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Avebury’s World Heritage Trail

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Avebury’s World Heritage Trail
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 28 Oct 2012 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Wiltshire, Marlborough
Walk Type: History trail
Avebury’s World Heritage Trail
Length: 6 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A six mile circular loop from the pre-historically important village of Avebury in Wiltshire. The area is heavily populated with prehistoric sites which appear on the World Heritage List and you will be able to see many of these up close and also have chance to explore a couple – the Avebury Stone Circles and the West Kennet Long Barrow.

The walk has several steady but long climbs and descents and the paths, whilst good for most of the year, can be quite muddy after wet weather and in winter. There are several gates plus five stiles (all with open fencing making them easy for most dogs) and some of the fields are likely to be holding sheep and/or cattle. Approximate time 2.5 to 3 hours.

The village of Avebury in Wiltshire is situated about 5 miles west of Marlborough and is just north of the A4. The central village parking is reserved for local residents and so the walk starts from the tourist car park on the A4361 Beckhampton Road. The car park is managed by the National Trust and is free to members (and members of English Heritage) and costs £7 per day for others (Aug 2016). Approximate post code SN8 1RF.

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Walk Sections

Start to A4
Start to A4

Start point: 51.4256 lat, -1.8579 long
End point: 51.4143 lat, -1.8524 long

From the National Trust car park, go back out onto the main road (A4361) and turn right. After just a few paces cross over the road to turn left through a gate marked with a blue arrow. Keep ahead through the next gate, also marked with a blue arrow, and follow the riverside path.

The River Kennet is a tributary of The Thames and has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to its extensive populations of rare plant and animals, including water voles, that are supported in the chalk watercourse.

A little distance ahead pass through a pair of gates to continue on the path with the river still to the right – do NOT cross over the river via the bridge. Straight after the pair of gates, zig-zag left and then right over a pair of stiles.

On the right now you will have excellent views of Silbury Hill. The hill is a prehistoric artificial chalk mound, built around 4,750 years ago. At 40 metres high, it is the tallest prehistoric human-made mound in Europe. The purpose of the hill is unknown although suggestions include it being a burial mound or an elevated stage to allow priests to perform rituals to very large gatherings.

Pass through another wooden gate and keep straight ahead on the path which follows the right hand boundary of the large open field. Pass out through a gate to reach the A4 road.

A4 to West Kennet Long Barrow
A4 to West Kennet Long Barrow

Start point: 51.4143 lat, -1.8524 long
End point: 51.4086 lat, -1.8503 long

Cross over the A4 with care into the lay-by opposite. Turn left along the tarmac pavement and then turn right through a metal kissing gate onto the path signed to West Kennet Long Barrow. (Note there may be cattle in this field). Follow the wide stone path directly ahead, passing over the stream bridge and on through another metal kissing gate.

Bear left onto the enclosed footpath and then, as the fence on the right ends, turn right heading gently uphill on the wide grass footpath between arable fields. As you come over the brow of the hill you will see West Kennet Long Barrow ahead with its distinctive upright stone slabs marking the entrance.

West Kennet Long Barrow to Lane
West Kennet Long Barrow to Lane

Start point: 51.4086 lat, -1.8503 long
End point: 51.4083 lat, -1.835 long

Take time to explore the Long Barrow. Dating back 5,500 years, the Neolithic barrow is one of best preserved examples of a chambered burial tomb in southern England. Archaelogical excavations found at least 46 burials here and it is thought the burial chamber was in use for nearly 1,000 years.

When you are ready to continue, retrace your steps downhill on the wide grass path. When you reach the fence boundary ahead, this time turn right to continue along the lower edge of the field. When you reach a wide gate ahead, cross the stile alongside to enter an enclosed grass track.

You will come to a T-junction with a tarmac lane ahead. Cross over and take the stile opposite (just slightly to your right) and keep ahead following the right hand boundary of this field. Follow this path with the fence on your right and keep right as the boundary bends this way.

At the next corner cross the stile onto the narrow footpath under a tunnel of trees. At the T-junction turn left, and follow the wide fenced grassy track to reach a T-junction with a tarmac lane.

Lane to Ridgeway
Lane to Ridgeway

Start point: 51.4083 lat, -1.835 long
End point: 51.4118 lat, -1.8305 long

Turn left along the lane and go over the river bridge with distinctive white railings. Immediately afterwards turn right onto the grass track with open fields sloping up the left and the river running across to the right.

At the field corner, bear slightly right to exit the field and you will reach a T-junction with a steep grass track. Turn left heading uphill and follow this all the way up to reach the T-junction with the A4.

On the left through a gate you will see the site of The Sanctuary. Part of the local pre-historic monuments, The Sanctuary was six concentric rings of timbers originally built around 3000BC. The purpose of the site is unknown but one theory is that the timbers supported a turf roof to create a building to house people or equipment for rituals at the nearby Avebury Stone Circle. The site was largely destroyed in the 1700s but today concrete blocks mark the positions of the timber posts.

Cross over the A4 with care (you are on a bit of a blind summit) and go ahead through the gravel car park to join the Ridgeway.

Ridgeway to Manor Farm
Ridgeway to Manor Farm

Start point: 51.4118 lat, -1.8305 long
End point: 51.4314 lat, -1.8415 long

On the right you will see some tumuli on Overton Hill and a lovely view of the church between them. Keep ahead alongside the wooden gate to join the wide chalk track of The Ridgeway.

The Ridgeway is thought to be Britain’s oldest road and is now an 87 mile long National Trail which stretches from this Wiltshire chalk ridge all the way to Buckinghamshire.

Over to the left you will see four tumuli earth mounds topped with copses of trees. As you draw level with the fourth of these, turn left off the Ridgeway to join the track marked as a byway. As you reach the copse of trees, take the fork passing to the right of this copse and follow the obvious grass track passing between fields.

Follow this farm track as it meanders between the arable fields, taking time to enjoy the views. Eventually you will emerge to a T-junction with the buildings of Manor Farm on the left.

Manor Farm to End
Manor Farm to End

Start point: 51.4314 lat, -1.8415 long
End point: 51.427 lat, -1.8572 long

Turn left to pass in front of the farm buildings and follow the track as it becomes a quiet lane passing a couple of private properties on the left. Before you reach the buildings ahead, look out for a crossroads with wooden gates each side.

Turn right here through the wooden gate to enter the site of the Avery Stone Circle (note there may be sheep grazing so keep dogs on a lead). Take the left hand path and follow this as it passes to the right of a large flat stone. As you go a little further, across to the right more of the stones will come in to view. Go through the gate at the far side, with the Red Lion ahead, cross over the road and turn right along the raised paved path. At the end, pass through the gate to reach the next section of the Avebury Stones. Swing left to follow the grass footpath which runs immediately to the right of the line of stones.

The Avebury Neolithic henge monument includes the largest stone circle in Europe and forms part of the ‘Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites’ World Heritage Site. Constructed around 2600BC, it is thought to have been used for some form of ritual or ceremony.

Pass out through the gate and go down the steps to meet a T-junction with a stone track. Turn left to reach the main village road. Cross over the road and take the fenced tarmac footpath opposite signed to the car park. On the left you will see the southern half of the stone circle. Follow the fenced footpath along and continue as it bends to the right. Ahead you will reach the car park where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2012 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


2 responses to "Avebury’s World Heritage Trail"

parking now £7, but can finish with an ice cream from the local shop, bonus!

ADMIN RESPONSE: Thank you for the latest info - we have updated the guide!

By Rachaelelley on 2016-08-14 14:48:58

As a parking alternative, there is free parking near "the Sanctuary" and "Silbury Hill", both on the route!

By Tankosl on 2016-11-23 08:16:34

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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