Saturday, 18 May 2013

A walk along the Ridgeway.

The Ridgeway is an ancient route running for 87 miles from near Avebury in Wiltshire to Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire. It is thought to have been in use for at least 5,000 years by drovers and travellers.

On the way, there are neolithic barrows, iron age hill forts, ancient villages and some excellent accommodation.

The stone circle, bank and ditch at Avebury is a World Heritage Site and is a fantastic place. A big chunk of the village, including our B&B, is inside the circle making it a truly mystical and magical place to stay.

Day 1 - Avebury to Ogbourne St George.

On a cool and very windy day, we encountered our first hill fort - Barbury Castle. Fortunately it kept dry until we reached Ogbourne.

Day 2 - Ogbourne St George to Woolstone

A well earned pint at the White Horse at Woolstone. Woolstone is underneath the ancient white horse and hill fort at Uffington.

On the way, we visited Wayland's Smithy - a huge long barrow. Legend has it that your horse will be re-shod for you if you leave it and a silver coin overnight.

Day 3 - Woolstone to Wantage

We walked up to the ancient Uffington white horse and through Uffington Castle to rejoin the Ridgeway. We went into Wantage via Letcombe Castle (yet another hill fort) and through the pretty village of Letcombe Regis.

The Regis Guest House at Wantage was outstanding.

Day 4 - Wantage to Goring

We passed the half way point today. At Goring the Ridgeway meets up briefly with the Thames Path and we crossed the Thames to stay at the John Barleycorn pub in Goring.

Day 5 - Goring to Watlington

The Ridgeway runs alongside the river Thames for the first part of this section. 

We encountered our first bluebell wood. The season is late this year. On previous years at this time, we've found the bluebells to be finished, blackthorn gone and hawthorn blossoming. This year the bluebells were in their full glory, the blackthorn was still in full swing and hawthorn blossom had not yet appeared.

Day 6 - Watlington to Cadsden

To begin with, this part of the walk was rather tedious, being mostly on wide, made up farm tracks. After a picnic lunch in a glorious meadow though, the Ridgeway went through fields and we were walking on grass once more.

The route took us over Coombe hill, past another group of barrows and tumuli and on to the Plough at Cadsden for our overnight accommodation.

Day 7 - Cadsden to Aldbury

The Ridgeway runs through the grounds of Chequers - the Prime Minister's official country residence. Other than a more than normally substantial fence, surveillance cameras and signs threatening serious trouble for deviating from the route, it's just another footpath crossing a country estate.

Day 8 - Aldbury to Ivinghoe Beacon (and back to Aldbury)

The final bit. It was cold and very windy - but mostly dry. A great sense of achievement - we walked a total of 107 miles (the Ridgeway mileage doesn't take into account the extra walking to reach accommodation each day).

Day 9 - back home. We caught the 09:15 bus in Aldbury to Tring Station and were back in MK by 10:30.

There are many more photos here

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