Wandsdyke in the evening sun

SWC Walk 127 Pewsey Circular

26-Sep-15 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

swcwalks swcwalk127 walkicon banner

Westerly Views from Huish Hill

SWC Walk 127 Pewsey Circular

08-Aug-15 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

walkicon swcwalks swcwalk127

Oare Hill with Giant's Grave

SWC Walk 127 Pewsey Circular

26-Sep-15 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

walkicon swcwalks swcwalk127

Cows at bottom of Milk Hill

SWC Walk 127 Pewsey Circular

26-Sep-15 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

walkicon swcwalks swcwalk127

First View of Oare Hill

SWC Walk 127 Pewsey Circular

08-Aug-15 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

swcwalks swcwalk127

Oare Hill (Detail) with Giant's Grave

SWC Walk 127 Pewsey Circular

08-Aug-15 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

swcwalks swcwalk127

Huish Hill

SWC Walk 127 Pewsey Circular

08-Aug-15 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

swcwalks swcwalk127

Pewsey Circular walk

North Wessex Downs and the Vale of Pewsey

History

This is a list of previous times this walk has been done by the club (since Jan 2010). For more recent events (since April 2015), full details are shown.

Date # Post
Sun, 04-Mar-18 8

Sunday Walk - Pewsey Vale and Marlborough Downs: Pewsey Circular

Length: 26.1 km (16.2 mi) [shortcuts possible, see below]
Ascent/Descent: 370 m
Net Walking Time: ca. 6 hours
Toughness: 7 out of 10
Take the 09.57 Plymouth train from Paddington (10.32 Reading), arriving Pewsey at 11.03.
Return trains: 16.11 (77 mins), 18.13 (77 mins) or 22.00 (88 mins)
Buy a Pewsey return (the full undiscounted off-peak price is £39.20, but it’s of course cheaper with Railcards, and in any case cheaper if you buy separate return tickets London-Reading and Reading-Pewsey). !! For example, if you are using a Network Railcard, you buy a discounted London-Reading return and a separate off-peak Reading-Pewsey return for a total cost of £29.30 !! The costs are lower for other railcards.
Advance Tickets shave off a few quid for all of these combinations, but they tie you to a fixed return train, of course. Your choice…

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.
After a scenic descent back into the Vale of Pewsey, a tea option exists in the hamlet of Honeystreet. Finally, an undemanding stretch along the Kennet & Avon Canal leads back to Pewsey.
Two Shortcuts on the downs are possible: they reduce the walk by 3.5 km (2.1 mi) or 3.4 km (2.1 mi) and the rating to 6/10; or to 5/10 when walking both Shortcuts (19.2 km/305m height gain). See route map and pdf for details.
Note 1: this is not Pewsey Circular (via Avebury), there are no standing stones on this walk.
Note 2: there is no lunch pub en route, so prepare for picnic on the Downs, then tea in Honeystreet and/or Pewsey.
For summary, walk directions, map, height profile, photos and gpx/kml files click here.
The en route café in Honeystreet is now shut due to being too successful (!!!), read here. 2 minutes away is The Barge Inn (19.8 km/12.3 mi, food to 17.00), which used to market itself as ‘Crop Circle Central’ but seems to be a more serious enterprise these days. For the tea and dinner options en route to and in Pewsey check page 2 of the walk directions pdf. T=swc.127
What a day! You wait for years for a snowy walk, and here we finally got one.
From the train window (only slightly delayed), the hills didn't look to have that much snow cover at all, but then we encountered some knee deep snow drifts on the first farm track beyond the Kennet & Avon Canal. Energy sapping fun.
Up onto the ridge (half went left for the short walk, the other half right for the full walk) with the sun now out and together with a cold but not uncomfortable breeze giving us the best winter walk scenario. As we turned west along the ridge (after passing through some lovely woods) there was another snow drift heavy farm track, this time more than knee deep, so much so that the wellie equipped walker suffered some snow ingress. The weather stayed dry until about 13.30, when we stopped for our picnic lunch (we had seen the short walkers disappear from the spot as we arrived). From then on it was more typical winter weather: passing clouds with showers coming down left and right, and often also where we were. The showers being rain and/or hail, often followed by some stunning rainbows (one of them the longest lasting and most complete and vivid I have ever seen).
We eventually caught the shortcutters just where the afternoon shortcut branched off from the main walk, and all of them took that shortcut. On up to the Wansdyke and around back into Pewsey Downs Nature Reserve and to Milk Hill, a truely stunning Down. Alton Barnes White Horse was completely covered in snow, so we just had to imagine it's shape based on the fence surrounding it.
A holloway on the descent to Alton Priors was then full of snow to man height, so we circumvented it along a field boundary, before checking out the Saxon Church. With the cafe in Honeystreet shut, we had planned on popping in to the pub there for refreshments, alas it is now shut as well (and as the short walkers found out from the taxi driver they had ordered to pick them up there: it is shut for good, to be developed into housing).
We then embarked on the 'easy' finish along the canal back to Pewsey, only to be surprised to find [A] the canal largely frozen (frozen enough to have swans standing on the ice w/o breaking through) and [B] lots of snow drifts along the northerly embankment, at one point about a metre deep and necessitating a diversion over barbed wire into a field...
We got to Pewsey with enough time before the 18.13 train (the shortcutters had taken the [delayed] 16.11) to have a drink at The Waterfront Inn, and then as the train was delayed by 45 minutes as well another one at The Royal Oak.
Buffet Car on the train, lots of seats and a working heating system. A well deserved finish to an extraordinary day in Wiltshire. 8 sunny initially then overcast with rain and hail showers.
Further online research regarding The Barge Inn reveals that the lease had been sold in 2016 and the new owners had embarked on a refurbisment and repositioning of the pub (more serious food offerings, less hippy esk focus on crop circles). But a subsequent planning permission to turn a neighbouring barn into housing and the pub into a wine bar/restaurant was turned down in Dec 2017, so they have now shut the (still loss making) pub and put if up for sale. There is a local initiative to find the funds to buy it for the community and preserve it as a pub.
Magnificent, inspiring report. Well done all who walked.
Mon, 02-May-16 9

Bank Holiday Monday Second Walk - Vale of Pewsey and Marlborough Downs. Far Views. No Bluebells

SWC Walk 127 – Pewsey Circular
Length: 26.1 km (16.2 mi) [shortcuts possible, see below]
Ascent/Descent: 444 m
Net Walking Time: ca. 6 hours
Toughness: 8 out of 10
Take the 10.57 Plymouth train from Paddington (11.33 Reading), arriving Pewsey at 12.02
Only just missed the 10.57? Take the 11.00 Bristol Temple Meads train to Reading (arr. 12.26) and change there…
Return trains: 17.12 (80 mins), 19.29 (82 mins) or 21.22 (90 mins)
Buy a Pewsey return (the full price is £37.20, but it's cheaper if you buy separate return tickets London-Reading and Reading-Pewsey)!! And as Pewsey is just outside the Network Southeast Area: if you are using a Network Railcard, buy a discounted London-Reading return and an off-peak Reading-Pewsey return, which saves you £10.30 vs the full price!! Split tickets can not be bought at the machines in the station, only online or at the ticket counter.
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.
After a scenic descent back into the Vale of Pewsey, tea options exist in the hamlet of Honeystreet. Finally, an undemanding stretch along the Kennet & Avon Canal leads back to Pewsey.
Note 1: this is not SWC 255 Pewsey Circular (via Avebury), there are no standing stones on this walk.
Note 2: there is no lunch pub en route with this late start, so prepare for picnic on the Downs, then tea in Honeystreet and/or Pewsey.
Two Shortcuts are possible: they reduce the walk by 3.5 km (2.1 mi) or 3.4 km (2.1 mi) and the rating to 6/10; or to 5/10 when walking both Shortcuts (19.2 km/305m height gain).
For the walk directions click here. For a map, a height profile, gpx/kml files, and some photos click here.
The en route cafe is The Honeystreet Cafe (18.8 km/11.7 mi), 4 mins away is The Barge Inn (19.2 km/12.0 mi), it markets itself as ‘Crop Circle Central’ and attracts plenty of folk that are interested in all things otherworldly (plus some weary walkers). The pub has re-opened on April 21 after a Mgmt change and a subsequent lengthy refurb.
For the tea and dinner options in Pewsey check page 2 of the walk directions pdf.
T=swc.127
Could not ONE of the bank holiday walks been under 13 miles, for those who want a more relaxing day out?
To quote the text of the posting: "Two Shortcuts are possible: they reduce the walk by 3.5 km (2.1 mi) or 3.4 km (2.1 mi) and the rating to 6/10; or to 5/10 when walking both Shortcuts (19.2 km/305m height gain)." How is that not below 13 miles? Puzzled...
AND with a very late start! How is that NOT a relaxing day out? Even more puzzled...
There are lots of people who want the security of walkng within a group and are not confident about tackling a short cut on their own. Last week one of the attendees for the Ullapool trip had just bought a compass but needed to be shown how to use it! This army range walk is a complete nightmare if you don't have a compass and map to back up the walk directions as there is no signage to guide you. And yes lots of people prefer shorter organised walks at a relaxed pace that they can tackle with friends or with physical stamina issues!
very brave of you to promote a walk with no bluebells and no lunch pub on a may bank holiday monday. could we not at least have some anemones to feed the soul. ta very much
Well... of course I can't guarantee that there won't be the odd blue ish bell or wood ish anemone, as there are some small stretches of woodland en route, but they certainly aren't the main draw of this outing.
'tis a walk for the often very vocal army of long sleepers/extended breakfasters (this late train only runs on Sundays/Bank Holidays, and I don't have slots on Sundays), for the picnicers, the far viewers and the walkers. Just a good walk, in stunning, remote countryside, with plenty of refreshment options late on. That's all there is to it. But no less than that.
9 w= selection of all four seasons including high winds and torrential rain on the ridge. A cracking day despite some afore mentioned awful weather. loads of bluebells. Strenuous but not lethal hilly bits and some nice views. All washed down with pre walk alcohol, picnic lunch, good cake, beer and picnic on train home
Sat, 10-Oct-15 8

Saturday Third Walk – Fully Revised: The Solitude of the Vale of Pewsey and the Marlborough Downs



SWC Walk 127 – Pewsey Circular
Length: 26.1 km (16.2 mi) [shortcuts possible, see below]
Ascent/Descent: 444 m
Net Walking Time: ca. 6 hours
Toughness: 8 out of 10
First posting of this former map-lead walk, which has now been enlarged and fully written up.
We will take the opportunity to check the walk directions.


Take the 08.18 Exeter St. David's train from Paddington (08.48 Reading), arriving Pewsey at 09.39

Pewsey suffers from an infrequent train service, explaining the very early start (the next departure is at 11.06...)
Return trains: 16.25 hours (86 minutes journey time) or 20.23 hours (69 mins journey time)
Buy a Pewsey return ticket. !! But as Pewsey is just outside the Network Southeast Area: if you are using a Network Railcard, buy a discounted Reading return ticket and a separate full-price Reading-Pewsey return, which saves you about £10 vs the full return price!!
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.
After a scenic descent back into the Vale of Pewsey, the lunch options come very late in the hamlet of Honeystreet, but food is served all afternoon. Finally, an undemanding stretch along the Kennet & Avon Canal leads back to Pewsey with its many tea and dinner options.
Two Shortcuts are possible: they reduce the walk by 3.5 km (2.1 mi) or by 3.4 km (2.1 mi) respectively and the ascent/descent by 73m or 67m respectively. Taking one shortcut reduces the rating to 6/10; taking both reduces the rating to 5/10 (resulting in a 19.2 km/305m height gain-walk).
For more details and for the walk directions click here.
For a map, a height profile, gpx/kml files, and some photos click here.
The lunch cafe is The Honeystreet Cafe (18.8 km/11.7 mi), the lunch pub is The Barge Inn (19.2 km/12.0 mi), it markets itself as ‘Crop Circle Central’ and attracts plenty of folk that are interested in all things otherworldly (plus some weary walkers).
For the tea and dinner options in Pewsey check page 2 of the walk directions.

For anyone having been on the other Pewsey walk (SWC 255) on Sep 26 and considering walking this as well: this walk overlaps at the start (3 km to close to Oare), for a short part of the ridge walk (1.5 km), the stunning stretch from Milk Hill past the White Horse to Adam's Grave (1.5 km) and the final stretch along the canal and into Pewsey (2.8 km).
T=swc.127
L=swc.127
Intend going.
8 overcast+and+dry+and+pleasantly cool

8 off the train at Pewsey. One was along for a short walk and parted ways with us a couple of hours into the walk to catch an early afternoon train to London. This is a very nice walk with lots of interesting ancient features and fine views. In my opinion, you get a lot of great views for what felt like not too much effort, with the steepest climb early on in the walk. I found the section through Pewsey Downs National Reserve really lovely.

Picnic lunch for 4 and 3 for lunch at The Barge Inn where the food was decent. Unfortunately, but not a surprise given the amount of paranormal activity in the area, one walker disappeared at this point. Remaining 6 backtracked to the Honeystreet Cafe for very nice cake and tea (worth doing) and then took it easy on the final stretch along the canal. As we had lots of time, stopped for refreshments at the Golden Swan in Wilcot (320m off route). Very pleasant along the canal with the leaves on the trees beginning to turn colour and nice reflections in the still water.

The group enjoyed a few scoops of ale and cider at the Shed Alehouse (worth visiting) in Pewsey. Followed by further refreshments at the Crown Inn. Caught the 20:36 back to London. A very good walk that was worth the trip from London and the early start. Recommended.
Argh. Messed up the weather report.

overcast and dry and pleasantly cool
The otherworldly artefact spotted in a field near Oare Hill can be located by the shadow it casts in this aerial view. It does not however appear on any official maps. An extensive search of the internet has revealed that Robert Hiscox privately commissioned a "millennium arch" from sculptor and "environmentalist" Andy Goldsworthy reputedly made from 90 tonnes of sandstone, with half of it constructed in 1999 and the other half in 2000. The purpose of the structure is unknown.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Wed, 13-Jul-11 Pewsey Circular