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Salisbury River and Old Sarum

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Salisbury River and Old Sarum
Author: RichardJ, Published: 15 Jan 2012 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Salisbury River and Old Sarum Walking Guidestar1 Salisbury River and Old Sarum Walking Guidestar1 Salisbury River and Old Sarum Walking Guidestar1 Salisbury River and Old Sarum Walking Guidestar0 Salisbury River and Old Sarum Walking Guide
Wiltshire, Salisbury
Walk Type: Footpaths and Byways
Salisbury River and Old Sarum
Length: 6 miles,  Difficulty: boot Salisbury River and Old Sarum Walking Guide boot Salisbury River and Old Sarum Walking Guide
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A 5.5 mile circular walk starting from the market square in the centre of Salisbury in Wiltshire. The walk follows a stretch of the River Avon on the way out to the ancient hill fort of Old Sarum before passing back through the city’s residential suburbs, across railways and roads and through parks.

The walk follows a wide variety of surfaces, from tarmac pavements and paths to playing fields and stone and mud paths. Some of the surfaces will be muddy after wet weather. There are a few steady inclines and a number of easy to use gates, but there are no stiles. The Old Sarum site is open all year but there are restricted daytime opening hours so check before you plan your visit. Dogs are welcome in Old Sarum as long as they are on a lead as there are sheep grazing here. Approximate time 2.5 to 3 hours.

The walk starts from the market square in the centre of Salisbury in Wiltshire. Parking is available in any of the city’s pay and display car parks. Approximate post code SP1 2EF.

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Walk Sections

Market Square to Wooden Bridge
Market Square to Wooden Bridge

Start point: 51.0691 lat, -1.7952 long
End point: 51.0778 lat, -1.8012 long

Leave Market Square in the north-west corner (heading for the library). Cross over the double pedestrian crossing and enter the small covered precinct called Market Walk. As you emerge, cross over the river bridge and then turn immediately right onto Riverside Walk. Continue along the tarmac path with the river on your right.

Veer to the left to skirt round the building at the coach park, then cross over the road and continue ahead along the riverside path. Go under the rail bridge and then the road bridge and continue ahead.

After crossing a zebra crossing on a major road go ahead onto a tarmac path with a large open grass area on the left. Very soon you will reach a wooden bridge over the river on your right.

Wooden Bridge to T-junction
Wooden Bridge to T-junction

Start point: 51.0778 lat, -1.8012 long
End point: 51.0852 lat, -1.8083 long

Cross over the wooden bridge and then turn immediately left along a narrow mud and gravel path with the river now on your left and the leisure centre on your right.

The river is the Avon (one of many called River Avon in the UK) and is thought to contain more species of fish than any other in the UK. The river rises in Wiltshire and passes through Salisbury, then the county of Hampshire before reaching the English Channel via Christchurch Harbour in Dorset.

Follow the footpath along the river ignoring any paths off to the right. Eventually the path is forced away from the river, bending gradually to the right. You will emerge at a T-junction with a tarmac path, turn left here. Continue past fenced horse paddocks on the left and you will reach a T-junction with a road.

T-junction to Old Sarum
T-junction to Old Sarum

Start point: 51.0852 lat, -1.8083 long
End point: 51.0924 lat, -1.801 long

Cross over the road and turn right. Follow the pavement around the first bend and continue for another 200 yards. Immediately after a large thatched cottage, where the road bends to the right, bear left along a narrower stone track called The Portway.

Pass a number of properties on both sides and continue ahead past concrete bollards onto a narrower path with tall hedgerows each side. After some distance you will come to a commemoration stone dedicated to William Pitt, Earl of Chatham on the left.

Towards the top of the hill, where the main track bends right towards the road, fork left through a gap in the hedge and continue straight across the grass field with the hedge on your left.

At the end of the field, pass through the black concrete bollards and turn left. Ahead you will reach the gate which marks the entrance to the Old Sarum site.

Old Sarum to Old Cathedral
Old Sarum to Old Cathedral

Start point: 51.0924 lat, -1.801 long
End point: 51.0939 lat, -1.8065 long

Go through the first gate, and then ahead through the second gate onto the tarmac entrance road to Old Sarum.

You can choose your own route to explore the Old Sarum site here, or follow the one set out below which explores the outer ramparts and the ruins of the Old Cathedral.

Old Sarum is managed by English Heritage and is the site of the earliest settlement of Salisbury, with evidence of human habitation as early as 3000BC. During the Iron Age a fort was built on the hill and its white chalk ramparts dominated the landscape emphasising the power of its builders. It was later occupied by the Romans, the Saxons and then by the Normans who rebuilt the fort in stone. By early medieval times a castle, cathedral and thriving market town all prospered here.

Turn off left though a kissing gate to access the grass ramparts (please note there are sheep grazing here so dogs need to be on leads and under close control). Follow the ridge of the outer ramparts, enjoying the views across to the right and appreciating the excellent line of defence that the steep earth slopes would have created.

Half way round, turn left on the narrow path to access the inner area of the ramparts. Over to the left you will find the remains of the old cathedral.

Old Cathedral to Castle Road
Old Cathedral to Castle Road

Start point: 51.0939 lat, -1.8065 long
End point: 51.088 lat, -1.799 long

Old Sarum Cathedral was a Norman cathedral. After the Norman conquest of England in 1066, William the Conqueror used Old Sarum as a base of operations. He appointed his nephew, Osmund de Sees, as his chancellor and the Bishop of Salisbury. Osmund had the first cathedral at Old Sarum completed in 1092. At its greatest the cathedral was 56 metres end to end and was built in the standard cruciform shape.

Continue your route around Old Sarum by following the inner ramparts. When you reach the tarmac access road, turn right and then pass back through the two gates to the right to where you entered the site.

Pass back through the black concrete bollards into the small grass field. Cut across the middle of this field and go through a gap in hedge to access Hudson’s Playing Fields ahead. Go straight across the playing fields, heading for the far left corner of the field with a gate out onto Castle Road.

Castle Road to Footbridge
Castle Road to Footbridge

Start point: 51.088 lat, -1.799 long
End point: 51.0769 lat, -1.7953 long

Pass through the gap and turn right onto the pavement alongside Castle Road. Pass two mini roundabouts and then the Co-op on your right. Immediately afterwards turn right through the gates into Victoria Park, and follow the tarmac path ahead with the hedge on your left. Continue past the car park and a children’s play area. Eventually you will reach the main park gated entrance ahead.

Pass through the gate and cross over Castle Road using the pedestrian crossing to your left. Turn right and then immediately left into Victoria Road. Keep right onto the dead end branch of Victoria Road. At the end of the road you will reach the circular access ramp to the footbridge.

Footbridge to Market Square
Footbridge to Market Square

Start point: 51.0769 lat, -1.7953 long
End point: 51.0697 lat, -1.7939 long

Use the footbridge to cross the ring road, and then go over the small rail bridge. Continue ahead along the residential road. At the crossroads go straight on into Swaynes Close. At the end of the road, go ahead onto a tarmac path with tall trees and a playing field on the left and garages on the right. Turn right through the car park at the end, and then turn left onto the tarmac footpath heading alongside the church.

Pass the church, which is now Salisbury Arts Centre, on your left. The centre was founded in 1975 and the building was formerly St Edmund’s, named after St Edmund who taught ‘the arts’ at Oxford in the early 13th Century. The arts centre has limited opening times so check before your walk if you want to visit.

At the T-junction with Bedwin Street, cross over and turn right. Turn left down Rollestone Street and then right down Winchester Street and you will emerge at Market Square where you started your walk.

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

2 comments for "Salisbury River and Old Sarum"

Lovely walk, easy to follow directions. We improvised a different route back to the city centre.

By ibumtigers on 07 Oct 2014

Nationwide has moved so start the walk from the covered Market Walk next to the library in Market Place.

ADMIN RESPONSE: Many thanks for letting us know, we have updated the walk so that future walkers have the latest facts.

By gillround on 05 Feb 2016

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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