Beneath your feet
The Ridgeway follows a chalk ridge cut in two at almost its mid-point by the Goring Gap through which the River Thames flows. To the south west of the Goring Gap is the North Wessex Downs, and to the north east the Chilterns.
The chalk started to form about 100 million years ago beneath the seas, and the landscape we now see began to take shape around 30 million years ago as Africa collided with Europe. This caused the rocks in this area of England, including the chalk, to tilt very slightly towards the southeast. The result of this is that the northern edge of the chalk drops down as a steep hill, or scarp, to flat valleys below, while the chalk plateau declines gently away to the south.
To find out more about the geology of The Ridgeway, and to see a gradient profile for each section of the Trail, either download the leaflet below or send a request for this leaflet with your postal address (UK addresses only) to National Trails Office