Ridgeway National Trail
Much of the Ridgeway route follows the ancient trackways of the Wessex Ridgeway and the Icknield Way. The trail passes across the Wiltshire Downs, through two AONB's, The North Wessex Downs (27) and The Chilterns (5) and as a consequence provides a visual feast of landscape beauty. It is also very rewarding historically, passing several important Bronze and Iron Age sites such as Avebury Circle, Barbury Castle and the long barrow, Wayland's Smithy. In Saxon times King Alfred led his army along The Ridgeway to victory against the Danes at the Battle of Ashdown in 871AD. As its name implies, the Ridgeway follows high ground, a ridge of chalk with poor soil, which made it much easier to travel in ancient times when lower plains and valleys were densely wooded and often flooded. Along the western section this height provides walkers with splendid views, big skies and wide open countryside, with few villages or major roads. Along the eastern part of the route the landscape of the Chiltern Hills provides a contrast in being more intimate, passing through pleasant villages, peaceful woods and across farmland.
The route is not difficult to negotiate or navigate but is best visited between April and November when the path surface, the wildlife and the views are at their best. In the main summer months of July and August we recommend you book accommodation in advance when planning your trip as availability on the route is limited. There are a number of Youth hostels, but these also need to be pre-booked.
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