 mi
  • Duration
    15:15 h
  • Elevation
    1,000 ft1,150 ft

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