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Camping On The Ridgeway- 15 Important Things To Know

The Ridgeway is Britain’s oldest ’road’ that has been in constant use for over 5,000 years, making it one of the oldest roads in Europe, alongside the Via Sacra in Rome. Once upon a time, this was a busy Neolithic ’highway’ that stretched across the country. The Ridgeway is a classic example that England has so much more to offer than just London and the other big cities. Camping on the Ridgeway trail and discovering its historic sites is certainly an amazing experience and one of the things you must do while backpacking in the UK and this article will show you why.

About The Wiltshire Ridgeway

camping on the ridgeway

The Wiltshire Ridgeway is an 85-miles-long path that stretches over four different counties and was the main trading route during the Bronze Age. If you’re planning a road trip around the UK, this is one of the regions that you should seriously consider adding to your list. Walking this ancient path and realizing that people have been doing the exact same thing you’re doing now for thousands of years truly is a spectacular feeling.

The oldest footpath in Britain is a great choice for both, country-side lovers and history buffs. Along the way, you’ll enjoy some spectacular countryside landscapes but will also find a lot of ancient sites and remnants.

Preparation for Camping on the Ridgeway


Let’s start this guide to camping on the Ridgeway by covering some basic things you should know before going on this adventure.

Understanding the Weather and Best Times to Hike

The Ridgeway, in all its ancient glory, doesn’t care much for modern-day weather forecasts. Be prepared for anything – sun, wind, rain, or a mix of all three in the space of an hour. Generally, late spring to early autumn offers the most pleasant hiking conditions. April showers bring May flowers, but they also bring mud, so pack waterproof gear. Late summer and early autumn are often milder, but watch out for that surprise summer rain!

Navigation and Signage on the Trail

The trail is well signposted with those distinctive acorn symbols. It’s more ‘follow the yellow brick road’ than ‘where in the world are we?’. But, always have a map or a GPS handy. The trail signs are sturdy and reliable, but it’s always good to know you’ve got backup.

Essential Gear and Supplies: Packing Smart

A sturdy tent, a sleeping bag suited for English weather (spoiler: it can be unpredictable), a comfortable sleeping pad, and a reliable cooking kit are your basics. Don’t forget a first-aid kit and a good backpack.

Cozy Campsites Along the Ridgeway

camping on the ridgeway 2

The Ridgeway is dotted with spots that are less ‘rough it out in the wild’ and more ‘snug as a bug’. And this guide to camping on the Ridgeway wouldn’t be complete if we don’t share a few great campsites you’ll find along the trail, starting with…

Sparsholt Firs: Mix ‘n’ Match Camping

Sparsholt Firs

Sparsholt Firs is like that friend who can’t decide between a night out or a cozy evening in. Here, you get the best of both worlds: pitch your tent amidst nature or opt for a quaint B&B. It’s camping, but with a safety net of a comfy bed just in case the ground feels a bit too hard.

Court Hill Centre: Wallet-Friendly Comfort

Court Hill Centre

Over at Court Hill Centre, it’s all about getting that outdoorsy feel without the outdoor price tag. It’s like that budget-friendly hotel you find and can’t believe your luck. Plus, the views are a nice bonus – think of them as free room upgrades.

Crowmarsh Gifford: Village Vibes and Handy Amenities

Crowmarsh Gifford

Nestled near a lovely little village, Crowmarsh Gifford is for those who love the countryside but also appreciate being a stone’s throw from civilization. It’s camping with a convenience store nearby – because sometimes you need a midnight snack that isn’t a granola bar.

Watlington: Where Amenities Meet Natural Beauty


In Watlington, you’re camping with perks. It’s like the Ridgeway decided to throw in some extra goodies: local attractions, shops, and even some cozy pubs. It’s for when you want to feel like you’re out in the wild, but not too wild.

Wendover: Scenic Spots near Kings Ash and Hill Farm

wendover woods

Wendover’s options near Kings Ash and Hill Farm are for those who love waking up to Instagram-worthy views. It’s the kind of place where you unzip your tent and feel like you’re in a nature documentary, minus David Attenborough narrating your breakfast.

Ivinghoe Beacon: Town Farm Camping & Caravanning

Ivinghoe Beacon

Finally, Ivinghoe Beacon’s Town Farm is where campers and caravanners unite. It’s got a bit of a festival vibe, minus the loud music and overpriced food. Here, it’s about community, stunning views, and that ‘I’m-so-glad-we-did-this’ feeling.

Wild Camping On The Ridgeway

ridgeway camping

First things first: wild camping isn’t officially legal in England without the landowner’s permission. That said, it’s often tolerated along the Ridgeway if you’re discreet, respectful, and leave no trace.

When picking your wild camping spot, think stealth. You want to be out of sight, not only for your own peace but to keep the landscape undisturbed. Avoid fields with livestock and crops – no one likes waking up to a curious cow breathing down their tent flap.

Leave no trace’ is the wild camper’s mantra. Your goal is to leave the place exactly how you found it, if not better. That means packing out all your trash, avoiding open fires, and using a stove for cooking. Also note that finding water can be a challenge, so plan ahead. As for the call of nature, be sure to do your business well away from water sources and trails. Burying waste is the way to go, and always pack out your toilet paper.

Things To See Along The Way

walking the ridgeway

Wiltshire is exceptionally rich in historic sites, and one of the most famous ones is certainly Silbury Hill. This is the largest man-made prehistoric mound in Europe. It’s 40 meters tall (130 feet) and a similar size to the Egyptian pyramids in Giza.

How this mound was built remains a mystery even today. After more than 200 years of investigation, nobody has been able to come up with a logical answer to the question “Why was the Silbury Hill built”? Early investigators assumed it was used as a burial chamber but all attempts to prove this theory failed.

Are you looking for some more famous vacation spots in the UK? Check out my article on the best holiday destinations in the UK or this list of haunted castles in England.

Ogbourne St. George on the Ridgeway


It would be wise to stay somewhere reasonably close to the path if you want to make the most of your time and the small village of Ogbourne St. George is a perfect choice. The Ridgeway Path starts right here in this small village famous for the Avebury Stone Circles. Ogbourne St. George is only a ten-minutes bus ride from the charming old town of Marlborough and also not far from Avebury, which is a must-see for every visitor in the region.

Related: why should you consider backpacking Europe in the winter?


Ridgeway trail

Famous for its prehistoric circle of giant stones, Avebury is always overshadowed by its more famous Stonehenge counterpart. However, one thing Avebury allows and Stonehenge doesn’t is that you can wander around the stones freely and touch them. Another thing many people forget is that Avebury has the largest stone circles in Britain. Actually, the whole village of Avebury is built inside these stone circles.



The small town of Marlborough is located only a ten-minute bus ride away from Ogbourne St. George. The legend says Marlborough hides the resting place of Merlin, King Arthur’s sorcerer. Marlborough’s convenient location makes it a perfect stop if you want to get a break from waking the Ridgeway. The town has a lot of shops and restaurants and you the mound where Merlin is said to be buried.

Wayland’s Smithy


Wayland’s Smithy is an iconic historic thumb located near the Uffington White Horse. Archeologists have established that it was built shortly after the introduction of agriculture to Europe. That means that Wayland’s Smithy is more than 3,500 years old. At first sight, it looks like a long barrow, an architectural tradition widespread across Neolithic Europe.

However, Wayland’s Smithy belongs to a localized variant of barrows created in the south-west of Britain. This group of monuments is known as the Severn-Cotswold group. Out of these, Wayland’s Smithy is the most preserved one which makes its historic importance even greater.

The White Horses of Northwest England

Sitting on the edge of Bratton Downs below the Iron Age hill fort, this white horse is one of the most spectacular hill figures in Britain and is the oldest of six white horses carved in Wiltshire. These figures were formed by cutting away the turf from the hillside to expose the underlying chalk. This practice became very popular in Britain in the 19th century but some of these figures are rather ancient. One example is the Uffington Horse (in Oxfordshire) are rather ancient being more than 2,000 years old.

white horse england

Ivinghoe Beacon and the Chiltern Hills

The Chiltern Hills form the most spectacular, undulating path of woodland and wide chalk downs in the country. Locally known as the Chilterns, this uncrowded, green English countryside is the perfect place if you’re looking for rest and relaxation. There’s always something new to be discovered in these pristine 324 square miles of superb scenery, remote villages and charming market towns.

Moreover, Ivinghoe Beacon is the icing on the cake. This local icon stands at 250 meters above sea level and serves as an imposing gateway to the rolling hills of the Chilterns. Even though it’s not the highest point on the Ashridge Estate, it’s certainly the best place to enjoy the spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.

Enjoying this post? Then you may also like this list of the oldest cities in Europe.

Safety And Solo Travel Tips

ridgeway camp

When you’re your own company, safety is priority number one. Let someone know your itinerary and check-in regularly – it’s not nagging, it’s smart. Keep a charged phone for emergencies, but remember, signal on the Ridgeway can be as elusive as a British summer. A map and compass should be your trusty sidekicks, even if you’re GPS-equipped. And, always have a plan B, like nearby towns or landmarks, in case you need to exit the trail.

Solo camping or hiking can be as much a mental challenge as a physical one. Embrace the solitude; it’s a chance to reconnect with yourself. But also be open to interactions – fellow hikers often have the best trail stories and tips. Keep a journal or a camera to capture your thoughts and views – someday, these will be your ‘good old days.’

Planning A Budget For Camping On The Ridgeway

the ridgeway trail

Last but not least, we conclude this guide to camping on the Ridgeway with a few lines that should help you plan your budget for this exciting adventure.

Accommodation: From Camping to B&Bs

Accommodation choices can swing from free (wild camping, where permitted) to budget-friendly B&Bs. Camping is your wallet’s best friend, offering the cheapest nights under the stars. If you fancy a roof, local B&Bs or hostels offer comfort without the crippling cost. Pro tip: Booking in advance can snag you better deals.

Food: From Packed Lunches to Pub Grub

Eating on a budget doesn’t mean dining on a diet of bland. Pack your own meals for the trail – it’s cheaper and you control what goes into your fuel tank. If you’re craving a hot meal, cozy pubs along the way offer hearty fare at reasonable prices.

Transport: Getting There and Back

Your biggest transport cost is likely getting to and from the trail. Public transport is your ally here. Trains and buses might take longer, but they’re kinder to your bank account. If you’re driving, consider car-sharing. It’s like turning your vehicle into a budget-friendly bus.

Gear: Invest or Borrow

Gear can be a money-muncher. If you’re a frequent hiker, investing in quality gear pays off in the long run. But for the occasional adventurer, borrowing or renting gear can keep costs down. It’s like dress-up, but for hiking.

As the oldest path in Britain, the Ridgeway has a rich history. During the Neolithic and Bronze Era, the Ridgeway was a busy trading path. In the Dark Ages, The Ridgeway was the main route for the Saxons and Vikings during their advances into Wessex. That’s why today you will find a lot of interesting historic sights from many different eras. However, that’s not the only reason to visit.

Camping under the open sky and enjoying the stunning landscapes you’ll encounter on the way is certainly something that makes walking the Ridgeway a must-do experience during your trip to England. If you’re looking for something different than just strolling through London or visiting the Buckingham Palace, walking the Ridgeway is a must.

Did you like this post? Did you find some helpful tips for camping on the Ridgeway? Fee free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

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Medha Verma

Thursday 15th of November 2018

I love your fall picture of Marlborough! It looks gorgeous. Also, Avebury's pre historical stones look amazing, a slight bit like the Stone Henge. And the village of Ogbourne is the perfect kind of place I'd like to visit. Beautiful countryside and history are the two things I look for in my trips and it seems the Ridgeway has a mix of it all!

Passport Symphony

Thursday 15th of November 2018

Thank you, Medha. I'm glad you enjoyed the article.

Sinjana Ghosh

Thursday 15th of November 2018

This is a great article. I never knew about this 5000 year old road. it is a must-to-do thing to explore the ridgeway in UK trip so thanks for shaaring. I love the beautiful fall foliage and the white horse stick figures

Passport Symphony

Thursday 15th of November 2018

It sure is, Sinjana. Thank you for commenting.


Wednesday 14th of November 2018

Very interesting and historical place! This is the first time I heard of it even though I have spend quite a lot of time in the U.K. I love the views and how green the nature is there. The white horse is an very interesting detail. I didn't think that even that had an historical story.

Passport Symphony

Wednesday 14th of November 2018

Thanks, Paula, I'm really glad you liked it.


Wednesday 14th of November 2018

What a great way to see history up close. This Ridgeway has continued its role as a link between towns and commerce and what a great tribute to camp alongside it as must have been done by so many travelers. I find both the stone circles and the horses fascinating and it is amazing that they’ve been around for so long.

Passport Symphony

Wednesday 14th of November 2018

It sure is, Annick. Thank you for commenting


Tuesday 13th of November 2018

Wiltshire Ridgeway is an 85-miles-long path and is as old as the Bronze Age. Wow! There is something new to discover everyday. I have been to UK twice and I wish I had known about this amazing hidden gem! Would have loved to walk the ridgeway. The pictures looks fantastic and gazing at Avebury, I thought this looks different from Stonehenge and you are right, it is not a very popularly spoken spot. That's what would make it special though for me, apart from that fact that the whole village is within the stone circles. Even Wayland’s Smithy looks unique. Now I have something new to discover on my next trip to Britain and take this amazing historical trip.

Passport Symphony

Wednesday 14th of November 2018

Thanks, Navita! You know me, I like getting off the beaten track :) I hope you get the chance to walk the Ridgeway when you visit the UK again.