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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

Friday, 19 April 2019

Good Friday - Pewsey Vale, Marlborough Downs and some bluebell woods: Pewsey Circular [Late Start]

Length: 26.8 km (16.7 mi) [shortcuts possible, see below]
Ascent/Descent:  382 m
Net Walking Time: ca. 6 hours
Toughness:  7 out of 10 

One of my favourites, with the known downsides of infrequent and often very early trains, of being outside the Network Southeast, and of having no lunch options. But the scenery…!
And now with a late outbound train! And with several return trains to choose from!

Take the 10.33 Paignton train from Paddington (11.00 Reading, 11.21 Newbury), arriving Pewsey at 11.40.
Return trains: 16.32 (82 mins, stops Newbury), 17.02 (65 mins), 19.29 (68 mins, stops Newbury) or 21.24 (73 mins, stops Newbury)

Advance Tickets are currently £9.50 each way (and even cheaper with Railcards other than Network Railcard) but they tie you to a fixed return train, of course. Your choice…
Else, buy a Pewsey return (the full undiscounted off-peak price is £40,40, but it’s of course cheaper with Railcards, and in any case cheaper if you buy separate return tickets London-Newbury and Newbury-Pewsey, or – if travelling on the 17.02 return train – London-Reading and Reading-Pewsey).
!! For example, if you are using a Network Railcard, you buy a discounted London-Newbury return and a separate off-peak Newbury-Pewsey return (and travel back on the trains that DO stop at Newbury) for a total cost of £26,40!! The costs are lower for other railcards. 

Exhilarating excursion through the solitude of the Vale of Pewsey, which separates the chalk upland of the North Wessex Downs to the north from that of Salisbury Plain to the south, including an ascent up the southerly hill chain of the Marlborough Downs, from where there are stunning far views in all directions over this land of wave-like hills, with its scarps, ridges and valleys. It is a mysterious landscape, full of pre-historic earthworks and hillforts as well as barrows – burial mounds of kings and warriors.
After a scenic descent back into the Vale of Pewsey, a new tea option has sprung up in the hamlet of Honeystreet (on the other side of the road from the old café). Finally, an undemanding stretch along the Kennet & Avon Canal leads back to Pewsey.

Two Shortcuts on the downs are possible: they reduce the walk by 3.5 km (2.1 mi) or 3.4 km (2.1 mi) and the rating to 6/10; or to 5/10 when walking both Shortcuts (19.2 km/305m height gain). See route map and pdf for details.

Note 1:  this is not  Pewsey Circular (via Avebury), there are no standing stones on this walk.
Note 2: there is no lunch pub en route, so prepare for picnic on the Downs, then tea in Honeystreet and/or Pewsey.

Lunch: Picnic.
Tea: Honeystreet Mill Café in Honeystreet (19.6 km/12.2 mi, open to 17.00), plus one other en route and several others in Pewsey; check page 2 of the walk directions pdf. 

For summary, walk directions, map, height profile, photos and gpx/kml files click here.  T=swc.127


Anonymous said...

Two advance singles BZ6-Pewsey with SRC Outbound £7.60
Return (19.29 allowing time for dinner) £6.25

Thomas G said...

n=17 walkers off the train, incl. 2 first-timers attracted to the SWC/this walk through our Meetup feed, in w=sunny-warm-with-a-cooling-breeze weather. 2 took both shortcuts, 1 just the afternoon one, the rest walked the main walk route.
The last two outings of this walk had seen snow drifts (03/18) and torrential rain (05/16), so this was the day to average out the longterm trend, as it was a perfect day for walking. The train was packed with staycationers, but most if not all of us had reservations, and the rest found seats. After ascending the ridge, we had bright yellow rape oilseed fields below (although later others were still part-green), large pastures swathed in dandelions, an alley of celandines and several impressive bluebell woods, with carpets of healthy looking tall bluebells, unlike the wilting sorry ones I had seen in the Southeast over the last few walks. Maybe they had more rain out there? Later we had verges of white bluebells and even some very purple looking ones (but were they bluebells, asks the amateur?). The gorse was in bloom, the views were far, the breeze cooled us down a wee bit.
Picnic was had where we caught up with the two morning shortcutters, on a grass bank on the ridge. Skylarks were larking, later a paraglider was seen. The Iron Age and other prehistoric features were admired, all the optional tops were ascended without prompting (the first group to do that) and back in the Vale the Saxon Church and the 1,700 years old yew tree at Alton Priors were viewed.
We got to the Honeystreet Mill Cafe in good time before they closed, and apart from the staff being a bit rushed off their feet at the end of a busy day, this is an impressive cafe, large and with good outdoor space by the canal and a decent selection of cakes, ice cream and drinks (even some local ales).
The long canal ending came in handy as the sun had taken its toll, and the various bits of the group got to Pewsey with about an hour to spare before the 19.29 train. The Royal Oak and the Shed Alehouse were the preferred outlets to quench the inevitable thirst. Some got reinforcements for the train journey home from the SPAR next door to the Shed...
A rather faultless day.