At the start of the Ridgeway

Published 14 July 2019

The entirely unglamorous start of the Ridgeway National Trail
The extremely exciting start of the Ridgeway

Most long distance walks start somewhere convenient. Somewhere walkers can get to easily. A small town with a regular bus service. A village with a train station. That kind of thing. Some place where you can rock up with ease. The people who create walks have recognised that being able to do that, is rather a useful thing. That if you want people to do your trail, it helps if you make it easy to get to.

The Ridgeway eschews this logic. It’s western end – henceforth referred to as “the start” – is at Overton Hill. It’s a spot with very little public transport. Or anything at all really. There is just a road. And a path.

There’s no monument. Nothing exciting to look at. Indeed you look at the place and wonder why this was chosen to be the start of an 87 mile walk. There’s no rhyme, and certainly no obvious reason for it.

West Kennett Long Barrow
West Kennett Long Barrow, one of the largest Neolithic burial chambers in Britain.

Thing is, across the road there is something exciting. West Kennett Long Barrow is one of the largest Neolithic chambered tombs in Britain. And an impressive one to boot. Fifty people were buried in it, and it’s part of a World Heritage Site.

But it’s not on the Ridgeway.

No, the start of the Ridgeway, really is just rather dull.


Mikey C

21 August 2019 at 1:51 pm

The start of the Ridgeway is a bit uninspiring, and equally so if it’s the end (as it was in my case) but as you can then go on and explore West Kennett Long Barrow, Silbury and Avebury, it didn’t feel too bad!

Indeed it’s perhaps a bit surprising that there isn’t an official “Ridgeway Extension” path going past these sites between Avebury and the start of the trail, seeing that Avebury has both buses AND a pub and shops, but maybe they assume that everyone can find these sites if they want to.

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