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Discover ancient history on Britain's oldest trail — the Ridgeway

AppleTV.1488 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Discover ancient history on Britain's oldest trail — the Ridgeway

Hiking Collection by Kit P

6-13

days

3-6 h

/ day

91.1 mi

6,175 ft

5,975 ft

The Ridgeway follows Britain's oldest trail through an idyllic landscape of rolling hills, enchanted woodlands, prehistoric castles, stone circles, sleepy villages, and grasslands filled with some of the rarest wildflowers you'll see.

The ancient route starts from the World Heritage Site of Avebury and travels 87 miles (139 km) to finish on the iconic Ivinghoe Beacon, named after the huge fires that were once lit at the summit for navigation and communication.

The western part of the trail follows an ancient ridge track along the crest of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) which was used by prehistoric travellers, herdsmen and soldiers. This section passes some incredible Bronze Age hillforts, stone circles, and burial chambers, some of which are more than 3,000 years old.

The eastern part follows the River Thames for a short time before heading east into the Chiltern Hills AONB. The walking on this section is a delightfully-contrasting mix of open downland, farmland, grassland, and woodland. Along this section, you pass through some internationally-important nature reserves that are home to incredibly rare flora and fauna.

In this itinerary, I've split the Ridgeway into six stages. Of course, you can split up each stage into as many days as you are comfortable with. You can also walk any single stage, or a couple of stages, in isolation.

Every stage finishes close to accommodation, even if there are only a few options nearby. Places to stay are not always abundant so it's worth planning in advance and scheduling any rest days accordingly.

If you're planning to arrive by public transport, you can catch a train to Swindon railway station, which is served by direct trains from London and Bristol, and has connecting services around the country. From Swindon, you would need to catch the 49 bus service, which runs hourly buses to Avebury.

To get home, you can catch the 61 bus service from Ivinghoe to Aylesbury. The train station in Aylesbury has direct trains to London and has connecting services around the country.

As with all long distance hikes, arriving by car is not the most sensible option. However, if you do decide to, your best bet is to leave your car in Swindon, then catch the 49 bus to Avebury.

To get home, you would need to catch the 61 bus service from Ivinghoe to Aylesbury, then catch a train from Ayelsbury to London Marylebone, then jump on the tube from Marylebone to Paddington Station, then catch a train from Paddington back to Swindon.

The Ridgeway combines with three other long-distance footpaths — the Wessex Ridgeway, Icknield Way Path, and The Peddars Way — to form the Greater Ridgeway, an epic country-crossing hike from Lyme Regis, in Dorset, to Hunstanton, in Norfolk, that follows an ancient trade route developed long-before Roman occupation. If you would like to combine these routes, follow the links below.

For the Wessex Ridgeway hiking route, click here: komoot.com/collection/935252.
For the Icknield Way Path, click here: komoot.com/collection/954916.
For the Peddars Way, click here: komoot.com/collection/991.

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The Ridgeway

86.2 mi

5,775 ft

5,600 ft

Last updated: November 25, 2021

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Overton Hill to Ogbourne St George — the Ridgeway

    Difficult
    05:27
    12.7 mi
    2.3 mph
    675 ft
    725 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The Ridgeway starts from the World Heritage Site of Avebury and travels 87 miles (139 km) along Britain’s oldest road.

    

    Before you start this enchanting journey, it's worth taking some time to explore the amazing sites that are literally a stone's throw away from the beginning of the route—but are not

    by Kit P

    View
  • Difficult
    07:58
    18.5 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,275 ft
    975 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    Taking you through a landscape that's rich in beauty and history, this remote stage offers abundant tranquility and lots of interest.

    

    With more than 18 miles (29 km) of distance to contend with, this is the longest stage in the itinerary and will really test your mettle.

    

    From Ogbourne St George, you climb

    by Kit P

    View
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  • Difficult
    06:39
    15.7 mi
    2.4 mph
    500 ft
    1,050 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    Superb views northwards over the Thames Valley and southwards over serene downland fill this hike with wondrous beauty.

    

    From Letcombe Regis, you follow the road south out of the village to rejoin the trail at Gramp’s Hill, where you continue east.

    

    You arrive at Segsbury Camp a short time later; an Iron

    by Kit P

    View
  • Difficult
    06:40
    15.4 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,100 ft
    850 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This challenging stage will really test your fitness and endurance. As you hike alongside water, through sleepy villages, and into the stunning patchwork landscape, the pretty countryside, abundant history, and lovely views should be an excellent reward for your effort.

    

    From Streatley, you follow the

    by Kit P

    View
  • Difficult
    07:49
    17.5 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,650 ft
    1,675 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    With some tough climbs and a challenging 17.5 miles (28 km) of distance, this is the most strenuous stage you encounter on the Ridgeway.

    

    Your effort is rewarded with spellbinding panoramic views, wildlife-rich nature reserves, and remarkable beauty, though.

    

    From Watlington, the trail is relatively flat

    by Kit P

    View
  • Intermediate
    04:58
    11.3 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,025 ft
    725 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The final stage of the Ridgeway takes you through the enchanting wooded landscape of the Chiltern Hills.

    

    From Wendover, you follow the trail south and climb gradually into Barn Wood, and then through Hale Wood, Milesfield, Hengrove Wood, Northill Wood, Parvis Wood, and Bull’s Wood.

    

    In fact, between Wendover

    by Kit P

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    6
  • Distance
    91.1 mi
  • Duration
    39:32 h
  • Elevation
    6,175 ft5,975 ft

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