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This Week's Walks - Archive

Please see the Saturday Walker's Club This Week's Walks page.

This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

Blog Archive

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Saturday Second Walk – New Walk: From the Vale of Pewsey to the heart of Neolithic Wiltshire

SWC Walk 255 – Pewsey Circular (via Avebury World Heritage Site)

Length: 34.7 km (21.5 mi)
Ascent/Descent:  560 m
Net Walking Time: ca. 8 hours
Toughness:  10 out of 10 
Pewsey to Avebury (incl. out-and-back to Silbury Hill and West Kennett Long Barrow)
Length: 22.9 km (14.3 mi)
Ascent/Descent:  390 m
Net Walking Time: ca. 5 hours
Toughness:  6 out of 10 
Pewsey to Avebury (excl. out-and-back to Silbury Hill and West Kennett Long Barrow)
Length: 17.2 km (10.7 mi)
Ascent/Descent:  368 m
Net Walking Time: ca. 4 hours
Toughness:  5 out of 10 

First posting of this new walk, we will take the opportunity to check the walk directions.
Apologies for posting a new (and very long) walk in the 2nd walk slot, but we are running out of daylight for this one before I have a 3rd walk slot available.

Take the 08.18 Exeter St. David's train from Paddington  (08.48 Reading), arriving Pewsey at 09.39

Pewsey suffers from an infrequent train service, explaining the very early start (the next train is at 11.06, which is too late to finish the full walk before darkness, but early enough for the short versions to Avebury only). Sunset in Pewsey will be at 18.57 hours, giving good light for walking until close to 19.30 hours, and the last stretch is along a road through Pewsey anyway, so we should be fine for light, but bring a torch if you have one, just in case!

Return train  (there is only one reasonable service): 20.23 hours (69 mins journey time)

Buy a Pewsey return ticket.
!! But as Pewsey is just outside the Network Southeast Area: if you are using a Network Railcard, buy a discounted Reading return ticket and a separate Reading-Pewsey return.!!
If you are going to walk “just” to Avebury, the Bus #49 takes you from outside the pub in Avebury to Swindon Station in 25 mins (roughly hourly service until 20.36). You will need a separate Swindon-Reading train ticket!

This is a strenuous excursion into the heart of Neolithic Wiltshire, a mysterious landscape full of pre-historic earthworks, standing stones, sarsen fields and hillforts as well as barrows – burial mounds of kings and warriors. The route passes through or past four of the most famous Neolithic sites in Britain: Fyfield Down Sarsen Stones Field, Avebury Standing Stones and Bank & Ditch Earthworks, Silbury Hill and West Kennett Long Barrow. You walk out of the beautiful Vale of Pewsey in a northerly direction over the southerly ridge of the Marlborough Downs, from where there are stunning far views over this land of wave-like hills, with its scarps, ridges and valleys, before heading to above attractions. Later the walk leads up to Wiltshire’s highest peak (Milk Hill) with its stunning Down. After a scenic descent into the Vale of Pewsey an undemanding stretch along the Kennet & Avon Canal leads back to Pewsey with its many tea options.

For the walk directions click here.
For a map, a height profile, gpx/kml files, and some photos, click here.
The lunch pub is The Red Lion in Avebury (17.2 km/10.7 mi), or The Who'd A Thought It  in Lockeridge (9.7 km/6.0 mi), if you are walking one of the shorter versions of the walk at a leisurely pace (or if you take the later train).
For the tea options in Pewsey check page 2 of the walk directions (the cafes will be shut by the time we get there, of course...).


Anonymous said...

Gorgeous walk but you are welcome to do it as a day trip! I would only ever stay over. It is too sad to leave it in the evening.

Marion said...

Thomas the Pewsey to Avebury section looks like a great walk for the Mid-week senior walkers who prefer shorter walks and can get a third off all train fares after 9.30am. If you haven't checked the short walk option maybe we could do that if Arthur Dent is agreeable?

Thomas G said...

Marion: good idea, but the short walk is route-identical with the long walk all the way to Avebury, so doesn't need a separate walk-check. And on the current timetable it only works with a packed lunch option on weekdays anyway (11.33 dep/12.43 arr). Not sure you'd fancy that...

Thomas G said...

Correction: food served until 15.00 hours weekdays at The Who'd A Thought It. No packed lunch necessary.

DAC said...

Intend going.

Stargazer said...

n=13 w=bright-sunshine-and-near-full-moon

Thirteen intrepid SWC walkers alighted at Pewsey station about the time most others were probably just leaving London on their respective trains. All but two of these completed the full journey through time across the mysterious neolithic Wiltshire landscape (including two who had had no intention of doing so!); one person was unaccounted for on "the" return train -- possible alien abduction??? The walk itself, although very long, is quite a gem (nearly perfect -- aside from 2 recommendations --already relayed to the author) and the walk instructions come complete with detailed guidance notes on the various points of interest passed along the way.

In more detail -- not far from Pewsey, the route climbed one of the many ridges for stunning views of the swooping hills of Wiltshire; then passed through a forest with a peaceful clearing almost alpine in nature. Further along, 4 stopped for a brief refreshment to provide much needed energy to complete the 10 mile walk to lunch! The 2 doing the short walk arrived about the time we left (and later caught the 4:30 bus in Avebury). After passing through an interesting valley full of "sarcen" stones, the four caught up with most the others just finishing their lunch in Avebury and ultimately formed the "rear guard" after stopping to admire the West Kennet Long Barrow. The early evening light cast a magical glow across the landscape as this group crossed over Milk Hill and past the White Horse. A near full moon reflected in the water of the canal provided an atmospheric ending to this journey around 7:45 pm -- with just enough time for a well deserved and much needed drink in the pub before catching a Penzance express back to London.

Pia said...

It is indeed one of the finest walks that I have done from London. Even the short walk (we only managed 10m and then succumbed to the delicious NT scones & tea) was delightful. The first pub 'Who w'd have thought it' served excellent food very fast and good beers I understand, and is in a quieter and more idyllic location than the 2nd one for the long walk, which was inundated with tourists, scaffolding and on a busy road. Ideal Wednesday walk I would think, as already suggested. Glorious views, very quiet lanes and paths, a little muddy at times but no tarmac. A blissful outing.