6 day long walks in the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
We offer you 6 fantastic walks taking in the 9 white horses: walk The Ridgeway and along the Wansdyke, enjoy spectacular views from the high chalk downs and a walk along the Kennet and Avon Canal.
Walk 1 Westbury to Devizes
From the dramatic view west above the White Horse at Bratton Camp we walk along the perimeter trail of the Imber ranges to the top of the lane that leads down to the remains of Imber village. The route drops down into the valley and across to the canal. The Raven at Poulshot is a good target for a halfway break, then on up the famous flight of locks on the Kennet and Avon canal below Devizes. Walk into town along the tow path finishing at the Devizes wharf.
If you base yourself in Devizes there are good eateries, great pubs, the excellent Wiltshire Museum and at least two walker friendly B&B's: Southdown Bed and Breakfast and Avalon Lodge
Walk 2 Devizes to Hackpen
The walk leaves Devizes up onto the downs into a choreographed path in the woods on top of the escarpment. As you walk out of town towards the hills you may catch a glimpse of the Devizes White Horse. Across a golf course, round Morgans Hill and along a stretch of roman road and up another lip of eroded chalk downland the route brings you to Oldbury Camp, a crumbling obelisk and the Cherhill White Horse.
The route skirts Avebury but you can see Silbury Hill in the distance and take a picnic perhaps at Windmill Hill. The Ridgeway runs along the great ridge to your east as you cross farmland towards the edge of the western chalk escarpment and soon you will be walking towards the Broad Town White Horse catching sight of it between the trees. At last you will begin the walk east towards the Ridgeway, perhaps a chance for a drink at the The Barbury Inn or The Crown at Broad Hinton - soon you will see your last white horse of the day, the Hackpen White Horse.
Walk 3 Hackpen to Uffington
Our route begins and ends on the Ridgeway with a short cut across the valley midway. No more wolves and bears in the lowlands and very little forest these days, just a fast road to cross and of course the M4 but there is at least a bridge for that! We leave the Hackpen White Horse and walk along the Ridgeway towards another iron age hill fort Barbury Castle. Here the route drops down into arable farmland and heads across the valley towards Liddington Castle. A bit of a climb brings you back onto the Ridgeway, skirting this great earthwork, but definitely worth the short detour for the view! The Ridgway National Trail negotiates the bridge over the M4 and then takes you up to the track again for a long glorious run to Uffington White Horse, the great grandmama of them all. Drop in at Waylands Smith on the way. More information about The Ridgeway from the Friends of the Ridgeway. Why not pop into the Royal Oak at Bishopstone for some refreshment? Walker friendly B&B at Meadowbank House.
Walk 4 Uffington to Marlborough
The route begins in the car park at White Horse Hill viewing the White Horse. There is archeological evidence to date this to the end of the Bronze Age, lots of information in the local museum and on the National Trust website for White Horse Hill. Onto the Ridgeway and after a short distance you will reach Waylands Smithy, a stone age chambered long barrow. The route takes the footpaths off The Ridgeway to a view of Ashdown House, a 'dolls house' palace built in 1662 for the Queen of Bohemia....the Winter Queen.
Following the route round the house and eventually crossing the motorway back and at last returning to the Ridgeway, our route now takes us deeper into history. Descending from the Ridgeway and across the valley floor at Ogbourne St Andrew, the route climbs into the Marlborough Downs, magificent view west into the chalk downland overlooking Rockley. Further along you will reach the valley of the GreyWethers in Fyfield Down Nature Reserve. These old hard grey stones look like a flock of sheep resting, they are sarsen stones the same as the stones used at Avebury and Stonehenge. As the day draws to a close you will walk past a fanciful reconstruction of sarsens, Devils Den and finally across the A4 before heading down the lane towards the Marlborough White Horse where our jouney ends. Check out the Outside Chance for a drink and something to eat or head on into town. The White Horse is on your right after the pub, just past the tennis courts.
Walk 5 Marlborough to Pewsey
From the old town of Marlborough the route takes us just above the Marlborough, or Preshute, White Horse. If you are listening to the sound scape app you will hear sounds in the valley and as you walk up beside the horse. The route of the walk takes in the West Woods, wonderful for bluebells in spring and always atmospheric. Out of the woods and steadily rising you will reach the top of the Pewsey Downs, stunning chalk downland views. On the far side of the vale you will soon be able to see the Pewsey white horse on the escarpment beyond the town. The Kennet and Avon canal and the railway line run up and down the valley, there is a train station at Pewsey. Descend into the valley and cross the canal and railway line before a steep climb up onto the chalk for wonderful views down the valley. The horse is a glorious spot for watching the sun set. If you are following the circular route the end is in sight: more or less where the sun sets. One more spectacular day of walking.
Walk 6 Pewsey to Devizes
This is the final stage in our proposed White Horse Circuit. Beginning in Pewsey in the centre of town, the route takes a short loop east to join the Kennet and Avon Canal tow path. Along the canal, all the way to Alton Barnes, the canal continues west, you may to choose to take a short detour to the pub - The Barge at Honeystrete. Camping here too. Take a moment to check out an eccentric museum and two wonderful small churches before rediscovering the old Ridgeway and climbing up the sunken lane back to the downs. If the weather is good you will have already glimpsed the white horse from the village. Once on the track along the downs you will turn a corner to find it revealed before you. Stunning views from here and crop circles in the summer! Follow the route back on to the Wansdyke and on west again. If you are doing the full circuit you will find yourself on familiar ground at Morgans Hill. The route now takes you back into Devizes passing the newest white horse at the top of the hill looking back up the valley towards Pewsey. Down now into town and back to the canal.
The accommodation providers listed below are offering walker friendly accommodation along the route of the White Horse walks. You can also visit the 'Our Land' website and the Visit Wiltshire website for accommodation providers.