Sparsholt - The Ridgeway - Uffington Castle - Sparsholt

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The walk starts in the quiet village of Sparsholt - yes, there are two Sparsholts and the one in Hampshire with the agricultural college is better known! This one is in Oxfordshire, although to confuse matters it used to be in Berkshire.

The Church of Holy Cross is close to Waymark 1. The Star Inn may interest you more after the walk! The route leaves the village along a quiet road, crosses the B4507 and climbs through farmland and chalk downland up to the Ridgeway. Most of the climbing on this walk takes place in the first hour.

The Ridgeway is a National Trail, 85 miles long, opened in 1973. Starting at Overton Hill near Avebury in Wiltshire, the trail ends at Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire. Much of it follows the ancient chalk ridge route used by prehistoric man.

However, prehistoric man did not have 4x4 vehicles or motorcycles. Walkers who have experienced the peace and quiet and the underfoot conditions of the Ridgeway being adversely affected by off-road vehicles should know that in May 2006, over 22 miles of the trail became 'restricted byways' under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, only open to walkers, cyclists, horse-riders and horse-drawn carriages; see the newsletter in Additional Info'.

This is undoubtedly having a positive effect, but parts of the Ridgeway are still used by vehicles, illegally or otherwise and it is still rutted in places and very muddy at times. But it is well worth it for the view, the hill-fort and the overall satisfaction of a good ten-mile walk!

The highest point of the walk is the summit of White Horse Hill, where you will come across Uffington Castle, an impressive Iron Age hill-fort. If you deviate from your route for a while, below the fort to the north overlooking the vale are the White Horse itself, thought to be the oldest hill figure in Britain and now maintained by English Heritage, plus Dragon Hill; see Additional Information.

The walk descends from the Ridgeway to Woolstone. There is a small 12th Century church here and the White Horse Inn and the route passes some attractive old buildings. With the large village of Uffington a mile away to the north, you follow a series of footpaths eastwards along the vale, back through Kingston Lisle with a third church and third pub. The return leg is pretty easy to navigate but heavy going on clay at times.

You miss Uffington, but you may like to know a little about its former transport links, the Great Western Railway and the Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal; I've included a link to each in Additional Info'. That famous supporter of our railway heritage John Betjeman lived for a while at Uffington and later in Farnborough, further along the Ridgeway (Walk 4624 passes his house there).

England - Central England - Oxfordshire - Ridgeway

Features

Ancient Monument, Birds, Church, Flowers, Great Views, Hills or Fells, Industrial Archaeology, National Trust, Pub, Wildlife, Woodland
04/08/2014 - Chris Pluthero

Great walk. We started at Uffington Castle which I think gives a more spectacular ending and works a little better for a lunch time pub visit however it did mean paying £5 for parking (Free for National Trust members). Blowing Stone pub at Kingston Lisle highly recommended. However probably worth booking at busy times. We arrived at 12 on a sunny Sunday and had the last unreserved table in the garden.

15/01/2012 - Daniel Haines

My wife and I did this walk today. Directions are spot on, although we are relatively new to walking, we managed to follow the route without error. The villages passed on route are pleasing to the eye. Many sightings of red kites and lots of horses in their paddocks along the way made this a pleasant walk for wildlife lovers. There are many great views from the high points along the walk, especially along the ridgeway. An excellent day's walking that presented enough of a challenge to give a sense of achievement at the end.

05/01/2010 - Andrew Long

Another great walk from Richard - challenging but enjoyable. The climbs aren't that bad (I felt the same about WM21) but it does get 'parky' up on the ridgeway in the winter months so do wrap up! The information board in WM5 has gone but there an alternative in WM10. Villages of Woolstone and Kingston Lisle pleasing to the eye.

02/05/2009 - Lucy Goddard

We started this walk from the alternative starting point at Waymark 11 on 31/04/09 (note the £4 per day charge for non-NT members). Easy to follow directions, and lovely views despite almost constant rain! Had a very decent lunch at The Star Inn at Waymark 1, and promised them I'd mention that they're now under new management and serving lunch every day. We also detoured from Waymark 10 to visit Wayland's Smithy - a Neolithic long barrow. This adds an extra couple of miles or so to the walk, but is well worth a look.

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