Wiltshire is a county set within the South West of England landlocked it borders the counties of Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. Many pass through on their way to more renown holiday destinations such as Devon and Cornwall. However, Wiltshire is a great county to stop and explore, walking the Ridgeway and discovering its historic sites such as the Avebury Stone Circle.
Walking the Wiltshire Ridgeway
Walking the Wiltshire Ridgeway: South West England’s Historic Sites: Ridgeway-Avebury Stone Circle-Silbury Hill. The Ridgeway is a path that stretches for 85 miles over four counties and was used as a trading route during the Bronze Age( 2300 to 700 BC). When walking this ancient path it’s really something to realize that people have been doing exactly this for thousands of years.
The Ridgeway is the oldest footpath in Britain and is a popular place for people who not only enjoy walking in the countryside but also are interested in some of the ancient sites along the way. Some are situated in the county of Wiltshire which is also where the Ridgeway begins.
Ogbourne St. George on the Ridgeway
To make the most of your time it would be wise to stay somewhere reasonably close to the path. The small village of Ogbourne St. George is one of a number of places that would be a good choice as the Ridgeway Path passes right through the village. You can plan walks from here and there’s a small family hotel which is not only great for being convenient for the trail it is also only a ten-minute bus ride to the beautiful old town of Marlborough and within easy reach of Avebury which is a must-see for every visitor. This tiny village is home to the famous Avebury Stone Circles and is also the official starting place for the Ridgeway.
Wiltshire: Things to See in the Area
Wiltshire is exceptionally rich in historic sites, many of which are encountered while walking the Ridgeway. Silbury Hill is one of the most enigmatic of these; it is the largest man-made mound in Europe; it stands 39.5M (130 feet) high and still remains a mystery. After more than two hundred years of investigation, nobody has been able to come up with an answer to the question “Why was it built?” Radiocarbon dating places its beginnings around 2660BC – the late Neolithic period. Many early investigators were looking for a burial chamber but nothing has ever been found to prove this theory.
The White Horses
There are six ‘white horses ‘in Wiltshire. They are formed by cutting away the turf from a hillside to expose the underlying chalk. This practice reached its peak in the 19th-century but some of the horses are very ancient. The Uffington Horse is believed to be about 2000 years old and can be seen from a road below the Ridgeway.
Famous for its prehistoric circle of giant stones, Avebury is sometimes overshadowed by the more famous stone circle at Stonehenge, which is easy to visit from here. However, the advantage that Avebury has is that you can wander amongst the stones, touch them, and generally tune in to their mystery and romance. They are the largest stone circles in Britain. The small village of Avebury is built inside these stone circles.
Only a ten-minute bus ride from Ogbourne St. George, the small town of Marlborough, so legend tells us, is the resting place of Merlin, King Arthur’s sorcerer. If you want to take time off from walking the Ridgeway you can spend a very pleasant day in this attractive town. There are lots of shops and restaurants and if you take a walk in the grounds of the famous Marlborough Public School you will see a mound where Merlin is said to be buried, although archaeologists believe it is a Neolithic monument of the same period as Silbury Hill.
Wiltshire: Stay Over
Hotels, Bed & Breakfast and even Self Catering accommodation. Stop off in style with rooms with free wifi, parking, luxury facilities to pet-friendly units. Travelling on to Exmoor & North Devon? Why not pick up our highly recommended The Heart of Exmoor Route Starting at Taunton M5 Junction 25, the route takes you through the heart of Exmoor National Park, travelling through beautiful scenic countryside and the picturesque villages of Raleigh Cross, Wheddon Cross, Exford, Simsonsbath and Challacombe, ending within 5 miles of Blackmoor Gate, with direct routes from the A399 to Ilfracombe, Combe Martin, Woolacombe, Croyde, South Molton, Lynton and Lynmouth.
Contributed and written by The Exmoor Holiday Company