Ridgeway complete -8 days
This itinerary allows you to walk the Ridgeway in just over a week. Although the official distance is 87 miles, with walking to and from your accommodation this increases 100 miles averaging 12.5 miles per day.
8 walking days
9 nights accommodation
Walking distance 100.0 miles
Average daily distance 12.5 miles
Longest day 14.9 miles
Total ascent 7,654 feet
Most ascent in one day 1,621 feet
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 1 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 cyclists traversing the King Alfred Way.
Day 2 Ogbourne St George to Bishopstone 10.5 miles (770 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. 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.
Shortly after regaining the ridge, you will see the village of Bishopstone below you.
The Destination: The pretty village of Bishopstone lies 3/4ths of a mile to your north and 200 feet below you. A footpath takes you down a dry valley, past Bishopstone Folly and straight into the village. Remember that you’ll have to walk back up this hill tomorrow!
You will stay at the Helen Browning’s Royal Oak where food is served daily. Helen Browning is somewhat of a celebrity in these parts, running an organic farm as well as a shop on the premises of the hotel. The food is, of course, organic and local.
Day 3 Bishopstone to Letcombe Regis 10.7 miles (831 feet of ascent)
The journey: It’s back up the hill to regain the Ridgeway. You will pass the “long barrow” of Waylands Smithy, an ancient burial mound built around 5,500 years ago.
Next comes the 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 leave the Trail at Gramps Hill where a path will take you down to Letcombe Bassett and then on to Letcombe Regis.
The destination: The village of Letcombe Regis lies a mile and a half north of the Ridgeway. It’s one of the further accommodations but you will not be disappointed by the approach. A steep footpath down the hill takes you to Letcombe Bassett from where you can follow Letcombe Brook, a rare chalkstream inhabited by crayfish and water voles, to Letcombe Regis. Letcombe is derived from Ledecumbe meaning the brook in the valley.
Letcombe Regis is home to the Greyhound, a country inn offering food and accommodation.
Day 4 Letcombe Regis to East Ilsley 11.8 miles (694 feet of ascent)
The Journey: This is your last complete day on the western section and the journey continues on high ground, after a steep walk up from Letcombe Regis.
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 depicts a battle which may be 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 5 East Ilsley to North Stoke 12.7 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.
The Destination: North Stoke is a pretty isolated Thames-side village with just one disadvantage from its neighbour, South Stoke: it has no pub. However, it does have a hotel in the form of the Springs Resort, a golf and health spa just a five minute walk from The Ridgeway. The resort used to be owned by Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan. Unfortunately the guitar-shaped swimming pool was destroyed in the recent refurbishment.
Day 6 North Stoke to Lewknor 14.5 miles (1376 feet of ascent)
The Journey: The Trail follows the river as far as 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. At Mongewell, 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 7 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 on account 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 is another series of wooded hills which will take you to the Crimean 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 8 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: £1,020
Price per person assuming single occupancy: £1,590
Rest days can be purchased but prices vary depending on category of hotel.
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