Backup Only

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, 22 April 2017

Saturday Walk - Bluebells and Megaliths: Pewsey to Avebury or Circular (Daywalk or Overnight in Avebury)

SWC Walk 255 – Pewsey to Avebury (World Heritage Site) or Circular
[Revised route! Now including Windmill Hill and The Sanctuary, i.e.: ALL the important Neolithic sites within walking distance of Avebury!]

Walk one of the Pewsey to Avebury Options or the full Pewsey Circular and return the same day or walk Pewsey to Avebury incl. Silbury Hill, West Kennett Long Barrow and The Sanctuary on Saturday, stay overnight (see a list of B&B’s on the webpage or in the pdf) and walk the Windmill Hill Loop from Avebury (see webpage or pdf for details) plus Avebury to Pewsey on Sunday (no lunch pub unless we divert to Honeystreet as in SWC 127)

Pewsey to Avebury
Length:  18.1 km (11.3 mi)
Ascent/Descent:  352 m
Net Walking Time: ca. 4 ¼ hours
Toughness:  5 out of 10 
Pewsey to Avebury (incl. The Stone Avenue, Silbury Hill, West Kennett Long Barrow and The Sanctuary)
Length:  27.1 km (16.9 mi)
Ascent/Descent:  526 m
Net Walking Time: ca. 6 ½ hours
Toughness:  8 out of 10 
Pewsey Circular (incl. The Stone Avenue, Silbury Hill and West Kennett Long Barrow)
Length:  36.3 km (22.6 mi)
Ascent/Descent:  666 m
Net Walking Time: ca. 8 ½ hours
Toughness:  10 out of 10 

Without doubt, Avebury is the most impressive of all remaining pre-historic earthworks in Europe.”

Take the 08.00 Exeter St. David's train from Paddington (08.35 Reading), arriving Pewsey at 09.25.
Pewsey suffers from an infrequent train service, explaining the early start (the next train is at 11.00, arriving 12.02, just about early enough to make it to Lockeridge for lunch on the short option). Return trains: 16.23 or 20.23 on Saturday (66-68 mins journey time) and 16.11, 18.13 or 21.59 on Sunday (74-88 mins journey time).

Buy cheap Advance Single Tickets (available as of 03/02/17), else…Super Off-Peak returns are £37,90 at full price, and £25.00 with Senior, Two Together, etc. (but not Network) Railcards.  
Splitting the ticket !! is the cheapest option though if returning on Saturday !!, especially if travelling on a Network Railcard (buy separate London - Reading and Reading - Pewsey returns).
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 should buy separate tickets as follows: London to Reading return, Reading-Pewsey single and Swindon-Reading single!

The full circular walk 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 important prehistoric sites in Britain: Fyfield Down Sarsen Stones Field, Avebury Standing Stones and Bank & Ditch Earthworks, Silbury Hill and West Kennett Long Barrow (two other sites, The Sanctuary and Windmill Hill, can be explored on extensions).
You walk out of the beautiful Vale of Pewsey 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 through West Woods, The Forestry Commision’s best bluebell wood in England, to Fyfield Down and Avebury.
Later the walk leads along The Wansdyke, a 5th century earth bank and deep ditch. It was built by the beleaguered Romano-British Celts as a fortification to stem the Saxon advance. From there it is just a short walk 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.

For the walk directions click here. For a map, a height profile, gpx/kml files and photos click here.
The lunch pub on any of the long walk options is The Red Lion in Avebury (18.1 km/11.2 mi), 
the one on the short walk is The Who'd A Thought It in Lockeridge (9.7 km/6.0 mi).
For the tea options in Avebury and Pewsey check page 2 of the walk directions.


Thomas G said...

accomodation booked

Thomas G said...

bluebells explained:

Unknown said...

Where and at what time can I meet for the Sunday walk?

Thomas G said...

9.30 outside the Red Lion in Avebury.

Thomas G said...

Then we'll do the Windmill Hill loop, which takes about an hour, and pass the pub again.

Stargazer said...

n=10 bleary-eyed walkers (including 2 first-timers) emerged from the train at Pewsey station probably before many other walkers had even left London on Saturday into w=bright-breezy-sunshine-with-a-few-passing-clouds. Weather conditions could not have been much better for this magical journey through the heartland of Britain's Neolithic past. The group set off together -- but split early on at a peaceful clearing in the heart of West Woods -- one setting off for the full Pewsey circular, three doing some off-piste bluebell exploration and the rest continuing on to Avebury. The bluebells in West Woods certainly lived up to their billing -- even the official SWC Bluebell Monitor commented that it was a very good bluebell wood (and made various notes on his map)....Having taken longer in the wood, we sampled the fare at the early pub before heading across the ancient landscape of Fyfield Down Sarsen Stones Field, littered with numerous large stones of the type used in Neolithic monuments (sometimes looking a bit like stationary sheep)....and even more bluebells brightly visible in a small wood slightly off-piste. Arriving in Avebury, it was a delight to have some number of hours to have tea at a NT museum cafe then leisurely explore the surrounding area. The updated walk instructions provide a great guide to visit the most interesting sites in and around the village -- which, today at least, even included a crop circle in an oilseed rape field....visible en route to the always mysterious Silbury Hill (UFO landing pad, stage for ancient ceremonies, a hiding place for a secret laboratory???). Finding ourselves enjoying the fading sun atop the West Kennet Long Barrow at 6:00pm we took a shortcut route back to the Red Lion for an early dinner where we caught up with some of the advance party before they set off for their evening accommodation. After dinner 4 of us communed further with the Stones in the light of a fading sunset and caught the late 20:35 bus to Swindon where we caught the 21:30 back to London -- for those of us taking advantage of the information provided on advance tickets -- the train tickets (out and back) totaled less than 20 pounds.....a great value for such an epic outing....