608 TUTOR: Adrian Woodford (BA (Hons) MA)
The upland chalk trackways of Wessex and the Chilterns created a ready link between the south-west of England and mainland Europe, as well as a route to the extraordinary sanctuaries at Avebury and Stonehenge. During this course, you will walk the so-called 'Wessex Ridgeway' from the edge of Devizes to the great sanctuary at Avebury. From Avebury, your route will bisect the modern National Ridgeway Trail and continue east across magical Fyfield Down and on towards Marlborough. The terrain is generally good and on well-made tracks, although there are some long uphill and downhill sections. Each day, you will walk between three and five miles.
The Ridgeway, initially brought to fame by the makers and namers of the Ordnance Survey, is considered a fixed entity running from Ivinghoe Beacon to Overton Ridge. However, the bundle of routes extensively used by our ancestors, crossing from Kent and The Wash to the far west of England, ranged much further. Over the week we will walk a section of the so-called 'Wessex Ridgeway' from Devizes towards Marlborough.
From the northern edge of Devizes, we will head north up to Roundway Down, the site of one of the Royalist Army's last successes in the English Civil War. We will then follow the Ridgeway across open country to the foot of Morgan's Hill.
As we climb Morgan's Hill, prehistoric trails, Roman roads, post-Roman boundary markers and a Bronze Age fort crowd the dramatic route. We climb over Calstone Down and meet our transport back to Marlborough just beyond Cherhill.
We follow open downland, with the A4 to the left and Roman Road to the right. Near Beckhampton, we head north-east, passing scattered barrows and standing stones, before reaching Avebury, the great religious and cultural centre of the ancient Ridgeway.
From Avebury we climb on to the Marlborough Downs, cutting through chalk landscape and briefly meeting 'The Ridgeway' proper on Overton Down. We pass the last vestiges of vast 'trains' of sarsen stones, many of which were dragged away to create Avebury and Stonehenge, Wiltshire walls and the tramway of Swindon. We finish on the Manton Downs near Rockley.
Depending on our progress, we will either follow the 'Herepath' Saxon military road back into Marlborough, or continue north towards the Ogbournes, rejoining the winter route of the better known 'Ridgeway'.
Each day's walk will be around 4 miles, depending on terrain and journey times to the beginning and end of each walk.
Adrian Woodford has worked as a guide from the mountains of Nepal to the streets of Venice. He has written walking guides to France and Italy, and run a series of walking weeks at the Marlborough Summer School.
All courses run for 5 days
WK 1 11 Jul - 15 Jul
WK 2 18 Jul - 22 Jul
WK 3 25 Jul - 29 Jul
WK 4 1 Aug - 5 Aug
9.15AM to 12.15PM
1.45PM to 4.30PM
All Day Courses
9.15AM to 4.30PM