Introducing the Trail

Find useful facts and learn more about The Ridgeway below. Select the blue tabs below for more details.

About the Trail

The Ridgeway National Trail passes through a surprisingly remote part of southern central England. From its start in the World Heritage Site of Avebury, it follows a ridge of chalk hills in a northeasterly direction for 87 miles (139 Km) to reach Ivinghoe Beacon lying to the northwest of London. Popularly known as ‘Britain’s oldest road’, The Ridgeway still follows the same route over the high ground used since prehistoric times by travellers, herdsmen and soldiers. Today it is popular with walkers, runners, cyclists, horse riders and disabled people using mobility scooters.

West of the River Thames, The Ridgeway is a broad track passing through the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and is often quite a distance from villages or towns. Here you’ll experience wide, open views of rolling chalk downland and find many archaeological monuments close to the Trail including Stone Age long barrows, Bronze Age round barrows, Iron Age forts and the figures of white horses cut into the chalk. East of the Thames, The Ridgeway travels through the more-wooded and intimate hills and valleys of the Chilterns AONB where, as well as further archaeological treasures, there are several nature reserves rich in the wildlife found in chalk grassland habitats. In the Chilterns, The Ridgeway goes close to or through several villages and small towns where refreshments and other facilities are easily available.

There are route descriptions in the Further Information section of this website, proposing six sections/days for walkers to complete The Ridgeway. Other variations are described in the itineraries and there are circular walks and rides to sample parts of the Trail. Ideas for cyclists and horse riders to enjoy the Trail between Avebury and Goring-on-Thames are also set out on this website.

The Ridgeway can be enjoyed all year round, but spring through to autumn (March to November) probably provides the best views, the most wildlife and better surface conditions underfoot. Early May is the best time to enjoy the bluebells that carpet many of the Chiltern woodlands, one of the treats for visitors to The Ridgeway.

The National Trail is very well way-marked so following the route is easy. But it is always a good idea to take a guidebook or map.

What is special about the Trail?

For, at least 5,000 years and maybe many more, people, including drovers, traders and invaders, have walked or ridden The Ridgeway. As part of a prehistoric track, once stretching about 250 miles (400 Km) from the Dorset coast to the Wash on the Norfolk coast, it provided a route over the high ground for travellers which was less wooded and drier than routes through the springline villages below.

The Ridgeway passes through two distinctive landscapes; the open downland of the west within the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the more gentle and wooded countryside of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the east.

Holiday Inspiration

Visit our Walking Holidays Page for holiday inspiration for the Ridgeway.

Latest News

Visit our News Page for the latest interesting and exciting news on the Ridgeway.

 

 

Events

Take a look at our Events calendar to find details of the enjoyable events that are taking place along the Trail. Event organisers holding events on The Ridgeway can add their event to the calendar.

Top tips for cycling

Ideas for great days out and updates on Ridgeway Riding Route project

The Ridgeway

Click the play button to see the highlights of The Ridgeway

DAYS

6

DISTANCE

139km

Click here to view more videos about The Ridgeway.

Discover ancient sites and stunning wildlife

Starting at the world famous Avebury Stone Circle follow this ancient route through nature reserves and past Neolithic tombs and the Uffington White Horse.

Create your own trip

Feeling inspired? Build a bespoke itinerary and start planning your visit to this great National Trail here.