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Jay Walking

The Ridgeway

The Ridgeway National Trail is said to be the oldest path in the UK, following an ancient route that has been used for over 5000 years. The Ridgeway itself is only a small part of this ancient route but there are extensions at either end of it that make up The Greater Ridgeway. The Greater Ridgeway itself is make up of four long distance footpaths, The Wessex Ridgeway, The Ridgeway National Trail, the Icknield Way Path and the Peddars Way, it starts at Lyme Regis in Dorset and finishes in Hunstanton on the Norfolk coast.

The Ridgeway itself starts at Overton Hill in Wiltshire and finishes at Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire, covering a total of 87 miles. The walk itself is on a variety of bridleways, footpaths, tracks with some occasional road walking, though it is very well signposted. As the names suggests a lot of the walking is on the actual chalk ridge and this is especially true of the first few days, where the route is mainly on bridleways and there are a number of hill forts and tumuli, heading through mainly farmland. After the village of Goring however the nature of the route changes and there is section along the Thames river and the nature changes to more woodlands and less actual ridge walking, the route is often towards the bottom of the ridge and passes through or near to more villages or towns.

The actual route is a lot less demanding than similar routes such as the South Downs Way with less steep ascents and descents, and it can be walked in either direction. One problem with The Ridgeway is getting to the start or away from the end of the route, neither the start or the end being near to good transport. In fact transport can be a problem throughout the route, though less so at the Eastern side and if you are walking from West to East it is probably easiest to do the section from Overton Hill to Goring over 3 days or even the section from Overton Hill to Princes Risborough

There are a number of guidebooks and maps, I had a copy of the Trailblazers one and used the Cicerone map booklet. I got the copy of the guide from the library and found it useful for planning, it has hand drawn maps which I did not use but the information about the towns, accommodation and transportation are very useful. In addition it is a good source of information about the wildlife and the history of The Ridgeway

Sections walked

Useful links

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