Great Bedwyn - Savernake Forest - Marlborough - Linear

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This walk, which was originally contributed by Ron & Jenny Glynn, has been fully revised by Richard Clayton, to whom the walk has now been reallocated. Our thanks to Ron & Jenny and to Richard.

Completely re-written in July 2010, this is designed as a one-way only walk from Great Bedwyn railway station, on the Paddington-Taunton line, to the historic Georgian town of Marlborough, taking in Savernake Forest. Your return can be by bus, with a regular service provided by Somerset and Dorset. Or you could do it the other way around, walk from Marlborough to Great Bedwyn and bus back.

Great Bedwyn is an interesting village. There is a post office, a master baker, and two pubs, both providing food, and an interesting church.

Leaving Bedwyn, you head north-west across a deer-park in the grounds of Tottenham Park, and then enter the southern edge of Savernake Forest. Savernake Forest was used as an ammunition dump by both the British and US Armies during the Second World War, and there were at least two significant explosions in 1945-6. The remote St Katharine's Church is en route and is worth a visit – you can see the repairs needed after one explosion!

Tottenham Park and Savernake Forest are owned by the Earl of Cardigan and his family trust. The Forest extends to some 4,500 acres, and is the only-privately owned forest in Britain. Much of its timber rights are leased to the Forestry Commission. Running right through the middle of the forest is Capability Brown's Grand Avenue. This avenue of beech trees - now a private road - was laid out in the late 1790's, and at just over 4 miles long it stands in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest avenue in Britain.

Although it is private property, Savernake Forest's owners permit extensive public access. Walkers may walk where they like, though you are asked to respect the few signs protecting the various groups of private houses scattered through the Forest.

Marlborough itself is a market town on the Old Bath Road, known now as the A4. Following the Great Fire of Marlborough, in 1653, which destroyed almost the entire town, the rebuilt High Street is the second widest of any town in England, ideal for holding the twice-weekly local market. On the north side of the High Street is the Merchant's House, built following the Great Fire, which still has its original internal layout. At the west end of the High Street is the redundant 15th century Church of St Peter and St Paul, and at the east end, behind the Town Hall, is the Church of St Mary. Between the two churches are some of England's most magnificent Grade II Georgian buildings.

See Additional Information for internet sources.

England - South England - Wiltshire - Marlborough

Features

Ancient Monument, Birds, Cafe, Church, Flowers, Food Shop, Gift Shop, Good for Kids, Great Views, Mostly Flat, Museum, Pub, Public Transport, Restaurant, Tea Shop, Toilets, Wildlife, Woodland

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