Ridgeway Complete - 7 Days
7 walking days
8 nights accommodation
Walking distance 99.6 miles
Average daily distance 14.2 miles
Longest day 16.7 miles
Total ascent 7,389 feet
Most ascent in one day 1,621 feet
This itinerary completes the Ridgeway in a week. Although the official distance is 87 miles, with walking to and from your accommodation this increases to 99.6 miles averaging 14.2 miles per day. The longest day is 16.7 miles.
The path is well-signposted but can be hilly, particularly towards the end.
Although shown below as west to east, it can be reversed and walked east to west.
Day 0 Arrive at Avebury
At Avebury, you will stay at Dorwyn Manor, a popular bed and breakfast with Ridgeway walkers. Avebury is a world heritage site, home to a large collection of neolithic standing stones and is just a 20 minute taxi ride from Pewsey station.
You might want to spend the afternoon walking around Avebury. Aside from the standing stones, there’s also Silbury Hill, Long Barrow and the Sanctuary. You can also include these at the start of your next day’s walk.
Day 1 Avebury to Ogbourne St George 10.1 miles (583 feet of ascent)
The Journey Although the path officially starts at Overton Hill between West and East Kennet, if staying at Avebury you can take a path from the village to join The Ridgeway at Overton Down. It’s the same distance as from Overton Hill so don’t feel cheated.
Or you can follow our suggested detour and visit Long Barrow and the Sanctuary, passing Silbury Hill along the way, and finishing at the official start of The Ridgeway. It’s an additional 3.5 miles but, as it’s a shorter day, you should have plenty time.
The Path follows a northerly direction across the Marlborough Downs past the White Horse of Hackpen Hill as far as Barbury Castle, one of four iron-age hillforts that you will pass before reaching Goring. From there, the path heads eastwards before dropping down to the Og Valley and Ogbourne St George.
The Destination Ogbourne St George is the only town/village you will meet between Avebury and Goring. So enjoy the fact that you don’t have to detour far to get to your accommodation!
Having said that, it’s still a 0.7 mile walk from the Trail to the inn, through the village passing the ancient church and manor house along the way. This is included in the mileage above. Tomorrow you don’t have to retrace your steps. You can rejoin the Trail by following the disused railway line, now a cycle path.
The Inn with the Well is well named (excuse the pun!), a well sitting in the middle of the bar. It’s a popular place for walkers and also cyclists traversing the King Alfred Way.
Day 2 Ogbourne St George to Woolstone 14.5 miles (939 feet of ascent)
The Journey: Today’s walk starts by retracing your steps through the village of Ogbourne St George and crossing the busy A346, which follows the old Roman Road from Cirencester to Marlborough. If you’ve decided to follow the cycle path out of the village you’ll save yourself 0.7 miles. The path then heads north to Liddington Castle, another iron age hill fort.
The path turns north east, dropping down to a road which crosses over the M4. The road walk lasts just over a mile and is perhaps the least attractive section of the entire Ridgeway. So you’ll be pleased to to get it out of the way. On regaining the ridge you will pass the “long barrow” of Waylands Smithy, an ancient burial mound built around 5,500 years ago.
The Destination: The pretty village of Woolstone lies 1.2 miles to your north and 300 feet below you, most of which is down a quiet lane. Remember that you’ll have to walk back up this hill tomorrow! You will stay at the White Horse, where food is served daily. It’s aptly named as it’s overshadowed by the huge carving in the hill above. But that’s for tomorrow!
Day 3 Woolstone to East Ilsley 16.7 miles (1091 feet of ascent)
The journey: It’s back up the hill to regain the Ridgeway just before Uffington White Horse built around 3,000 years ago. Quite why, nobody really knows although various theories have been put forward. You will pass the flat-topped Dragon Hill where legend has it that St George slew the dragon. The bare grass on the top is where the dragon’s blood spilled. And, below you, is the Manger, a beautiful dry valley. The entire landscape is full of mystery and it’s here that Tolkien drew inspiration for Lord of the Rings.
You will be following the ridge throughout the day and, aside from the occasional farmhouse, you will not pass any villages. Throughout the walk you will see gallops and stables, homes to the many horse training centres found in this part of Wiltshire. Lambourn, which lies a few miles to your south, is, after Newmarket, the largest centre of horse race training in the UK. A memorial to Lord Wantage, who fought in the Crimean War, acts as a marker for many a mile.
Shortly before dropping down to East Ilsley you will pass beneath the busy A34. A series of murals have been painted depicting life in the ancient district of “Compton Hundred” . One of them shows a battle which might be the Battle of Ashdown in 1871 where the Danes were defeated by the West Saxons.
The destination: It’s another 1.2 miles to reach your destination of East Ilsley. This time you are heading south (right) and you have a choice of paths: one running alongside the gallops; the other running in parallel, a field’s width away. So you can vary the return journey! At East Ilsley, two inns vie for your attention: the Swan, and the Crown and Horns, both offering decent bed and breakfast accommodation.
Day 4 East Ilsley to Wallingford 14.6 miles (555 feet of ascent)
The Journey: After four days of following the top of the downs, you may be glad of a change of scene as the path drops into the Goring Gap and follows the River Thames northwards.
Streatley and Goring are a pair of villages on either side of the Thames which Thames Path walkers will be familiar with. George Michael lived here and his house can be seen from the trail.
It’s remarkable to think that, since Ogbourne St George 33 miles earlier, the Ridgeway has not passed through a single village.
Goring marks a major change of scene. For the next six miles you’ll be following a river. In fact, you may even wonder why it’s called The Ridgeway. But the route it follows, which is on the opposite side from the Thames Path, is delightful and far superior than its illustrious neighbour.
You will look down on Cleeve Lock where Pete Townshend wrote much of Quadrophenia whilst renting the lock-keeper’s cottage. And just before Wallingford is the village of Mongewell, once home to Carmel College, a Jewish boarding school. You can walk past the decaying buildings and visit the derelict church of St John the Baptist overlooking the river.
The Destination: Wallingford is about a mile away from the Ridgeway and makes a good place to take a break. You reach it by crossing the Thames on Nosworthy Way and then following the Thames Path into town. Aside from the delightful b&b, there’s plenty shops, bars and restaurants in the town. There’s even a town hall that shows movies occasionally. Oh, and don’t forget to visit the castle!
Day 5 Wallingford to Lewknor 14.0 miles (1376 feet of ascent)
The Journey: After returning the same way as you came from your short diversion to Wallingford, the Trail leaves the river and heads east following Grim’s Ditch, part of a 19 mile long iron-age earthworks possibly marking a boundary.
The Trail takes on some variety now, passing through bluebell-filled woods, fields ripe with seeds, and even a golf course (keep alert!). There are some interesting buildings to see: Nuffield Place, which is at a distance, was home to Sir William Morris, as in the motor car. Ewelme Park, Swyncombe House and the lovely St Botolph’s Church are all seen from the Trail.
The Destination: The Thame Lambert Hotel lies 0.7 miles beyond the village of Lewknor, It’s just 0.4 miles off the Trail. The most direct route is to walk down the A40, which, although lacking a pavement, is not as busy as it sounds.
A quieter road leaves the Trail 0.7 miles earlier taking you to the village of Lewknor which has a pub and a church but not much else. You can then walk, again on quiet roads, the same distance to the hotel.
The hotel is far busier than what you will be accustomed to as it sits close to a junction of the M40 which you will have walked under to get here.
Day 6 Lewknor to Wendover 14.8 miles (1621 feet of ascent)
The Journey: Although not quite the longest, this is likely to be your toughest day on the Ridgeway because of the hills. The Trail starts by continuing up the straight and level track at the foot of the Chilterns passing Chinnor to your left. If lucky you might catch a glimpse of the steam train that runs to and from Princes Risborough.
It then takes quite a southerly loop over Lodge Hill and over the railway line close by Saunderton Tunnel to skirt the edge of Princes Risborough. Whiteleaf Cross, home to another chalk carving, is your next hill. Down the other side you will hopefully be at The Plough, just in time for lunch!
Suitably revived you must tackle another hill. This time it’s Pulpit Hill, home to Grangelands Nature Reserve. Look out for orchids and butterflies.
You exit Pulpit Wood through the grounds of Chequers, the country seat of the Prime Minister. Make sure you heed the warnings and stay on the Path!
Past Chequers another wooded ascent, the last of the day, leads you to Coombe Hill and the Boer War Monument before descending to Wendover.
The Destination: Wendover is an attractive market town with plenty of shops and restaurants. You will be staying at Bel & the Dragon, a Fuller’s brand that you may be familiar with if you’ve walked the Thames Path (Cookham and Windsor). For once you don’t need to divert from the Trail which passes the front door of the 17th century coaching inn. Food is served all day.
Day 7 Wendover to Ivinghoe Beacon 14.9 miles (1224 feet of ascent)
The Journey: It’s 11 more miles to the end of The Ridgeway but provision must be made for returning to the nearest accommodation which is in Aldbury. After a walk through woods and fields you enter Tring Park and the glorious King Charles Ride. Tring Station lies across the A40 and the Grand Union Canal.
The Ridgeway recaptures the high ground towards the end of the walk climbing through Aldbury Nowers, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, emerging from the woodlands to open ground leading to the terminus of Ivinghoe Beacon.
The Destination: As Ivinghoe Beacon is some distance from any accommodation, you will need to partly retrace your steps to cover the 3.5 miles to the Greyhound at Aldbury, a charming village inn. We say “partly” because only a mile is on The Ridgeway, the rest being on public footpaths
through woods. We’ll provide you with directions.
The inn lies in the heart of the village which is set in a conservation area. It’s a popular film location and was featured in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.
Tring Station is just under a mile away. There’s a footpath running alongside the road so it’s quite safe to walk. But, with luggage, you might want to book a taxi.
Prices inclusive of bed and breakfast plus baggage transfer between hotels. A map and guide book is also included. You will have unlimited access to our local team in the event of difficulties.
Price per person assuming shared occupancy: £810
Price per person assuming single occupancy: £1,280
Rest days can be purchased but prices vary depending on category of hotel.