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 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.