Walk Distance: 7 km (there & back again)
Walk Duration: 2 hours (including plenty of time for exploring Barbury Castle hill fort)
OS Map: OS Landranger 173 Swindon & Devizes; OS Explorer 157 Marlborough & Savernake Forest
Suitable for: All-terrain strollers; sturdy pushchairs; babies in carriers, good little walkers;
Walk features: Fantastic views, iron age fort, picnic area, toilets and baby changing; space for kite-flying etc.
The walk along the Ridgeway National Trail from Broad Hinton to Barbury Castle is a simple and fairly un-taxing stroll offering amazing views and the very clear remains of an iron age fort to explore that the kids will love. It’s a perfect Ridgeway walk for those looking to walk with a pushchair or all-terrain stroller as the majority of the way is on a stony track with good grass paths over Barbury Castle itself. Mini-walkers should manage most of the trail ok with the exception of a short steep climb up to Barbury Castle. There are toilet facilities, picnic area and space for kite flying or more next to the Barbury Castle car park. Located only ten minutes from the M4 motorway, it is also a lovely walk to break up a long motorway journey with children.
The walk starts from Broad Hinton car park at Hackpen Hill. You can start from Barbury Castle car park if you prefer but starting from Broad Hinton gives the walk more of a sense of purpose and achievement with Barbury Castle upon reaching Barbury Castle by foot.
From the Hackpen Hill car park, follow the path from the end of the car park out onto the Ridgeway, passing a small copse on your left. As you walk this stretch of the path there are gorgeous rural views both to the east and west, with Swindon visible in the distance.
The walk to Barbury Castle is simple – follow the clear Ridgeway trail, ignoring any signposts straight on. Eventually you will make a steady descent down a hill with Barbury Castle ‘s distinctive earthworks clearly visible on the hillside opposite. At the road, don’t follow the path straight over on the official Ridgeway National Trail but instead turn right along the road for a few meters before crossing over and passing through the gate into the Barbury Castle Country Park.
From here the walk follows the path straight up the steep slope, emerging to more fantastic views at the top of the hill by Barbury Castle. An iron-age hill-fort from 6th century BC, Barbury Castle served as a refuge to local communities from attacking tribes. The two massive earthern banks and ditches, the remains of which are clearly visible today, reinforced with massive stones like those found at Avebury and Stonehenge would have been a formidable sight to attackers, particularly after they had had to scale the steep hillside to get to the fort in the first place. Barbury Castle is a great place for children to explore and you can easily push and all-terrain pushchair along the top of the fort’s ridges with more lovely views in all directions and plenty of wildlife to keep an eye out for.
After exploring Barbury Castle, head back off its banks onto the path you came up on and continue walking through the middle of the fort until you reach a gate on the opposite side. Walk through the gate and follow the path through the meadow beyond – a perfect spot for kite flying, picnicing or a kick-about with a ball. Through the gate at the far end of the meadow the path continues to the Barbury Castle car park where you will find toilet facilities and a picnic area.
The walk returns along the same route or if you prefer, there is a second option to walk beneath the fort along the Ridgeway National Trail – just walk down the road to the left of the car-park exit and turn left when you see the signs for the Ridgeway National Trail. This will return you to the road just below the west side of Barbury Castle where you can continue back to Broad Hinton along your outward path.
Map of Route:
Both Broad Hinton and Barbury Castle car parks are most easily reached by car or bicycle and good car parks are available at both locations. It is possible to catch the No. 49 bus to Broad Hinton from Swindon or Devizes but be aware you will need to walk an additional 2 km uphill to reach the Ridgeway and start of the trail.
View Broad Hinton to Barbury Castle Walk in a larger map
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