North Wessex Downs and the Vale of Pewsey
26.7 km (16.6 miles)
OS Landranger 173; Explorer 157
7 out of 10.
This is an exhilarating excursion through the solitude of the Vale of Pewsey, which separates the chalk upland of the North Wessex Downs to the north from that of Salisbury Plain to the south, including an ascent up the southerly hill chain of the Marlborough Downs, from where there are stunning far views in all directions over this land of wave-like hills, with its scarps, ridges and valleys. It is a mysterious landscape, full of pre-historic earthworks and hillforts as well as barrows – burial mounds of kings and warriors. Part of the walk leads along the Wansdyke – an earth bank and deep ditch running east to west – which sporadically links Bristol to Marlborough. It was built by the beleaguered Romano-British Celts – after being deserted by the Romans in the 5th century – as a fortification to stem the Saxon advance. From there it is just a short walk to Wiltshire’s highest peak (Milk Hill) with its stunning steep serrated Down and then to the Alton Barnes White Horse – cut into the hillside in 1812. After a scenic descent into the Vale of Pewsey, an undemanding stretch along the Kennet & Avon Canal leads back to Pewsey with its tea options.
Shortcuts reduce the rating of this walk to 6/10 or even 5/10.
Pewsey Station is on the Berkshire and Hampshire line, served by Intercity trains between London and the West Country. The journey time is about 60 minutes. Pewsey is outside the Network South East Area, necessitating split journey tickets at either Reading or Newbury if using the Network Railcard.
Saturday Walkers Club: Take the train closest to 08.00 hours or the train closest to 10.00 hours.
Two Shortcuts are possible: they reduce the walk by 3.5 km (2.1 mi) or by 3.4 km (2.1 mi) respectively, the ascent/descent by 73m or 67m respectively and the rating to 6/10 respectively; or to 5/10 when walking both Shortcuts (resulting in a 19.8 km/12.3 mi walk).
|Lunch and Tea||
The Honeystreet Mill Café Honeystreet Mill, Pewsey Vale, SN9 5PS T: 01672 851 . The Mill Café is located 19.6 km (12.2 mi) into the full walk. Open 09.00-17.00 Mon-Sat and 10.00-17.00 Sun.
More than a handful of tea options just off-route in Wilcot and in Pewsey. For details see the walk directions pdf.
After the walk, we would love to get your feedback
Out (not a train station)
Back (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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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 wwww.walkingclub.org.uk