||36.5 km (22.7 mi), of which 6.5 km (4.1 mi) on tarmac or concrete.
Cumulative ascent/descent: 616m. For an alternative ending in Avebury and a shorter walk, see the Walk Options below
||10 out of 10
||Landranger Map: 173 (Swindon & Devizes); Explorer Map: 157 (Marlborough & Savernake Forest)
This is a strenuous excursion into the heart of Neolithic Wiltshire, a mysterious landscape full of pre-historic earthworks, standing stones, sarsen fields and hillforts as well as barrows – burial mounds of kings and warriors. The route passes through or past four of the most important prehistoric sites in Britain: Fyfield Down Sarsen Stones Field, Avebury Standing Stones and Bank & Ditch Earthworks, Silbury Hill and West Kennett Long Barrow (two other sites, The Sanctuary and Windmill Hill, can be explored on extensions).
You walk out of the beautiful Vale of Pewsey over the southerly ridge of the Marlborough Downs, from where there are stunning far views over this land of wave-like hills, with its scarps, ridges and valleys, before heading through West Woods, England’s best bluebell wood (source: Forestry Commission), to Fyfield Down and Avebury.
Later the walk leads along the Wansdyke, a 5th century earth bank and deep ditch. It was built by the beleaguered Romano-British Celts 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 Down.
After a scenic descent into the Vale of Pewsey an undemanding stretch along the Kennet & Avon Canal leads back to Pewsey.
There are four different options to finish the walk in Avebury, with a rating of between 5/10 and 10/10.
Buses from Bedwyn station enable a start or finish in Marlborough.
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. Marlborough High Street (Lloyds Bank) bus stop is served by lines 20/22 from Bedwyn station, which is in the Network SE area, or from the nearby Great Bedwyn Square.
Saturday Walkers’ Club: Take the train closest to 08.00 hours for the full walk; the train closest to 10.00 hours is an option for the Avebury Endings.
Bus 49 Devizes-Swindon means you can do a ‘Neolithic Highlights’-walk and finish in Avebury (runs roughly hourly Mon-Sat and two-hourly Sun; but requires a separate train ticket Swindon–Reading):
Pewsey to Avebury is 18.1 km long with 352m height gain and rated 5/10;
Pewsey to Avebury plus the Windmill Hill loop is 23.5 km long with 405m height gain and rated 6/10;
Pewsey to West Kennett Long Barrow and back to Avebury via The Sanctuary is 27.1 km long with 526m height gain and rated 8/10;
Pewsey to West Kennett Long Barrow and back to Avebury via The Sanctuary plus the Windmill Hill loop is 32.4 km long with 578m height gain and rated 10/10.
Buses 20/22 (Mon-Sat only) to Marlborough sometimes connect well with trains at Bedwyn station (or the nearby Great Bedwyn Square), which is inside the Network SE and has a frequent service, enabling a start or finish in Marlborough. A valid train ticket reduces the cost to £1 each way.
A Marlborough Circular Walk, incl. all attractions inside Avebury village, is 23.5 km/14.6 mi long.
|B&Bs in or near Avebury
Avebury Lodge High Street, Avebury (01672 539 023)
Dorwyn Manor Swindon Road, Avebury (01672 539 098)
The Haven 13 Truesloe Cottages, Avebury Truesloe (01672 539 846)
Avebury Life 5 Truesloe Cottages, Avebury Truesloe (01672 539 644)
The Old Forge East Kennet (01672 861 686)
|Lunch and Tea
The Who’d A Thought It Lockeridge, Marlborough, Wiltshire, SN8 4EL (01672 861 255). The Who’d A Thought It is located 9.7 km (6.0 mi) into the walk. Open 12.00-15.00 and 18.00-23.00 Mon & Thu-Fri, Sat 12.00-23.00 and Sun 12.00-21.00. Food served 12.00-15.00 & 18.00-21.00 Mon and Thu-Sat and Sun 12.00-16.00. A traditional English village pub.
The Red Lion High Street, Avebury, Marlborough, Wiltshire, SN8 1RF (01672 539 266). The Red Lion is located 18.1 km (10.7 mi) into the walk. Open all day every day. Food served all day every day. The Red Lion was first licensed in 1802 and is nowadays managed by The Old English Inns-chain. It is famous for its 86ft deep well inside the pub which dates back to the 1600's. The Well Room is named after Alexander Keiller who excavated the ancient stone circle surrounding the pub.
Circles Restaurant (at Avebury Museum) Avebury, Marlborough, Wiltshire, SN8 1RF (01672 539 250). The Circles Cafe is located 17.5 km (10.9 mi) into the walk. Opening Times: 10.00-17.30 in summer and 10.00-16.00 in winter.
For tea options in Pewsey or Marlborough please consult pages 2 and 16 of the pdf.