Kintbury to Great Bedwyn walk

Quiet fields before lunch, the Test Way (a long, open, ridge walk, potentially muddy), and a pretty forest walk to return to pretty, canalside Bedwyn.

The North Wessex Downs, England Kintbury to Great Bedwyn walk, The North Wessex Downs, The Test way, Berkshire, England, Europe, swcwalks, book2 walk9, Time Out Country Walks Volume 2, Walk 9, tocw:2:9, Canon 5D, 24-70 lens, _MG_7867_800px

The North Wessex Downs, England

Kintbury to Great Bedwyn walk, The North Wessex Downs, The Test way, Berkshire, England, Europe, swcwalks, book2 walk9, Time Out Country Walks Volume 2, Walk 9, tocw:2:9, Canon 5D, 24-70 lens, _MG_7867_800px

23-Feb-09 • Jim Shannon on Flickr

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The ridge followed in the afternoon

The ridge followed in the afternoon

21-May-05 • Peter Conway on Flickr

swcwalks book2 walk9 36511587893 G-T

Kennet and Avon Canal near Bedwyn

Kennet and Avon Canal near Bedwyn

21-May-05 • Peter Conway on Flickr

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17Sep05 Tree Arbour Kintbury 3

17Sep05 Tree Arbour Kintbury 3

17-Sep-05 • David Cooke on Flickr

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17Sep05 End Of Tree Arbour Kintbury 4

17Sep05 End Of Tree Arbour Kintbury 4

17-Sep-05 • David Cooke on Flickr

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17Sep05 Before 3 33

17Sep05 Before 3 33

17-Sep-05 • David Cooke on Flickr

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17Sep05 Tudor Style Cottage 40

17Sep05 Tudor Style Cottage 40

17-Sep-05 • David Cooke on Flickr

swcwalks book2 walk9 36927425740 G-T

North Wessex Downs and Great Bedwyn


21km (13 miles), 6 ½ hours. For the whole outing, including trains and meals, allow 10 hours.


OS Landranger Map No 174, OS Explorer Map Nos 157 & 158 (most of the walk is on 158) Kintbury, map reference SU 386 672, is in Berkshire, 8km west of Newbury.


5 out of 10


Though only an hour west of London by train, this walk has a decidedly West Country feel, far removed from the more manicured charms of the Home Counties. In the morning, it passes through an idyllic series of woods and pastures, with largely gentle gradients.

It then climbs up to Inkpen Hill (290m), and follows a long ridge, giving views as dramatic, but even more unspoiled, than any on the South Downs.

The rest of the walk follows the Test Way, a broad track along the top of this ridge, before descending to the valley and the pretty village of Great Bedwyn.

Walk Options

Shortcut: At point [6] below continue down the road for 1.8km to reach the Plough Inn (tel 01672 870295), Shalbourne which shortens the walk by 4.2km. There is an infrequent bus service (T:0871 200 2233, between Marlborough and Hungerford, which stops at the Plough Inn. Bus no. 20 Mon - Sat, no. 22 Mon - Fri. Head east for Hungerford (one stop up the line from Bedwyn) or west for Marlborough via Bedwyn. Alternatively you could order a taxi.

Kintbury circular walk: 23km (14.3 miles) (See Kintbury Circular download above). These directions provide a circular walk from Kintbury, when used in conjunction with the standard walk directions. The morning route to the top of Inkpen Hill is the same, but then it heads east along the ridge to the slightly higher Walbury Hill (297m), the highest in south east England. It then descends towards Inkpen Common passing the Star and Garter pub on the way. On via Hampstead Marshall and the White Hart Inn, passing Hampstead Park and it's picturesque church to The Kennet and Avon Canal, which it follows back to Kintbury.

Kintbury circular walk with shortcut: 17.5 (10.9 miles). As above as far as Inkpen Common, but then cuts out the loop via Hamstead Park and the Canal.


This walk begins and ends at villages standing on one of the loveliest stretches of the Kennet and Avon canal. Completed in 1810 to carry goods from London to Bristol, the canal became derelict after the advent of the railways, but was later restored to provide a useful leisure amenity.

Kintbury is known for the St Cassian's Centre, a Christian Retreat for young people. Following the example of Baptist de La Salle (1651-1719) the Centre teaches leadership skills founded on faith, service and community. 

Bedwyn Brail A Roman Villa was discovered here in 1780 in the present day Bedwyn Brail, near to the line of the Roman road from Cirencester to Winchester. However, the earliest reference to a settlement at Bedwyn dates from 778, in a land grant from King Cynewulf of Wessex

St Mary's Great Bedwyn The present church of St Mary's was started in 1092, and took about 200 years to build. Beneath the church are the massive remains of a Saxon church begun in 905. The south transept houses the 14th Century tombs of Sir Adam de Stokke and his son, Sir John. In the chancel is a memorial to Edward Seymour, father of King Henry VIII's wife Jane, and later Lord Protector to the young Edward VI.

Great Bedwyn Despite the antiquity of many of the buildings, few in Great Bedwyn were built before the 18th century. Among the exceptions is Castle Cottage in Farm Lane, which dates from the 17th century and is one of the oldest dwellings still standing. A devastating fire occurred in the village in 1716, and destroyed or severely damaged twenty-eight houses. This explains why many of the older properties date from the middle of the 18th Century


Suggested Train: Take the train nearest to 9.30am (before or after) from London Paddington. You may have to change at Reading or Newbury. Journey time 1 hour 10 minutes. Trains back from Great Bedwyn run about once an hour. Journey time 1 hour 26 minutes. Buy a day return to Great Bedwyn.

By car: Car drivers can park at Kintbury station and return to their cars on the train from Great Bedwyn

  • The original lunchtime pub, the Swan Inn in Lower Inkpen is closed. It was the only option on the main walk.
  • If going on the Kintbury circular walk, main or with shortcut, then The Crown and Garter after 13.5km is a suitable lunch stop.
  • Further on, The White Hart in Hampstead Marshall is 6.5km from the end of the main circular walk,
  • Picnic Many places along the route, especially the summit of Inkpen Hill, would make a good picnic spot.
  • Main Walk: The Three Tuns (tel 01672 870280) in Great Bedwyn is open all day Fri - Sun and tea and coffee are always available. Mon - shut all day. On other days the pub closes in the afternoon but reopens at 6pm when tea and coffee and meals are available.
  • Kintbury Circular: The Dundas Arms, RG17 9UT, on the canal, right by the station. Open all day Wed-Sun. Food after 6pm and all day Sun.

This walk was originally published in Time Out Country Walks near London volume 2. We now recommend using this online version as the book is dated.

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By Train

Out (not a train station)

Back (not a train station)

By Car

Start RG17 9UT Map Directions Return to the start:

Finish SN8 5RD Map Directions Travel to the start:


National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234


Sep-18 DAC

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Walk Directions  

Full directions for this walk are in a PDF file (link above) which you can print, or download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.

This is just the introduction. This walk's detailed directions are in a PDF available from