Westbury to Warminster via Imber Range walk
Westbury White Horse, 5 hills (3 of which Iron Age Camps), pristine chalk downland on Salisbury Plain, an abandoned village on the rarely open Imber Range
You must check the Imber (Salisbury Plain) firing range is open before doing this walk.
Open Days are usually: Christmas and New Year, Easter (Good Friday to Easter Monday inclusive) and some weeks in August (usually leading up to the Bank Holiday weekend).
30.3 km (18.8 mi), of which 14.2 km (8.8 mi) on tarmac or concrete. Cumulative ascent/descent: 490/432m. For a shorter walk, see below Walk options.
9 out of 10. Time: 7 hours walking time. For the whole outing, including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 12 hours.
Westbury Station is a stop on the Paddington to Taunton Great Western Main Line, the Bristol to Weymouth Heart of Wessex Line (via Bath Spa) and the occasional service from Waterloo via Salisbury, journey time from 108 mins Mon-Fri, 102 mins Sat and 84 mins Sun. Warminster is a stop on the Bristol to Portsmouth Wessex Main Line (via Bath, Westbury and Salisbury) and also served by occasional direct services to Waterloo, journey time to London from 109 mins Sun-Fri, longer on Saturdays.
Both stations are outside the Network Southeast. Advance booking is recommended, singles or split tickets may be cheaper than a simple return. Take the train closest to 08.00 hours.
OS Landranger Map: 183 (Yeovil & Frome) & 184 (Salisbury & The Plain). OS Explorer Map: 143 (Warminster & Trowbridge)
Bookended by urban stretches through Westbury and Warminster, this walk is a fascinating journey across the Imber Live Firing Range on Salisbury Plain to the abandoned village of Imber, nestled in a secluded wooded downland valley. The Plain is full of pre-historic sites and the Range an accidental wilderness as it’s been MoD property since 1898, out-of-bounds for most of the year apart from short stand downs over Christmas and Easter and for some weeks in August (most years). Either side of the Plain the route crosses five hills, three of which with notable remnants of Iron Age hillfort sites: Bratton, Scratchbury and Battlesbury Camps, and it also passes Wiltshire’s largest White Horse, at Westbury.
Shorter walks, starting from Bratton or Edington, or finishing in Heytesbury, involve short bus journeys.
Note: Before embarking on this walk, please read below chapters on Public Safety and Access Rights on Salisbury Plain/Imber Range and on General Health & Safety Rules for military areas and ranges
Public Safety and Access Rights on Salisbury Plain/Imber Range
The current status of access rights on Salisbury Plain should be checked at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/public-access-to-military-areas#contents [under ‘Locations in South West England – Salisbury Plain]
At time of writing the rules relevant for this walk are as follows:
The main points:
General Health & Safety Rules for military areas and ranges
Alternative Start from Bratton, a 12 minute bus journey from Westbury on line 87/87A (Trowbridge – Devizes) with 6 buses on weekdays and 4 on Saturdays (01/17 price: £1.90), cuts 5.5 km/3.4 mi and 67m ascent. This cuts Westbury, the White Horse and the Bratton Camp Iron Age hillfort site. Rated 7/10.
Alternative Start from Edington, further along the same bus line (01/17 price: £2.40). This cuts 5.9 km/3.7 mi and 94m ascent, and also a stretch of the Imber Range Perimeter Path. Rated 7/10.
Alternative Ending at Heytesbury, a 13 minute bus journey from Warminster (and 33 from Westbury) on line 265 (Salisbury – Bath) with an hourly service Mondays to Saturdays (01/17 price: £2.70). This cuts 8.0 km/5.0 mi and 300m ascent at the end, i.e. the most scenic part of the walk: the succession of Cotley, Scratchbury, Middle and Battlesbury Hills, two of which are notable Iron Age hillfort sites. Rated 5/10.
Edington Start + Heytesbury Ending: 16.4 km/10.2 mi with 198m ascent. Rated 3/10.
Tea and Biscuits are sold at St Giles, Imber church on most of the Open Days (14.4 km/9.0 mi).
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 (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
Apr-17 Thomas G
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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