Main Walk : 18.6 miles ( 29.9 km) 1030 ft (314 meters) of ascent
Main walk with shortcut: 26 km
Short walk to Hartwell Science Park: 17 km
Shorter walk to Chilton : 14 km
|Maps||OS Explorer 170 (Abingdon and the Vale of the White Horse)|
|Toughness||5 out of 10. Mostly an easy ridge walk but long, and the path can be very rutted in dry weather and very muddy in wet weather. If you are lucky, it an easy open flat path, navigation is easy (and its waymarked as well) and you'll make very good time, so don't be too put off by the long options.|
This walk follows a section of the Ridgeway National Trail, along an open grassy ridge with good views throughout. There is a short, and a very long version of the walk which follows Britains's oldest road dating back to neolithic times. The long version visits an ancient hill fort.
More recently, The Ridgeway is used by 4 wheel drives in winter, and by horses and mountain bikes year round. This means its surface can be rutted after dry weather, and muddy after wet weather.
The Ridgeway is quite remote, there are no pubs en-route, so bring a packed lunch
The walk starts by the Thames in Goring. It leaves it via a quiet lane. There is an option to avoid a little road walking at the start by detouring via Lough Hill (NT). Both routes meet up futher along the quiet lane.
After 2km, the lane becomes a track and reaches open downland with grass covered gentle hills and good views. It follows the open ridge for 8km / 5 miles to the A34 (motorway). Just before it, there is an option to cut the walk short to Chilton (nice pub, hourly buses to Didcot). This would make a nice winter walk.
Just after the A34, there is an option to finish at Harwell Science Park (regular buses, but no pub to wait in)
Alternatively, for the long walks, continue on along the Ridgeway for 6km / 4 miles. Here there is a shortcut to Wantage, 4km to the north.
The long walk continue on for 4km to Letcombe Castle, an ancient hill fort (free entry). Then its north 4km north to Wantage
From Wantage, a pretty town, there is a bus (via Hartwell Science parke which you walked by earlier) to Didcot Station for regular fast train back to London
Note that the last direct bus from Wantage to Didcot is quite early for such a long walk. Make sure you don't miss it. If you do there are hourly later buses north to Abingdon and either on to Oxford (where you'll need an extra train ticket as well), or change in Abingdon for a bus to Didcot. It'll take an hour longer, and cost a lot more
Long Walks to Wantage : As described abovem there are 2 long walks to Wantage. The longer of the 2 stays on the Ridgeway to visit an ancient hill fort.
Short Walks : The shorter visits a pub, but has fewer buses. The slighly longer walk has better buses but no pub. With a map, you could detour south of the Rideway for lunch in Aldworth (the famous Bell pub) or Compton (Swan Inn, closed at time of writing, "modern bistro rather than country pub")
Trains from London Paddington go to Goring (2 per hour, 1 hour 10 mins direct, 20 mins quicker changing at Reading). Buy a return to Didcot, 1 stop futher down the line.
From Didcot, 4 trains an hour go to London, taking 41 mins
Suggested train : nearest to 9:15 for the long walk, 10:30 for the short walk
Thames Bus #32A from Wantage and Harwell Science Park to Didcot. Buses are hourly, 2 hourly on Sunday, and take 25 mins. Last bus about 18:00 Mon-Fri, 18:30 on Sunday. Buses leave the Science Park about 10 mins after leaving Wantage. The science park
Thames Bus #X32 from Chilton and Harwell Science Park to Didcot. Buses are hourly, 2 hourly on Sundays, and takes 20 mins. Last bus about 18:30 Mon-Sat, 17:30 on Sunday. On Mon-Fri some buses start 1 km further north at the Science Park.
|Lunch and Tea||
No lunch options
Finish in Chilton: The Rose and Crown is a nice place to wait for you bus.
Finish in Wantage: Several pubs to choose from.
Given the buses, Didcot's station pub, the Wethies style Prince of Wales, is probably a better bet
After the walk, we would love to get your feedback
Out (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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