|OS Route Map →||GPX Route file →|
Date: 07 Oct 2002
Start / Finish: Tring.
Maps: Ridgeway Trail Guide, Aurum Press. The map sections were scanned and printed to A4 - total weight 35g.
|Day 1||Avebury, Overton Hill & Barbury Castle||10 miles (16.1km)|
|Day 2||Fox Hill & White Horse Hill||23 miles (37.0km)|
|Day 3||Bury Down, Goring & Grims Ditch||22 miles (35.4km)|
|Day 4||Lodge Hill & Princes Risborough||19 miles (30.6km)|
|Day 5||Coombe Hill, Wendover & Ivinghoe Beacon||18 miles (29.0km)|
We backpacked the Ridgeway as a complete contrast to the hills on a forecast of mainly dry but very cloudy weather.
We parked in Tring as the rail station is close by, although it would mean an out-and-back to Ivinghoe Beacon at the end but without the packs. We travelled to the other end of the trail right away and walked back S to N, getting the transport behind us. The journey was by train from Tring to Euston / tube to Paddington / inter-city to Swindon / bus to Avebury - all painless and punctual, arriving in Avebury at 14:35. From Avebury we followed the White Horse Trail to Overton Hill and the start of the Ridgeway National Trail
We had heard that the Ridgeway was constantly in use not only by walkers but motorcycles, 4x4s, horses and so on. In the whole 5 days we saw no motorised vehicles at all and, incredibly, only one other walker on the trail itself. Our only other encounter was a trio of cyclists who passed our tent one evening with their headlamps wavering eerily in the dark.
This report was written long after the walk, but we have collected some notes that may be useful to backpackers. The taps provided on the first half of the route are a godsend, avoiding the need for detours to shops. There are several places on the route in the second half to buy water.
We carried water from the start on this half-day. Barbury Castle has a toilet block. We pitched on Smeathes Ridge with a lovely sunset to round off the first day.
Tap 1 is at 198734. Just after crossing the A346 a short way up the track, the tap is on the outside wall of a house.
Tap 2 is at 264835, we can't remember it now but it must have been obvious.
Tap 3 is at 338855 as stated in the guide book. We previously thought that this tap was further along around 342853, but a reader who lives in Wantage and walks this section regularly has determined that the guide book is correct, so our original assessment (made from memory long after the walk) must have been in error.
We pitched on Ridgeway Down.
Tap 4 a little E of the plantation at 430845 is for animal use only, according to the guide.
Streatley is residential, the first shops on the route are in Goring.
Tap 5 is at 668873 on the wall of Nuffield parish church, where a sign on the road welcomes Ridgeway walkers.
The Chilterns area is notable for the release of Red Kites some years ago and we were rewarded with two very clear sightings, the first was N of Shirburn Hill approaching the M40 where a farmer was tractoring his field. It was gliding over the field and in a spellbinding display came very close to us, showing its deep russet colour and grey head. The area also has very fine beech woods.
We restocked in Princes Risborough and made a good pitch between Whorley Wood and Maple Wood. Chequers may seem uncomfortably close but we were not disturbed by smart heavies with guns!.
Passing the watchful security cameras at Chequers, we climbed Coombe Hill and Bacombe Hill and descended to Wendover and Tring, then we dumped our packs and walked to Ivinghoe Beacon and back.
A very different kind of walk for us and a pleasant change.