Walk Distance: 10 km
Walk Duration: 3 hours (including picnic stop time)
OS Map: OS Landranger 173 Swindon & Devizes; OS Explorer 157 Marlborough & Savernake Forest
Suitable for: Babies in backpacks, older children and competent young walkers. Although parts of the path are suitable for all-terrain pushchairs, large ruts and uneven ground make it difficult walking in many places. There is a short steep hill on the last part of the walk.
Walk features: Far-reaching views, sites of historic interest, pub at end of route, linear walk (option of bus back to start)
The Ridgeway National Trail starts at Overton Hill, just outside of the historic village of Avebury in Wiltshire. The Ridgeway rus for 89 miles and is normally split into 6-7 long all-day walks – not so good for walking with children! This walk is the first of Baby Routes’ shorter walks along the Ridgeway, designed in manageable stretches to make walking the Ridgeway National Trail possible with younger families and those wanting to complete the walk with a baby in a backpack.
The walk along the Ridgeway starts from Overton Hill car park, just south-east of the village of Averbury and takes in a good 7 1/2 km stretch of the Ridgeway National Trail before dropping down to Broad Hinton. From Broad Hinton, there are three options to get back:
- Retrace your steps along the Ridgeway from Hackpen car park on the Ridgeway above Broad Hinton.
- Walk to Broad Hinton and get the No. 49 bus back to Avebury, visit the standing stone and then take a gentle 3.4km stroll back to Overton Hill car park as described below. You can also catch the TL3 bus back from the Red Lion at Avebury to West Kennet (just before the Overton Hill Car Park if you really don’t want to walk far.
- Park at Avebury, walk up to the Ridgeway via Green Street (opposite the Red Lion pub), turn left and rejoin the walk below on the Ridgeway to Broad Hinton and then get bus back. This way you avoid the final 3.4km stroll back to Overton Hill car park and is the best option if you’re not too bothered about missing the official start of the Ridgeway at Overton Hill.
Of course, if you’re imaginative or have got the time, there are circular variations possible to take you back to Overton Hill by foot on a longer route but as any such walk would take too long for most families walking with young children or a baby, they are not described here.
From the Overton Hill car park, the Ridgeway trail is clearly marked leaving form the end of the car park. On the way out the car park you will pass the Bronze Age burial mounds of Overton Hill to your right. It’s worth taking a quick detour to read about the pre-Roman history of Overton Hill and will open your eyes to the surrounding countryside.
Head on up the well-defined trail as it rises gently uphill on the Ridgeway. The climb is quite gradual and the views are lovely across the surrounding countryside. The good news is that once up the top, the path stays pretty level so you can enjoy the extensive views without too much extra effort!
From here the walk along the Ridgeway is simple. Keep going! The path does become quite rutted after the initial good track (hence why pushchairs are not recommended sadly) but does improve after the intersection with Green Street byeway which meets the Ridgeway from the left coming up from Avebury.
The Ridgeway eventually bends towards the right and shortly after the walk passes a conservation dewpond on the left hand side. Walk on until you reach the road which intersects the Ridgeway at Hackpen Hill. There is a car park just beyond and if you fancy a detour, you can head downhill to your left a little for an up-close view of the Hackpen Hill White Horse. Much smaller than its more famous equine chalk companions, this horse is not ancient but dates from around the early 19th century, possibly carved out by a local publican to commemorate the coronation of Queen Victoria.
For those wanting to walk back to the Overton Hill car park, it’s best to turn around here. If you fancy the longer wander down to Broad Hinton, bus back to Avebury to explore the stone circle and the final stroll back to Overton Hill, carry straight on over the road, through the car park and continue on the trail beyond.
Just after passing a copse on your left, keep walking and keep an eye out for the bridleway sign pointing through a gate to your left. It is signposted on the gate for the White Horse Trail. Go through the gate, leaving the Ridgeway and head slowly downhill. Go through the next gate and down the steep field beyond. There are distant views back up onto the White Horse from the bottom of the field here.
Continue through the gate at the other side and onto the track beyond. When the tractor trail bends to the left of a hedge between two fields, turn off it, keeping right and follow the footpath signs. Continue on keeping the hedgeline on your left. The ground was quite churned up at time of writing, presumably after a long winter of horses riding through soft ground here, so be prepared for a bit of uneven walking.
Pass through the gate and keep following the track down to the road. The bus stop for the number 49 bus back to Avebury is just to your left and the Barbury Inn just to your right, with a good beer garden for waiting in and grabbing a quick bite or refreshment should you have time on your hands before the bus.
Hop on the hourly no.49 bus back to the Red Lion at Avebury (£3.80 for two adults and a baby at time of writing) – you can find the timetable here.
At Avebury, take time to wander around the mysterious stone circles that make the village famous. The village is surrounded by a huge excavated ditch (a ‘henge’) and then an inner circle of massive stones, thought to be part of a temple dating from as far back as 2850BC. There are ice-creams available in the local shops and a pub on hand if you are in need of refreshment.
Finished with the touristy stuff and parked at Overton Hill Car Park? Head back to the Red Lion pub where you got off the bus. Opposite the pub is Green Street – there is a sign at the start of the road advising of ‘No Tourist Parking’. Head down here and continue as the road turns into a track. Keep an eye out for the footpath sign which points to a fork in the path on your right.
Turn right along this footpath and continue along as it gently weaves a little uphill through pleasant farmland again towards the start of the Ridgeway. When it eventually joins the Ridgeway, turn right and walk the short distance back to Overton Hill car park where you began.
Map of Route:
Free parking is available in the car park at Overton Hill, just off the A4 at West Kennet, to the south-east of Avebury. Alternatively, there is paid parking in Avebury which is clearly signposted within the village.
There are regular buses to West Kennet and Avebury from Swindon and Devizes – check Traveline South West to plan you journey by public transport.
View Overton Hill to Broad Hinton Walk in a larger map
Rate this walk: