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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, 8 August 2020

Saturday Walk - Wiltshire Downlands and Megaliths: Vale of Pewsey to Avebury World Heritage Site (and back)

Length: 36.3 km/22.6 mi
Ascent/Descent: 666m 
Net Walking Time:  ca. 8 ½ hours
Toughness: 10 out of 10

Take the 08.35 Plymouth train from Paddington (09.01 Reading, 09.16 Newbury), arriving Pewsey at 09.34.
Return trains: 17.06, 19.23 and 20.45 (59-63 mins journey time). 

Cheap Advance Single Tickets are still available (25/07/20), else an  Off-Peak Return is £41.50 at full price, and cheaper with Senior, Two Together, etc. (but not Network) Railcards. At the station on the day, you may be able to fetch a slightly cheaper Super Off-Peak Return.
Splitting the ticket is the cheapest option if travelling on a Network Railcard (buy separate London – Newbury [with Network RC discount] and Newbury - Pewsey [without a discount] returns). Note: the 20.45 return train does not stop at Newbury so you’d have to split tickets at Reading if intending to take that train.

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 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 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.

There are four different options to finish the walk in Avebury (for a bus to Swindon [on a different train line]), with a rating of between 5/10 and 10/10. See the pdf or the webpage for details. 

Lunch: The Who’d A Thought It in Lockeridge, 9.7 km (6.0 mi) into the walk. Open from 12.00;
The Red Lion in Avebury, 18.1 km (10.7 mi) into the walk. Open all day every day. Food served all day.
Tea: Plenty of options in Pewsey, for details check the pdf. 

For a detailed route map, gpx/kml file, photos and pdf directions click here. T=swc.255


Thomas G said...

And what a timely walk posting it turns out to be...this from today's papers:
We'll be walking right through that wood and after that through the area where there are still hundreds of the Sarsens lying about.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great walk. May just double check the logistics please.

If I drive to Pewsey and park there, will we finish the walk in the same location?

On that note: anyone wants a lift on Saturday from SE London (Borough of Bromley)

Thank you

Thomas G said...

Hi Anon. Yes, we'll be finishing back in Pewsey. The station car park may be pay and display but there are residential roads very close by, so parking shouldn't be a problem.

Unknown said...

Cant decide between the two walks, both seems interesting. I live in Bromley Borough too, will be nice to make new friends and go to the walk. Let me know if the lift is still available. Thanks

Yuliya said...

Hi there

You are welcome to come in the car too. We are just by Chinese roundabout in Beckenham. Let me know how I can get in touch with you and we can arrange all the details.

Thomas, thank you for the info. Look forward to it.

Mihkar Majeed said...

Hi Yuliya

Apologies, I thought I would get a message on my mailbox. Been a busy Friday hence the late reply. I am in Chislehurst and the trains are not running tomorrow so I may have to give the walk a miss this time.

Hope to meet up in the next walk. Thanks for offering the ride.


Yuliya said...


Wrote you an email.

Thomas, is the walk still on despite the heatwave? Just worried about driving all the way and being the only crazy ones to tackle the heat.


Thomas G said...

sure. heatwave? what heatwave?