An intro to... The Great Stones Way
You have probably been underestimating the Great Stones Way. Here is a very quick introduction to this perfect first long distance trail.
Where is it and how far is it?
The Great Stones Way long distance route opened in 2014, running for 36-miles through the Wiltshire Downs, from Barbury Castle (south of Swindon) to Old Sarum (north of Salisbury), linking with the end of the Ridgeway National Trail at Avebury.
With an extended start from Coate Water, on the southern outskirts of Swindon, and an extended finish at Salisbury, as well as optional route variants via the prehistoric Avebury Ring stone circle and world-famous Stonehenge (together part of a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site), this walk covers up to 53 miles in total.
Why should you walk it?
The walking is fairly low-level and, apart from some short, steep uphill and downhill sections, there are no difficulties, so the Great Stones Way is accessible to most ages and abilities. It is a gentle route that is best enjoyed by taking your time and stopping to listen to the countryside and admire the views, thinking about how prehistoric people arranged these great stones and imagining why.
However, it is also a lovely introduction to some lovely rolling English countryside with an awe-inspiring historical backdrop of Neolithic henges, stone circles, Bronze Age barrows and Iron Age hill forts.
When should you go?
Walking most UK routes in Spring and Summer is usually sensible so you can make use of the longer days. However, this walk could be managed over a long weekend so you can just wait for a break in the weather and go.
Where should you stay?
There are plenty of accommodation options en route or nearby but take care to book in advance if going at peak times.
Erm the great stones are probably the main draw for people walking this route and Stonehenge is the biggest of them all.