Long walk. Gentle start via historic Salisbury, the Chalke Valley, pretty villages. Strenuous afternoon via the Downs, a Roman Road, and a noted Water Meadows view of the Cathedral
|Length||32.2 km (20.0 mi), of which 8.2 km (5.1 mi) on tarmac or concrete (about half of it in Salisbury). Cumulative ascent/descent: 460m. For a shorter walk, see below Walk options.|
|Toughness||9 out of 10 Time: 7 ¼ hours walking time. For the whole outing, including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 11 ½ hours.|
|OS Map||OS Landranger Map: 184 (Salisbury & The Plain) OS Explorer Map: 130 (Salisbury & Stonehenge)|
This long walk explores the Chalke Valley in the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to the South West of the quintessentially English Cathedral City of Salisbury. It leads out of town through the Cathedral precinct, past some of England’s finest historic houses and through the Harnham Hill suburb into open fields with far views over the Chalke Valley to distant Downs. The morning route then largely follows the Ebble River upstream in the Chalke Valley through several pretty villages in this picturesque part of Wiltshire, with three good lunch pubs and two community stores conveniently spaced out along the route.
Most of the climbing is left for the afternoon, starting with a steady ascent with splendid views into pretty coombes, from Broad Chalke up to an ancient Ox Drove on top of the Downs. A long stretch with more views from the Down into coombes and valleys follows, largely along the course of a Roman Road, before the descent back into the Chalke Valley, followed by an immediate re-ascent up another Down. A Drove Track with views into the Nadder and Wylye Valleys leads past Salisbury’s Race Course and through the steep Harnham Slope Nature Reserve to tea at Harnham’s charming Old Mill.
From there the route back to the station goes through the town’s Water Meadows and provides ‘Britain’s Best View’ (Country Life magazine): Salisbury Cathedral across the meadows.
Shorter routes, reducing the length considerably, are described.
There are two mutually exclusive Shortcuts around lunch:
Bus 29 Shaftesbury to Salisbury City Centre (10 mins walk from the train station) runs through the Chalke Valley and stops outside all three lunch pubs as well as in the village of Stratford Tony (opp. Manor Farm), half-way through the afternoon (about every 90 mins, but Mon-Sat only).
Cutting out the outer loop of this figure-of-8 walk and turning back in Stratford Tony, reduces the length to 17.0 km/10.6 mi.
|Travel||Salisbury Station is on the London Waterloo to Exeter St. Davids West of England Main Line. Journey times are 82 or 90 minutes Monday to Saturday (half-hourly) and 90 minutes on Sunday (hourly). Saturday Walkers’ Club: Take the train closest to 9.20 hours. Bus 29 Shaftesbury to Salisbury City Centre (10 mins walk from the train station) runs through the Chalke Valley and stops outside all three lunch pubs (about every 90 mins, but Mon-Sat only).|
|Lunch and Tea||
The Fox & Goose Blandford Road, Coombe Bissett, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP5 4LE (01722 718 437). The Fox & Goose is located 7.1 km (4.4 mi) into the walk. Opening Times: Mon-Sat 11.00-23.00 and Sun 12.00-22.30. Food Service: Mon-Sun 12.00-21.00. Home cooked food with daily chalkboard Specials is served in this Village Freehouse.
The Old Mill at Harnham West Harnham, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP2 8EU (01722 327 517). Open 10.00-23.00 daily. Food served 12.00-15.00 and 18.00-21.00 daily. The Old Mill Hotel is located 1.0 km from the end of the walk, in a 15th century building with features dating back to 1250. From its early ecclesiastical beginnings, it was transformed in the 16th century to a paper mill. The hotel is Grade I-listed in parts and stands in a most peaceful and stunning location above 3 mill-runs off the River Nadder. It has a large garden at the back along the millstream.
For all other options please consult page 2 of the pdf.
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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