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The Ridgeway

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The Ridgeway trail follows part of an ancient track dating back to the Stone Age and beyond. The drier and less densely wooded chalk hilltops and ridges offered a much preferable route to travellers. Overall, The Ridgeway's 87 miles can be seen as a trail in two halves.

The Ridgeway

The open land, often remote and isolated, of the North Wessex Downs to the west of the Goring Gap and the River Thames has views to the north over the flat expanse of the Thames valley and south over the rolling Downs. The more intimate and intricate hills of the Chilterns to the east are more frequently wooded and the paths are narrower, often hedged and less exposed. Both the North Wessex Downs and the Chilterns have been designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and right from the outset at Overton Hill, the ancient nature of this trackway is also apparent, with hill forts, stone circles and burial mounds almost constantly at hand.

Beginning at Overton Hill, The Ridgeway soon climbs onto the characteristic chalk scarp slope that gives the trail its name. Passing the White Horse and the ancient fort of Barbury Castle, fantastic views north and south from Smeathe's Ridge bring the trail down towards the lovely village of Ogbourne St. George with its thatched, chalk cottages. Climbing back onto the ridge the trail begins a very peaceful section with a real sense of remoteness, punctuated only by the crossing of the busy M4 motorway. Look out for the famous Uffington White Horse and the frequent 'gallops' created for exercising the many racehorses in the area. After crossing the busy A34 near East Isley it's not far to the River Thames at Streatley.

Crossing the river brings you into Goring and a change of scene as the bank of the famous River Thames is followed for a few miles northwards. Well-watered meadows lead the way to South Stoke and North Stoke until the trail breaks right, away from the river and along a narrow path beside the ancient Grim's Ditch. The change in landscape is apparent as the track winds its way through beech woodland to beautiful Swyncombe House.

Following the base of the chalk scarp for a while, you'll soon cross beneath the M40 and the steam powered Icknield Railway before reaching Princes Risborough and a tough section of hills over to Wendover. A final, heavily wooded section sees you frequently amongst beautiful beech trees with a brief break for the crossing of road, canal and railway near Tring before the glorious final section. Climbing through the nature reserve of Duchie's Piece on Aldbury Nowers soon brings you back to Grim's Ditch and Pitstone Hill from where you'll be able to see the finish point. After a final steep climb, it's only a short and gentle stroll to the fantastic views over the Aylesbury Valley from the end of the trail high on Ivinghoe Beacon.





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