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Vale of Pewsey and the Giant's Grave

There are currently 3 comments and 3 photos online for this walk.

Vale of Pewsey and the Giant's Grave
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 09 Jan 2015 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 UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Wiltshire, Marlborough Downs
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Vale of Pewsey and the Giant's Grave
Length: 5 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 5 mile circular walk from Pewsey Wharf in Wiltshire. This particularly rewarding walk begins with a peaceful stretch of the Kennet and Avon Canal, before climbing gradually and then more steeply to reach Oare Hill within the Marlborough Downs. Here you will find the Giant’s Grave, an ancient burial long barrow with a charming local legend. The views are spectacular so try to time your walk for a clear day. The return leg descends through arable fields to rejoin the canal for the final stretch.

The walk includes one gradual and then fairly stiff climb to the summit of Oare Hill (250m above sea level, a 120m ascent) and then the equivalent descent. Whilst most of the towpath is surfaced, the rest of the paths are all unmade and some sections (particularly towards the end) can be very deep with mud after rain and in winter so good waterproof boots are a must. The top of the ridge is very exposed so make sure you have appropriate clothing. There are two gates plus four stiles on route (all of which have areas of open fence alongside which most dogs should be able to negotiate). The fields are all arable so you are unlikely to come across livestock. There is a cafe in the car park at the start of the walk. Approximate time 2 to 2.5 hours.

The large village of Pewsey is located 7 miles south of Marlborough in Wiltshire. The walk starts and finishes from the Canal and River Trust pay and display car park at Pewsey Wharf, on the A345 just 3/4 mile north of the village itself, on the south side of the canal. The car park fee is £1 for 4 hours (correct Jan 2015). Approximate post code SN9 5NT.

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Walk Sections

Start to Bridge 112
Start to Bridge 112

Start point: 51.3485 lat, -1.7748 long
End point: 51.3542 lat, -1.7508 long

Begin standing in the Pewsey Wharf car park alongside the Kennet and Avon Canal. Now just a cafe-bistro and car park, this was once the wharf serving the village of Pewsey. It was the village’s main trade link with the outside world with its two-storey brick warehouse to store the goods.

Standing facing the canal, turn right (passing between the canal and the old warehouse bistro). Keep ahead through the gate to join the canal towpath with the canal running on the left. This is a popular mooring spot, so you are likely to be passing a range of canal boats and barges. Follow the towpath for some distance.

The Kennet and Avon Canal was built between 1794 and 1810 to link the River Kennet (which itself links to the River Thames) with the River Avon at Bath. It created an important east-west trade link. It was used to carry iron, coal, stone and timber from Bristol and to bring luxuries like tobacco and spirits from London.

Pass under the first bridge (Bridge 113) and continue on the towpath. To the right now is Jones’s Mill Nature Reserve, a wonderful secluded wetland. The peaty soil is fed by natural springs to support wet woodland, ponds and wet grassland. In the past a watermill (Johun’s Myll of 1552) was believed to have been sited here (hence the name) but in more recent times the site has been used to graze dairy cattle and for growing watercress. Today, the reserve is grazed by Belted Galloway cattle to maintain the balance of the habitat which supports water voles, water shrews, herons, kingfishers, dragonflies and marsh orchids. You will have a chance to explore the site later should you wish.

Continue only as far as the second bridge, Bridge 112 (a total distance of just over a mile so far).

Bridge 112 to West Wick House
Bridge 112 to West Wick House

Start point: 51.3542 lat, -1.7508 long
End point: 51.3632 lat, -1.7509 long

Do not pass under this bridge, instead fork right through the open gateway immediately before it. Pass through the stone clearing and then turn left along the lane, passing over the canal bridge. Follow this quiet lane ahead, taking care of any occasional traffic.

In the winter you may be rewarded with large flocks of starlings chattering away in the trees. After the right-hand bend, you will get a good view ahead of the Marlborough Downs ridge that you will be climbing shortly (don’t worry – the views will make it worthwhile!).

At the first road junction keep straight ahead on the dead-end branch signed to West Wick. Follow the lane ahead, which passes West Wick Cottages on the right and then becomes a tarmac bridleway. At the next junction, keep ahead again on the bridleway (now a track with a grassy centre) passing a concrete outbuilding on the right. Further along you will pass West Wick House on the left with a pretty shepherd’s hut within the grounds.

West Wick House to Giant's Grave
West Wick House to Giant's Grave

Start point: 51.3632 lat, -1.7509 long
End point: 51.3683 lat, -1.7614 long

A few yards beyond the house you will come to another junction. Keep straight ahead here onto the narrow grassy bridleway between hedgerows. Follow this as it begins to steadily climb. Eventually the bridleway becomes a short section of sunken track which leads you to a wide metal gate (signed as Access Land).

Go through the gate and a few paces later you will come to a junction of paths. Take the second path on the left (signed for Clench Common). Follow this sunken track fairly steeply uphill (take care as the track is often muddy and can be slippery when wet).

At the top of the slope you will see another wide metal gate ahead. Keep on the path which passes to the left of this (signed as Mid Wilts Way) to reach a T-junction with a fence ahead. Turn left along the path which follows the top of this ridge within the Marlborough Downs. Take time to enjoy the views across the Vale of Pewsey down to the left.

The path leads you through the centre of the mound of the Giant’s Grave. This ancient burial chamber or long barrow is one of many within the Wiltshire countryside. Local legend claims that the giant will stir from his slumber if anyone runs around the tomb seven times – do so at your own risk!

Giant's Grave to Sunnyhill Lane
Giant's Grave to Sunnyhill Lane

Start point: 51.3683 lat, -1.7614 long
End point: 51.3592 lat, -1.7699 long

Continue along the path to pass the trig point (on the right) of Oare Hill. At 250m above sea level, this place is a great spot for enjoying the expansive views. You will see the village of Oare in the valley ahead. Within the village is an obvious mansion house, Oare House, built around 1740 then remodelled in the early 1920s by Portmeirion architect Clough Williams-Ellis.

Keep ahead on the obvious path following the line of the fence on the right. The path leads you fairly steeply downhill towards the village of Oare. The path swings steadily left and leads you down to a stile in the field corner. Cross the stile, bear left to follow the fence line on the left and, where the fence steps back, keep ahead in the same direction across the field.

Cross the stile in the bottom fence line to reach a crossroads with a bridleway. Cross over the bridleway and go straight ahead into the field opening opposite. Follow the field edge grass track as it bends right and then left. At the far end of the field you will pass out through an open gateway to reach a junction with Sunnyhill Lane.

Sunnyhill Lane to End
Sunnyhill Lane to End

Start point: 51.3592 lat, -1.7699 long
End point: 51.3486 lat, -1.7745 long

Cross over the lane and take the stile opposite into the next crop field. Walk straight ahead (at 12 o’clock) across the centre of the field. Go through the gap in the hedge and then cross this larger second field at about 11 o’clock, passing under power lines along the way.

In the bottom boundary you will find a stile (about four trees in from the left-hand corner). Cross this and walk diagonally left (between 10 and 11 o’clock) to reach a stile in the left-hand boundary. Cross the stile and turn right along the access lane.

Follow this access lane and, where it swings right into the stables, keep ahead onto the unmade track. Take care as this section can get very muddy/slippery in the winter and after rain. The track eventually leads you back across the canal (via Bridge 113).

Immediately after the bridge you will see a gate into Jones’s Mill ahead. If you wish, you can extend the walk by exploring this wetland nature reserve (there is a map alongside the gate). Otherwise, turn sharp left to reach the canal towpath. Turn left along the towpath (passing under the bridge). You are now retracing your steps back to the wharf. Simply keep ahead along the towpath which will lead you to the car park where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2015 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


3 responses to "Vale of Pewsey and the Giant's Grave"

A great walk, but you do need a clear sunny day for it as it is very breezy on the top. The climb is well worth it for the fabulous views.

By Lizanne on 2015-05-21 19:57:12

beautiful easy to find walk, good directions and good pub at the end

By Wiltshire on 2015-08-02 15:50:23

A lovely walk with a good variety of terrain and features.

By stevefwalk on 2015-08-29 15:21:37

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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3 images to "Vale of Pewsey and the Giant's Grave"

3933_0Richard1420792670 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970

3933_1Richard1420792670 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970

3933_2Richard1420792670 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970

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