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Return to nature on this 7 day long distance walk following the Ridgeway National Trail, Britain’s oldest road; a route used for at least 5,000 years, by travellers, herdsmen and soldiers. Return to nature, away from the crowds, through ancient landscapes, secluded valleys and woodland.
As well as the fantastic hiking, this tour will take you to Oxford, the ‘City of Dreaming Spires’ at the beginning of this tour, the World Heritage city of Bath at the end of our trip, as well as the World Heritage Stone Circles at Avebury – think Stonehenge but bigger – and Stonehenge itself. We also visit the famous Highclere Castle (the set for the hit tv show Downton Abbey).
Don’t feel obliged to walk the full distance each day. There are many shorter options for guests, with opportunities to spend more time at the iconic sites, castles, manors, gardens and in the cities for those wishing to walk fewer miles each day.
Travel into Oxford, a short 1 hour direct train from London Paddington station. Our guides will meet you at the station and take our group for a guided walking tour of this famous university city, visiting Oxford Colleges, Christchurch Cathedral and lunch in the centre of town. In the afternoon we head out on a punting trip down the Thames. Punts are old-fashioned English boats, with a long pole to propel yourself. Test your punting skills or sit back and relax as you are guided downstream. We have English afternoon tea in the Randolph before heading to our hotel, the Voco Spires, for dinner in the evening.
Mileage: 2-4 miles
We drive to the Ridgeway at Watlington for our first day’s walk. Through some ancient yew woodlands and up onto the chalk grassland we walk to the National Trust Café at Huntercombe for lunch. Home to one of the most remarkable men of the 20th century, Nuffield Place was built by Lord Nuffield, who manufactured Morris Motor cars with the towering figure of the Arts and Crafts movement, William Morris. After lunch we continue down the Old Drovers Path, to a series of Iron Age linear earthworks at Grim’s Ditch, and down into Wallingford. We stay in the wonderful Perch and Pike thatched cottage hotel and eat out in a local gastro pub.
Mileage: 6-8 miles
We walk the Ridgeway and along the Thames footpath where we lunch in the pretty town of Goring on Thames, with a wealth of cafes and pubs to choose from. We then climb back through the dramatic Goring Gap, the narrowest part of the Thames Valley with the river and a railway nestled between the hills either side. We return to the Perch and Pike in the late afternoon where guests have a free evening and plenty of restaurant options to choose from for dinner.
Mileage: 7-9 miles
After breakfast we transfer out to Highclere Castle. Built in the Jacobethen style and with Capability Brown designed gardens, this 5000 acre estate is home to the Earl of Carnavon and was the main filming location of the tv series Downton Abbey. With plenty to explore we spend the morning here before returning to the Ridgeway for an afternoon walk along the National Trail. This evening we stay in West Challow in the Vale of the White Horse and eat out in town.
Mileage: 5-9.5 miles
We walk out from our hotel towards the stunning White Horse Hill to see the beautiful ancient chalk carving atop the Ridgeway, 111 foot long and thought to be over 3000 year old. Dropping off the Ridgeway we eat in the White Horse Inn in Woolstone and in the afternoon walk to an ancient long barrow – the burial mound Wayland’s smithy, around to a Bronze Age Fort and then onto the quaint village of Ogbourne St George. Tonight guests dine on their own as we return to our hotel in West Challow.
Mileage: 5-8.5 miles
This morning we walk to the World Heritage Site at Avebury. The stone circles here are one of the greatest marvels of prehistoric Britain. Built and much altered during the Neolithic period, roughly between 2850 BC and 2200 BC, the henge survives as a huge circular bank and ditch, encircling an area that includes part of Avebury village. We can walk right up to the stones here, before travelling on to the famous Stonehenge, erected in its current stone form in about 2500 BC. In the evening we journey on to the spa city of Bath, and to our hotel The Bird where we have our final night’s dinner.
Mileage: 6-10 miles
After breakfast we say farewell and help everyone with their ongoing travel arrangements. Many choose to stay on in Bath, to explore the Roman Baths and more of the cities celebrated restaurants, theatres, galleries and canals. Please ask if you would like help to organise and book extra days in Bath. There are regular departures from Bath Spa station, only a short walk from your hotel, for an easy and direct 1.5 hour journey into London.
For full information about this tour and to find out all you need to know, download your copy of the detailed itinerary by clicking the button below.
This tour does not walk the full Ridgeway route but hops on and off the trail and visiting heritage sites along the way. Your tour will be tailored by your guide to suite your individual preferences, without missing out on any of the stunning views or iconic points of interest. Walking the full distances each day is rated 3/5 in difficulty, meaning it’s appropriate for guests going for a good walk and able to handle a few inclines. Our shorter walking options are rated 2/5, appropriate for guests keen to walk along and up our beautiful hills to get to the panoramic views, and who wish to spend more time looking around our iconic monuments and castles.
The Ridgeway is in Southern Central England, stretching down from Wiltshire, through the Chilterns AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and the North Wessex Downs AONB. You can walk the trail in either direction, though on our tours we start at the Ivinghoe Beacon, finishing at Avebury Stonehenge.
We have handpicked the best family run, independent and country hotels and pubs near to both the Ridgeway and the Heritage Sites we visit along the way. Cosy and with informal dining, these country hotels are friendly and relaxed, with great menus with locally sourced food and ales.