Walking in the North Wessex Downs

By Steve Davison

30 walking routes exploring the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The routes are between 7 and 20km through this peaceful rolling chalk landscape covering parts of four counties: Berkshire, Hampshire, Wiltshire and Oxfordshire, with descriptions to reach the highest points in each one.



All year round. Spring and early summer are best for wild flowers, butterflies and birds; in autumn the trees are splashed in golden-brown autumnal colours, while a frosty winter's day can give impressive clear views


Marlborough, Lambourn, Great Bedwyn, Dorchester on Thames, Hungerford, Pewsey, Kingsclere The walks are accessible from the following towns outside of the area: Didcot, Wantage, Swindon, Calne, Devizes, Andover, Basingstoke, Newbury and Reading


Walks to suit most ages and abilities; no difficulties apart from some short steep uphill and downhill sections; can be muddy in winter
Must See

Must See

Panoramic views, the highest points in Berkshire, Hampshire, Wiltshire and Oxfordshire; the rivers Thames, Kennet, Pang and Lambourn; picturesque villages with thatched cottages, historic churches and cosy pubs. Prehistoric sites; Avebury, the Uffington White Horse, Neolithic and Bronze Age long barrows and Iron Age hill forts.
8 Jun 2015
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.2cm
  • Overview

    This guidebook to 30 walks in the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) explore walking routes between 7 and 20km in length, through Berkshire, Hampshire, Wiltshire and Oxfordshire.

    The name 'Wessex' brings to mind Alfred the Great, Saxon hordes and chalk downs sculpted into ancient forts. And while that is all true, the North Wessex Downs are also accessible hills that rise above the towns and rural plains of southern England and roll gently west from Reading and Basingstoke to Swindon and down past Malborough to Andover.

    From chalk white horses, to Avebury hill fort, neolithic barrows, ancient villages tucked next to babbling rivers in the shadow of the Downs and long panoramic views from county high-points; the walks in this guidebook offer fantastic half and full days for walkers of all abilities. Alongside detailed route descriptions and OS maps, is a wealth of detail on points of interest along the way, as well as practical information on the area from public transport links, to ideal refreshment stops on each walk. The result is an ideal companion to exploring both the popular and untouched corners of the North Wessex Downs.

  • Contents

    Brief history
    Plants and wildlife
    Where to stay
    Getting around
    Food and drink
    Long-distance routes
    Walking in the North Wessex Downs
    Waymarking, access and rights of way
    Protecting the countryside
    Using this guide
    Berkshire Downs East
    Walk 1 Chapel Row, Bucklebury and Stanford Dingley
    Walk 2 Ashampstead and Yattendon
    Walk 3 Aldworth
    Walk 4 Shillingford, Wittenham Clumps and Dorchester on Thames
    Walk 5 Blewbury and the Astons
    Lambourn Downs
    Walk 6 West Ilsley and Farnborough
    Walk 7 Ardington and the Hendreds
    Walk 8 Great Shefford, Chaddleworth and East Garston
    Walk 9 Lambourn and Eastbury
    Walk 10 The Ridgeway and the Letcombe villages
    Walk 11 Compton Beauchamp, Woolstone and the Uffington White Horse
    Walk 12 Ashbury and Bishopstone
    Marlborough Downs
    Walk 13 Ramsbury and Littlecote
    Walk 14 Mildenhall and the River Kennet
    Walk 15 Marlborough and Savernake Forest
    Walk 16 Ogbourne St Andrew, Rockley and Barbury Castle
    Walk 17 Fyfield Down and the Devil’s Den
    Walk 18 Avebury
    Vale of Pewsey
    Walk 19 Cherhill and Oldbury Castle
    Walk 20 Heddington, Oliver’s Castle, Roundway Down and Morgan’s Hill
    Walk 21 Alton Barnes and the Wansdyke
    Walk 22 Knap Hill and Oare
    Walk 23 Martinsell Hill and Wootton Rivers
    Walk 24 Great Bedwyn and Wilton
    North Hampshire Downs
    Walk 25 Tidcombe and Hippenscombe Bottom
    Walk 26 Inkpen and Walbury Hill
    Walk 27 Ashmansworth and Faccombe
    Walk 28 St Mary Bourne and the Bourne Valley
    Walk 29 Ecchinswell and Ladle Hill
    Walk 30 Kingsclere and Hannington

    Appendix A Route summary table
    Appendix B Useful contacts
    Appendix C Further reading

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    We are always grateful to readers for information about any discrepancies between a guidebook and the facts on the ground. If you would like to send some information to us then please use our contact form. They will be published here following review by the author(s).

  • Reviews

    "I have a fondness for the format of Cicerone guide books. They are clearly written, a handy size to drop
    into a map pocket and, best of all for me, they use Ordnance Survey mapping. I also have a fondness
    for Steve Davison’s books. He enriches the essential practicalities of the walking routes with numerous
    interesting digressions on the villages, the churches, the wildlife, the geology and the history through
    which you pass. I was already familiar with a number of the 30 walks in the book but was inspired to
    try a few new ones. In every case they proved enjoyable and the descriptions in the book proved
    accurate and informative.

    In any book review it is usual to find fault with something. Praise is usually followed by a “but…….”.
    Here I have no reservations.

    I recommend this book to those familiar and unfamiliar with the North
    Wessex Downs. The walks are between just over 4 miles to 12 miles in length, with varying degrees of
    severity. There is something for everyone. Beg, borrow or steal a copy, put your boots on and get out
    into this wonderful countryside.”

    Ian Ritchie, Friends of the Ridgeway, October 2015

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Steve Davison

Steve Davison is a freelance writer and photographer who has written several walking guides. He has also written for a number of outdoor magazines and other publications, including local and national newspapers, specialising in hill walking and European travel, with interests in nature, geology and the countryside. A keen hill walker for many years and a Mountain Leader, Steve has also worked as a part-time outdoor education instructor. He is also a member of the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild.

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