Length: 26.8 km (16.7 mi) [shortcuts possible, see below]
Ascent/Descent: 382 m
Net Walking Time: ca. 6 hours
Toughness: 7 out of 10
One of my favourites, with the known downsides of infrequent and often very early trains, of being outside the Network Southeast, and of having no lunch options. But the scenery…!
And now with a late outbound train! And with several return trains to choose from!
Take the 10.33 Paignton train from Paddington (11.00 Reading, 11.21 Newbury), arriving Pewsey at 11.40.
Return trains: 16.32 (82 mins, stops Newbury), 17.02 (65 mins), 19.29 (68 mins, stops Newbury) or 21.24 (73 mins, stops Newbury)
Advance Tickets are currently £9.50 each way (and even cheaper with Railcards other than Network Railcard) but they tie you to a fixed return train, of course. Your choice…
Else, buy a Pewsey return (the full undiscounted off-peak price is £40,40, but it’s of course cheaper with Railcards, and in any case cheaper if you buy separate return tickets London-Newbury and Newbury-Pewsey, or – if travelling on the 17.02 return train – London-Reading and Reading-Pewsey).
!! For example, if you are using a Network Railcard, you buy a discounted London-Newbury return and a separate off-peak Newbury-Pewsey return (and travel back on the trains that DO stop at Newbury) for a total cost of £26,40!! The costs are lower for other railcards.
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 new tea option has sprung up in the hamlet of Honeystreet (on the other side of the road from the old café). 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.
Tea: Honeystreet Mill Café
(19.6 km/12.2 mi, open to 17.00), plus one other en route
and several others
; check page 2 of the walk directions pdf.
, walk directions
, height profile
and gpx/kml files