Avebury to Ivinghoe Beacon in 8 Days Walking Code: RG9
We offer 4 itineraries walking the whole route. The 6 and 7 day walks start with a lengthy 17 mile day. There are further 17 mile days at the end of the 6 day walk while the 7 day option has a more gentle finish. Our 8 and 9 day walks start with easier 9 mile days. The 9 day option has the most gentle finish with the final 3 days all being under 10 miles.
This 8 day itinerary starts off with a gentle 9 mile day and even has a leisurely 6 mile day ahead of 2 challenging 15 mile days. The 6 mile day affords you plenty of time to explore the much anticipated Uffington Castle and White Horse as well as Dragon Hill. We don’t have accommodation in Watlington therefore you will spend 2 nights in Goring. Similarly we don’t have accommodation in Princes Risborough, so we will transfer you to nearby Wendover for the evening. The final leg of the walk is from Aldbury out to Ivinghoe Beacon and back.
|Day 1||Travel to Avebury for your first nights accommodation|
|Day 2||Avebury to Ogbourne St George||9||14|
|Day 3||Ogbourne St George to Woolstone||12||19|
|Day 4||Woolstone to Letcombe Regis||6||10|
|Day 5||Letcombe Regis to Goring||15||24|
|Day 6||Goring to Watlington then transfer back to Goring||15||24|
|Day 7||Transfer back to Watlington, walk to Princes Risborough then transfer to Wendover||11||18|
|Day 8||Transfer back to Princes Risborough then walk to Aldbury||15||24|
|Day 9||Aldbury to Ivinghoe Beacon and back to Aldbury||8||13|
|Day 10||Depart from Aldbury after breakfast|
The official start of the Ridgeway is at Overton Hill just off the A4 between Beckhampton and Marlborough. It’s often described as an uninspiring start point. Unless you are determined to walk every step of the trail, we suggest you set off from Avebury and follow the Herepath on the Wessex Ridgeway, crossing Avebury down and meeting up with the Ridgeway about a mile and a half into the trail by the gate to Fyfield Down National Nature Reserve. Alternatively, should you wish to, there are a number of ways to reach Overton Hill. One being a fairly straightforward walk over Avebury Down which will add around two miles to your day. Another is to detour and explore Silbury Hill, West Kennet Long Barrow and The Sanctuary before reaching Overton Hill. This will add a touch over three miles to your day.
Avebury to Bishopstone
Heading north on the Ridgeway there are numerous interesting sites to see including many tumuli. These ancient burial mounds date back around 4000 years.
If you’re happy to break from the trail for a short time near Hackpen Hill, then cut into the chalk of the hillside you’ll see Hackpen White Horse. This stretch of the Ridgeway is also part of the White Horse Trail, a 90 mile circuit visiting each of the white horses in Wiltshire.
Turning for Ogbourne St George the trail cuts directly through the impressive 11-acre Iron Age Fort of Barbury Castle before joining Smeathe’s Ridge. This is a glorious stretch of trail, walking on soft grass and enjoying stunning views. Unless Ogbourne St George is your destination for the evening you’ll skirt round, passing through the delightful village of Hallam with its collection of charming cottages.
Beyond Ogbourne St George the trail heads north, first over Round Hill Downs, and then Liddington Hill the site of another castle fort. There are a number of earthworks, tumuli and long barrows along this stretch of the trail.
Bypassing Liddington it’s only a short while before you reach Ridgeway Farm, the natural point to break off the trail for Bishopstone.
Bishopstone to Letcombe Regis
The Ridgeway continues on a good, level, tree-lined track. Progress can be measured by looking down to your left from the ridge, first to see is the hamlet of Idestone, followed by the delightful village of Ashbury then the wonderfully named Compton Beauchamp.
With eyes fixed on the trail ahead you’ll come to Wayland’s Smithy, an Early Neolithic chambered long barrow. Descriptions range from atmospheric to eerie, depending on how much morning mist is still lingering.
A little further on and you reach a host of fascinating sites, most notably Uffington Castle and White Horse. Uffington Castle Iron Age hill fort is considerably smaller than the previously visited Barbury Castle, however it is no less impressive and the views from here are simply stunning. To the north of the castle, on the side of the hill, is Uffington White Horse, said to be the inspiration for the others that followed. Also in this area is The Manager, a spectacular coombe lined with terraces, as well as the immaculately formed, flat-topped Dragon Hill, where St George fought and slew the dragon!
Those spending the evening in the Woolstone or Uffington will enjoy the walk downhill into the villages. The walk back uphill in the morning, less so!
Continuing on the trail your route takes you over Rams Hill and Sparsholt Down before reaching Folly Clump where the valley falls away steeply rewarding you with excellent views of the Devil’s Punchbowl.
Soon after, at Segsbury Farm, you can break from the trail and head over Castle Hill into Letcombe Regis.
Letcombe Regis to Goring
The first point of interest on this section of the trail is the Baron Wantage Monument. An impressive structure comprising a marble column with a cross on top, set upon a large square base with steps on all sides. The monument is in memory of Baron Wantage, a distinguished soldier, awarded the Victoria Cross in the Crimean War and one of the founders of the British Red Cross.
Moving on the walking is easy on broad grassy tracks. The trail is paralleled by horse gallops, but you’d need to be up and about very early to catch them on the morning ride out.
The trail continues over Bury Down above West and East Ilsley, passing through a tunnel beneath the busy A34. Once through the tunnel look out for the stone memorial to Hugh Frederick Grosveror, a 2nd lieutenant in the Lifeguards, who at just 19 years old, was sadly killed here in an armoured vehicle accident in 1947.
Yet more idyllic, easy walking, tree-lined at times, as you make your way to Streatley Warren. Look out for red kites here. On reaching the pretty named, Post Box Cottage, your surroundings begin to change as you wave goodbye to the wide and windswept grassy expanse that has become commonplace, and you enter the urban environment of the villages of Streatley and its larger neighbour, Goring.
A double-span bridge links the villages of Streatley and Goring and provides wonderful views of Goring Lock and the River Thames. Both the Ridgeway and the Thames Path share the bridge!
Goring to Watlington
Leaving Goring the Ridgeway follows the River Thames, sharing the Swan’s Way as far as the delightful village of South Stoke. Shortly after the trail passes beneath the impressive Moulsford Railway Bridge and continues north to just short of Wallingford.
Here the Ridgeway turns 90 degrees and follows the line of the near-straight Grim’s Ditch to Nuffield. Much of this stretch is shaded by trees.
Leaving Nuffield you reach Huntercombe Golf Course and it’s here, rather than skirting round the course, you will actually be guided through by means of carefully placed wooden posts. Do keep an eye on the golfers!
The Ridgeway now enters the grounds of the picturesque Ewelme Park where the trail passes through charming woodland and by some attractive buildings including the Gardener’s Cottage, the Old Rectory and St Botolph’s Church.
On reaching the turning for Watlington, if you have the energy, consider a short detour up onto Watlington Hill. You’ll be rewarded with stunning views and it’s an especially good spot for watching red kites. On the hill, cut into the chalk, is an 82m obelisk. The work of Edward Horne in 1764, who apparently felt the parish church would be more impressive if it appeared to have a spire when viewed from his house.
Watlington to Wendover
The walking here is easy as the Ridgeway makes its way north-eastwards beneath the Chilterns. Very soon the trail crosses over the Oxfordshire Way, a 65 mile route from Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds to the River Thames at Henley.
The tree shaded trail gives way to a wide grassy track between hedges with views over to Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve to the right. The Ridgeway passes beneath the M40 emerging alongside the northern half of the nature reserve. The reserve is home to a wide variety of orchids and many species of butterfly.
Continuing on you are rewarded with fine views of the wooded Chiltern scarp. As the Ridgeway runs parallel with the town of Chinnor the trail passes between the old chalk pits, quarried for the now closed cement works. Oakley Hill Nature Reserve can be accessed here. Again, a great place to spot butterflies and rare flowers. Beyond the chalk pits the trail then hugs the wooded slopes of Chinnor Hill. This is lovely stretch of the trail, passing through yet another nature reserve.
Passing by Princes Risborough the trail then crosses Whiteleaf Hill and Coombe Hill on its way to Wendover. Between the two hills the trail passes Chequers, the prime Minister’s country residence. Both hills feature lovely woodland with acorn guideposts to lead you through. Whiteleaf Hill is home to a nature reserve and on Coombe Hill stands a monument commemorating the men from Buckinghamshire who lost their lives in the Boer War.
Wendover to Aldbury
The first point of interest on this section is the 14th century, St Mary the Virgin church. It was used as a camp for a time by Cromwell’s troops during the English Civil War.
Two woodlands dominate the early part of this section of the Ridgeway. Firstly Barn Wood followed by the Forestry Commission’s Hale Wood. The walking here is delightful with the trail surrounded by mature woodlands which are home to a carpet of bluebells in spring.
The trail continues through the tiny hamlet of Hastoe and into Tring Park where there’s the opportunity to spot plenty of wildlife including fallow deer.
Beyond Tring the trail crosses the Grand Union Canal, a 138 mile route linking the Midlands with London, and heads through Aldbury Nowers Nature Reserve. Home to over 30 species, it’s one of the main butterfly habitats in the UK.
The Beacon finally comes properly into view as you cross Pitstone Hill. From here the trail leads you though woodland at Steps Hill before a final climb onto Ivinghoe Beacon.
To reach Aldbury, you can either retrace your steps towards Tring, breaking off for Aldbury just ahead of Tring Station, or if you prefer, and providing you are confident route finding, you could make use of the Icknield Way to guide you towards Aldbury.
Easy to Moderate
The Ridgeway is a relatively easy National Trail which is clearly way-marked along its length. As a note of caution, the North Wessex Downs can leave you a little exposed to the elements, both hot and cold, but adequately prepared, the trail can be completed by anyone with a reasonable level of fitness.
Terrain: Two prominent hill ranges, the North Wessex Downs and the Chiltern Hills, separated by Goring Gap and the River Thames.
What’s it like underfoot? Much of the trail, particularly the western section over the North Wessex Downs is on a mixture of wide, soft grasslands and chalky tracks. In dry weather this makes for easy and enjoyable walking. To the east of Goring in the Chilterns there is a real mixture of woodland, farmland and country tracks, which is a little rougher underfoot, but never troublesome. Naturally things can get a bit muddy in wet weather.
How Much Up & Down? There will be a couple of steep climbs each day, but really nothing too demanding. On a number of days you will need to descend from the trail to your overnight accommodation. Inevitably, you will need to regain the height the following morning. Once you are on the Downs the trail is undulating rather than hilly.
Signposting: Very good. There are regular ‘Ridgeway’ signposts, particularly at junctions, showing the direction of the trail. These are usually also marked with the National Trail acorn symbol. At times there will simply be waymarkers displaying the yellow acorn. Occasionally, other paths may be indicated on the waymarkers, however you’ll stay on track if you simply ‘follow the acorn’.
Navigation: Really straightforward. As a National Trail, the Ridgeway is very well signposted. The map and guidebook are incredibly detailed and the trail itself follows well defined tracks and paths over both the North Wessex Downs and the Chiltern Hills. Although the trail does pass through some of your overnight stops, on a number of days you will need to leave the trail and make your way along lanes and minor roads to your accommodation. These routes will be detailed in your holiday pack and easy to follow on your map.
Weather: You may be lucky enough to encounter warm, dry weather over the whole route and enjoy dry paths and tremendous views, but you must be prepared because the weather can change quickly. Good clothing, comfortable footwear and reliable waterproofs are essential. It is important you carry plenty of water on warm days. There are long sections on the downs where there is little shade. Pack your floppy hat and sun cream also!
|Accommodation||Overnight Bed and Breakfast accommodation in selected hotels, farmhouses, village inns, guest houses and family B&Bs. Full English or Continental breakfast.|
|Guidebook||A detailed guidebook with route information, maps, photos and background information.|
|Information of Services Along the Route||A comprehensive Service Info sheet, including services such as cash points, banks, post offices, village shops, inns, cafes and taxis.|
|Maps||A waterproof 1:40000 Harvey Map covering the whole route.|
|Personal Itinerary||A personal itinerary setting out each overnight stop, including large scale maps of each accommodation, to ensure you find it easily.|
|Emergency Telephone Support||If you get in to difficulties during your holiday, we are always available to help, even out of office hours.|
|12.5% discount at Cotswold Outdoors||We will issue you with a 12.5% Discount Card valid at all Cotswold Outdoor stores, and online, for the whole year on confirmation of your booking.|
|Luggage Transport||We will transfer your luggage between each overnight stop – if you leave your luggage at the accommodation when you set off in the morning, it will be moved on to your next B&B. You only need to carry a small day sack with the clothes and provisions you require during the day’s walk.|
| Packed Lunches
||Provided for each day’s walking and recommended on this holiday as there will not always be a handy shop or cafe on the route.|
|Off Road Parking||If you are travelling by car we can usually arrange off road parking for the duration of your trip. (There may be a small charge for this).|
|Arrangement of return transport||We can also arrange your transfer back to your car, (or advise you when public transport is a better option)!|
What’s not Included
|Evening Meals||Your evening meal isn’t included in the package, but we include full details and recommendations for each evening meal in your itinerary. You will normally be within walking distance of a pub and/or restaurant, or where there is good food available at the accommodation, we’ll book that for you. Allow about £20.00 per night.|
|Transport to the Start & Away from the Finish||Have a look at the “Travel Info” tab above for suggestions. If you’re still struggling, get in touch and we’ll help you sort it out.|
|Travel Insurance||Even if you are based in the UK travel insurance is worth having.|
Good accommodation and friendly hosts are an essential part of any holiday. We understand this and go out of our way to find the best. We put a great deal of effort into hand picking our accommodation and matching it to individual customer requirements. As well as visiting the accommodation ourselves, we ask all our customers to complete a short evaluation on each night’s accommodation, which then gives us an insight into the day-to-day operation and lets us spot any potential issues before they become a problem.
We use a variety of accommodation. Over the course of your trip you might stay in a village inn, a bed and breakfast in a converted barn, a Victorian guest house, or on a working farm. In selecting the accommodation we look for helpful, friendly hosts with good quality, characterful accommodation close to the trail. Due to the nature of this route following an escarpment you will on a number of days need to walk one or two miles, much of it along unpaved minor roads, to get to your overnight accommodation.
We always try to arrange en suite accommodation, i.e. rooms with their own bathrooms for each night of your stay. However, in some of the locations on the Ridgeway this is not always possible, and occasionally we may have to book rooms with a private bathroom, or a shared bathroom if you are travelling as a group, but we will always let you know if this is likely to be the case.
We are happy to book single rooms on our holidays but cannot normally book more than 2 for any one group. Single room bookings include a supplement.
Here are some examples of the accommodation we use on the Ridgeway:
Helen Browning’s Royal Oak in Bishopstone is a gently eccentric English pub and rooms set within 1500 acres of their own spectacular organic farmland which is home to 2000 head of free ranging livestock. They have a large garden, decks and stunning private picnic and lounging spaces spread between their hedges, old buildings and ponds. Visit their website
Located in the beautiful downland village of Letcombe Regis is the delightful Quince Cottage, a large thatched house, dating from the 17th Century. Louise offers you a warm welcome and with 30 years’ experience she knows exactly what her guests want. Delicious Aga cooked breakfasts for hungry walkers are the norm here! Visit their website
The Greyhound Inn is a charming traditional country pub in the picturesque village of Aldbury. The pub has a traditional feel with extensive dining areas, as well as a lovely outside terrace for those warm summer evenings. The perfect place to relax and unwind having completed the Ridgeway. Visit their website
General travel information for The Ridgeway Way will be in your holiday pack.
Detailed instructions on getting to your first night’s accommodation by car, or on foot from the nearest train or bus station, will also be included in the holiday pack on individual accommodation maps.
We recommend using public transport to get to and from The Ridgeway. Long stay parking is limited and transferring between Avebury and Aldbury is very time consuming.
Getting to Avebury:
By Air: The most convenient International Airports for the trail are Bristol, Birmingham or London (both Heathrow and Gatwick). There is a railway station at Birmingham Airport with frequent services to Swindon station changing at Reading. Both Heathrow and Gatwick airports have rail links to London Paddington Station from where you can catch a train direct to Swindon.
If travelling via Bristol Airport, shuttlebuses run frequently to and from Bristol Temple Meads railway station from where you can catch a train direct to Swindon.
By Public Transport: The most convenient railway station for Avebury is Swindon. Swindon Station is located on the Great Western Mainline with frequent services to London Paddington, Didcot Parkway and Bristol Temple Meads.
Stagecoach West bus service 49 runs hourly (every 2 hours on Sundays) between Swindon Bus Station and the Red Lion in Avebury (journey time approx. 40 mins).
By Road: Avebury is located on the A4361 between Swindon and Beckhampton and just off the A4 between Marlborough and Calne.
From the M4, exit at Junction 16 and follow signs for Wroughton B4005. Just after passing the Studley Grange Garden Centre & Butterfly Farm, leave the B4005 and continue straight on towards Salthrop until you reach the crossroads with the A4361. Turn right towards Devizes to arrive in Avebury.
Returning from Aldbury:
By Public Transport: The nearest railway station to Aldbury is Tring. Tring Railway Station is located on the West Coast Main Line with fast and frequent trains between Glasgow and London Euston.
The station is a 20 minute walk from the centre of Aldbury village or the Red Rose 387 bus service runs between Aldbury and Tring Station Monday to Saturday. On Sundays, you may wish to take a taxi.
By Road: Aldbury is located between the A4251 and B4506, just off the A41 at Tring.
From the South & East (M1), exit the M1 at Junction 8 then follow the A414 through Hemel Hempstead. Continue on the A414 to meet the A41 then follow signs for Aylesbury. Exit the A41 following signs for B4635 Tring and Aldbury.
From the North & West (M40), exit the M40 at Junction 9 then follow signs for the A41 Bicester then Aylesbury. Stay on the A41 as it passes through Aylesbury and onwards to Tring. Follow signs for B4635 Tring and Aldbury.
Unless you can be assured of arriving early on the day prior to setting off on your Ridgeway walk, then we’d suggest you consider adding an additional day in Avebury. The Unique landscape in and around Avebury forms part of the UNESCO Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site and is worthy of proper exploration.
Avebury is one of the most renowned prehistoric sites in Britain and is home to the largest megalithic stone circle in the world. Within short walking distance are a host of other intriguing monuments including the ditches on Windmill Hill, Kennet Long Barrow - one of the most impressive Neolithic graves in Britain. Also West Kennet Avenue where a series of standing stones not only mark the route to Avebury but appear to have acted as grave markers too. The Sanctuary is an extraordinary ceremonial temple, built of concentric rings of standing stones and wooden posts and Silbury Hill is the largest artificial prehistoric mound in Europe.
The Alexander Keiller Museum tells the story of this fascinating place and houses finds from across the Avebury region of the World Heritage site.
You can learn more about the Avebury World Heritage Site ahead of your stay by visiting the Avebury page on the English Heritage website