The Wessex Ridgeway 2014

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After my fine walk in April along the Anglesey Coastal Path I had been pondering what other walk I should do this year. I had long thought about completing the Ridgeway, but what always put me off was the amount of traffic along it. I will get around to walking it one day, but after a google search the Wessex Ridgeway popped up and I immediately thought yes that’s the one. I’ve enjoyed Dorset from time to time with work (I’ve drilled a few oilwells down this way), and on holiday in Charmouth. So I know what the county can offer. I was also keen to get a good look around Avebury and enjoy the atmosphere of the site, having a relaxing stroll around before I start my walk along the ridgeway. It’s an ancient green route that linked the coast of Dorset and runs all the way over to the Wash on the east coast. This is the description on the LDWA website –‘One of the links in a prehistoric route, often called the Greater Ridgeway, from The Wash to the South Devon Coast, this route basically extends the Ridgeway National Trail to the south-west. Passed on the way, through Wiltshire, are the stone circles at Avebury (a World Heritage Site jointly with Stonehenge), the Vale of Pewsey, the northern edge of Salisbury Plain, the Wylye Valley and Win Greene Hill. In Dorset Cranbourne Chase, Cerne Abbas with the 180ft high Cerne Giant and Pilsden Pen are visited before a short route through Devon leads to the finish in Dorset.’

Post walk thoughts


I had to ponder about this long walk for a while, and see what thoughts it generated in my head when looking back through my photographs of the journey. When I finished the Wessex Ridgeway I didn’t get the feeling of satisfaction I normally have at the end of one of my long distance paths. It was more a feeling of ‘well that didn’t turn out as I thought it would’. I did enjoy the journey, as with all of the long walks  it’s a discovery of paths and landscapes new to me every day. It wasn’t at a high level and most of the ascents and descents were steady, and even the steep bits weren’t too bad. It’s not a route that has been over walked, and some days it was definitely the path less trodden – very overgrown in places, but some of this is due to the fact that there is an easily accessible track adjacent to the route. I did wander away from the official Ridgeway for accommodation reasons and also to visit different places such as Cerne Abbas. I also started the walk at Avebury rather than Marlborough to reduce my mileage on the first day and to allow myself a wander around the henge, and I’d definitely recommend doing that.

There isn’t a great Ridgeway to follow and it’s a bit misleading as it doesn’t always stick to the high ground. On the ground itself be prepared for walking along a lot of bridleways, metalled tracks, old green lanes, much cow pasture, and multiple fields. Depending on what time of year it is in relation to the farming calendar it could be really difficult to pass through some of the crops as they mature. For this reason a walk in spring or late summer is probably the best option. I was lucky once more with the weather as it was dry for 9 days, and I did wonder how muddy it would get given that there is a lot of 4x4 trails along the route.

The plan

As always logistics played a part in planning the route and I have not stuck religously to the waymarked route, I’ve wobbled about a little to ensure I have somewhere to stay every night along the way. Dorset is a bit of a ‘honeypot’ for tourism and as such the B&amp;B’s are generally fairly busy, especially at weekends, which accounts for some of the wobbles as first choice of B&amp;B was not available. It took sometime and a good placement of my car to figure out     how to do this in the most efficient way. I was visiting  family in Cornwall the week before my walk. I have been looking around the web a little but there isn’t too much information out there, one of the sites I’ve enjoyed is about Avebury past and present and it will help make my trip there the more enjoyable – <a href=""></a></p><p>Plan A is for fine weather but after all the dry weather I had on Anglesey, I’m hoping it’s not payback time – I may carry a large brolly with me if the forecast is inclement weather. I did this once before when walking Hadrians Wall and it was successful, mainly because it wasn’t too windy. We shall see…</p>I shall drive down to Cornwall to see family for a few  days, then drive up to Cattistock to park my car at one of my B&amp;B’s. Walk to Maiden Newton to catch a train up to Bath and on to Swindon, which will be a pleasant little journey through the countryside. I quite like a train journey now and again as long as they aren’t too long. Off the train at Swindon and onto a bus down to Avebury, and walk a mile or two to my B&B. After a mooch around Avebury and it’s surrounds the walk will start properly, take me 9 days, and fits very nicely into 15 or 16 mile chunks. I shortened the first day so I could have an easy warm up and a relaxed start, and preferred to start from Avebury rather than Marlborough. I used memory map to plan out my routes and  rather successfully managed to keep fairly even mileage over  the whole route – time will tell how many diversions will be added.

My itinery is thus -

Day One – Avebury to Roundway – 10.6miles

Day Two – Roundway to Edington – 16.3 miles

Day Three – Edington to Heytesbury – 15 miles

Day Four – Heytesbury to Donhead St Andrew– 16 miles

Day Five – Donhead St Andrew to Iwerne Minster – 15 miles

Day Six – Iwerne Minster to Higher Melcombe – 13.5 miles

Day Seven – Higher Melcombe to Cattistock – 14.6 miles

Day Eight – Cattistock to Broadwindsor – 14.2 miles

Day Nine – Broadwindsor to Lyme Regis – 15.2 miles


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