Walk Distance: 7.8km
Walk Duration: 2hr 20 (with a fairly speedy 3 year old and 1 year old in carrier, 3 hours including picnic stop).
Ordnance Survey: OS Landranger 173 Swindon & Devizes; OS Explorer 157 Marlborough & Savernake Forest;
Suitable for: Babies in carriers, good little legs, possible with all-terrain pushchairs and mountain bikes.
Walk Features: Great views from the Ridgeway National Trail, pub in Ogbourne St. George, very pretty in Spring with bluebells and other wildflowers.
‘This is the second of two circular walks starting from Ogbourne St. George (you can find the other one here), both of which take in different stretches of the Ridgeway National Trail and can be combined for those looking to cover more distance.
We originally intended to walk a lot further on this day but as so often happens with young children, we set off later than planned, dawdled longer than expected and ultimately had to adapt our route to a shorter distance. The resulting route though was just right for our 3 year old who walked pretty much the whole way and we could at least see Swindon and the tree above the motorway which marks the end of the first large section of our Ridgeway adventure.
The views from the top of the Ridgeway are lovely and well worth the initial climb. In dry weather it is possible to bring a cross-country pushchair or mountain bikes along the whole route, with the return path following a disused railway line which provides lovely level cycling for little ones.
The only thing that is not family friendly about this walk is the lack of loos or baby changing facilities (back to basics or stop at the pub for lunch and loos) and there is one very fast road to cross which requires great care. ‘
We started the Ogbourne St. George Ridgeway and Railway Path Walk from Old Chase Road to the south-east of the village. You can start the route from anywhere in Ogbourne St. George though and walk up to the Old Chase Road to join the Ridgeway National Trail. Follow the final section of this walk to get there from the Inn with the Well pub.
From Old Chase Road, walk up the hill. Continue on as the road turns into a rough track. At the split, you can choose which way you prefer to go. Both the track and the smaller footpath that leads off to the left head up to the Ridgeway. The path is more direct and cuts off the corner of the Ridgeway but it is also not suitable for pushchairs and bikes, is a bit rough underfoot for very little walkers and sadly has quite a bit of litter. The track will add to your distance but is wider and easier walking and the only route for bikes and pushchairs. If you take the track, turn left at the top onto the Ridgeway and you will rejoin the route description where the path joins the Ridgeway also a short distance on.
For path walkers, walk up along the grassy trail catching the occasional glimpse of the views opening up out over the surrounding hillside. Eventually the path takes you onto the wide track of the main Ridgeway National Trail, where anyone taking the alternative route above will rejoin. Turn left and follow the track as it passes along the ancient Ridgeway.
The walk takes you up to Chase Wood Road, a quiet farm lane which the Ridgeway National Path now follows. We only saw one car when walking down here but be aware with little children. Eventually the lane crosses a small road before the walk continues onwards on the Ridgeway along the lane. A little way on there is a footpath marked for walkers only which runs parallel to the main Ridgeway track. When we walked the route a tree blocked the initial bit of the path but you could easily join it a few meters further on. It is narrow but very pretty with bluebells and wood anemone in the late spring. The narrower path rejoins the main Ridgeway track further down.
Eventually the Ridgeway comes to another cross-section with a smaller track. Turn left here and begin the walk downhill. The views are great as you descend past the large mast. Up to the north you can see Swindon (possibly at its prettiest angle!) and Liddington Castle – the last major way point on the Ridgeway National Trail before it reaches the M4 motorway. That’s where we will be heading next!
As you get to the bottom of the hill you will see the main road ahead of you from Swindon to Marlborough and also the small lane turning off it a short way to the right on the opposite side. The official route takes you down to the main road along the track you have been following. Here you can wade through long grass and nettles on the verge to get to a place opposite the lane where you can cross. The road is incredibly fast and fairly busy so do take great care. Personally, if I did it again I would be tempted to nip along the rough ground on the very edge of the field that you can get to from the last bend of the lane and then pop out at the road opposite the track where it continues (you will see what I mean when you’re there). This is not an official path and if crops are growing or the route is fenced off then of course it is even less of an option but with our 3 year old I have to say I’d have felt much safer avoiding the short walk with her along the edge of a pretty dangerous road and that is coming from someone who is normally a huge stickler for following the rules. If only someone would cut the verge so walkers can get to the onward footpath in safety!
Cross the road and walk down the track, turning left before the old ruined brick bridge. This takes you onto the Chiseldon and Marlborough Railway Path. It is popular with cyclists but we walked it with very little trouble on a Saturday in late April and only had the occasional leisurely family of cyclists passing us by. The route is very leafy and shady – a nice option for a hot summer day. It is perfect territory for nervous cyclers and although not paved, it is mainly flat and easy going.
The route passes over a small track and round the back of some houses but at all times it is well signposted. Eventually the walk brings you back out onto the Copse Drove road near the Inn with the Well pub in Ogbourne St. George. For those finishing in the village, the main High Street of Ogbourne St. George is just down to the right. Otherwise, to finish your walk back at the Old Chase Road, turn left under the road bridge. Cross over the road and head up the first turning to the right along Bytham Road, marked as a cul-de-sac. This quiet lane takes you back to the Old Chase Road which turns off it at the end to the left.
Map of Route:
The Ridgeway & Railway Round Walk at Ogbourne St. George starts from the Old Chase Road where there is some space for free parking on a rough track but you can easily pick up the route by parking on the street in central Ogbourne St. George or from the bus stop if you’re travelling by public transport from Marlborough or Swindon.
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