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Ramsbury and Littlecote House

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Ramsbury and Littlecote House
Author: Claire, Published: 17 Sep 2016 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Ramsbury and Littlecote House Walking Guide star1 Ramsbury and Littlecote House Walking Guide star1 Ramsbury and Littlecote House Walking Guide star1 Ramsbury and Littlecote House Walking Guide star1 Ramsbury and Littlecote House Walking Guide
Wiltshire, Marlborough
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
Ramsbury and Littlecote House
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot Ramsbury and Littlecote House Walking Guide boot Ramsbury and Littlecote House Walking Guide
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A 5 mile circular walk from the gorgeous village of Ramsbury in Wiltshire. The route crosses the River Kennet before joining the peaceful woodland tracks and field edge tracks that guide you around the rolling countryside surrounding Littlecote Park. Along the way you will have chance to see the impressive Littlecote House, a Tudor mansion with a fascinating history, and also visit the extraordinary Roman mosaic within the grounds.

The walk follows unmade tracks and concrete tracks throughout, all of which are a generous width. The surfaces are firm in the drier months but the chalk can be muddy and slippery in the winter and after rain. Aside from one climb near the start of the walk, the gradients are fairly gentle throughout. There is no livestock on route, but there are plenty of game birds around so take care with dogs. There are no gates, steps or stiles on route. The climb and walk length will probably prevent taking a pushchair on the route, but in the drier months it should be possible to take a rugged disability buggy around the walk. Allow 2.5 hours.

The village of Ramsbury sits within the Kennet Valley in Wiltshire, very close to the boundary with Berkshire. It lies 12 miles south of Swindon and can be accessed via Jn14 of the M4. The walk starts and finishes in the village square at the centre of Ramsbury. This is marked by a triangular green with an oak tree and is where High Street and Oxford Street meet. There is plenty of roadside parking within the village, but please park with respect for the residents. Approximate post code SN8 2PE.

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Walk Sections

Start to Concrete Track
Start to Concrete Track

Start point: 51.4425 lat, -1.605 long
End point: 51.4343 lat, -1.5917 long

Begin the walk by standing within Ramsbury village square, facing the frontage of The Bell pub. Take the road just to the right of the pub, signed to Hungerford, Scholard’s Lane. The road leads you past a number of charming properties, including the large thatched cottage called The Boot. Take the first turning on the right, signed to Froxfield. Follow this road, taking care of traffic, as it crosses over two branches of the River Kennet. The lane leads you into a small collection of properties. Immediately before the first house on the left, turn left onto the tarmac side track, a bridleway signed to Littlecote House.

Follow this tarmac track passing a couple of properties on your right and, immediately afterwards, turn right onto the grass and stone track (signed as a bridleway). Follow this grass bridleway track as it leads you steadily uphill with a large crop field on your left. You will pass a bench on your right, ideal for enjoying the valley views that have opened up behind you.

Continue ahead on the bridleway leading you uphill through some trees. Take care as this chalk surface can be very slippery when wet. Keep on the main path as it bears slightly right, leading you uphill through the woodland to the top of the hill and then gently descending with ancient beech trees on your left and coppiced hazel on your right. You will emerge to the corner of a concrete track.

Concrete Track to Access Track
Concrete Track to Access Track

Start point: 51.4343 lat, -1.5917 long
End point: 51.4296 lat, -1.5834 long

Keep straight ahead along this concrete track, leading you steadily downhill. At the bottom of the slope you will come to a junction of tracks. Turn left here and follow this side branch of the concrete track which leads you through another section of trees before emerging to a T-junction with a quiet access track.

Access Track to Littlecote House
Access Track to Littlecote House

Start point: 51.4296 lat, -1.5834 long
End point: 51.4308 lat, -1.5635 long

Turn left along this access track, with a line of trees running on your left and a crop field sloping up to your right. Stay with this access track for about 400 metres, to reach a wide metal gate. Pass through or alongside this and ignore the side track to the left. Simply keep ahead on the main access track which climbs steadily passing under the boughs of large trees. At the end of this stretch of track you will come to a junction with a tarmac access drive (with vehicle no entry signs ahead).

Turn left here along the driveway, heading for the Tudor mansion, Littlecote House. Follow the driveway to reach the junction with the ornate black metal gates of Littlecote House directly ahead. The building has a fascinating history…

The first Littlecote House was built in the 1200s, but the present building dates from the late-1500s. In its various guises the property has played host to occupying Romans, a Tudor romance, a Civil War army and the planning of the D-Day landings. The most famous historical event here was in 1520, when Henry VIII was introduced to his third queen-to be, Jane Seymour. The event is marked by a wonderful stained-glass roundel of royal initials, lovers’ knot and Cupid’s head that is still present in the high window of the Great Hall. Today the building serves as a country house hotel.

Littlecote House to Roman Mosaic
Littlecote House to Roman Mosaic

Start point: 51.4308 lat, -1.5635 long
End point: 51.4338 lat, -1.5698 long

Standing facing the house, turn left along the tarmac drive. When the garden wall on your right ends, keep straight ahead through the avenue of lime trees. At the end of the avenue, your route will eventually continue on the bridleway directly ahead, but first it is worth making a detour to visit the impressive Roman remains.

To do this, turn right along the stone track and then fork left across the grass to reach the stone wall foundation remains of an old Roman villa. The covered building just behind the main ruins is home to the beautiful Roman mosaic pavement which is a must-see. Take time to explore the site. (If you have a dog with you that is looking for a drink, then there is access to the River Kennet just behind the covered mosaic). There are several information boards that explain lots of the history, plus some more information below…

It is probable that this Roman settlement began life soon after the Roman invasion of 43AD as a temporary military post, guarding the river crossing point. This evolved into a farming community, growing all the time with clear evidence of baking ovens, malting tanks, grinding stones, underfloor heating chambers, residential rooms, sunken baths, workshops and a detached smoke house for curing meat and fish. There were several mosaic floors created within the later buildings, the most impressive of which is the Orpheus Mosaic, which you can view within the covered building. This was first uncovered in 1727 but soon reburied and then rediscovered in 1977 when it was restored. Tap the listen button below (App only) to find out more…

Roman Mosaic to Froxfield Road
Roman Mosaic to Froxfield Road

Start point: 51.4338 lat, -1.5698 long
End point: 51.4398 lat, -1.6008 long

When you have finished enjoying the Roman remains, retrace your steps back to the end of the lime tree avenue. Take the continuation of this bridleway, an unmade track with a line of trees to your right and a large open crop field to your left. At the end of this long track, you will emerge onto a gravel driveway. Bear right along this driveway, passing the pretty brick cottage (with its rounded turret end) on your left. Continue along the access track for some distance and eventually you will merge with the track from your outward leg, emerging to the T-junction with Froxfield Road.

Froxfield Road to End
Froxfield Road to End

Start point: 51.4398 lat, -1.6008 long
End point: 51.4429 lat, -1.605 long

From this point you will be re-tracing your steps back into Ramsbury. To do this, turn right along the road and follow it back across the River Kennet. Just after the main river crossing you will find an accessible part of the river on your left, should your dog need to cool off or get a drink. At the T-junction with the village road, turn left and follow Scholard’s Lane back into the village square. You might want to explore the village if you have the time.

The settlement dates back to pre-1000. The village expanded throughout the Middle Ages and, by the 1600s, it was home to many trades principally linked with leather working; curriers, tanners, glove-makers and shoemakers. By 1790, the village was home to a thriving brewing industry, with beer exported to London. For centuries, Ramsbury was famous for its large wych-elm tree which grew in the village square. In its prime, it is said that the tree branches touched buildings on all sides. It died in 1983, probably approaching 250 years old, and an oak tree now stands in its place.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2016 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.

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 gallery images for "Ramsbury and Littlecote House"

6621_0Richard1474189588 Ramsbury and Littlecote House Walking Guide Image by: RichardJ
Uploaded: 18 Sep 2016
It's worth taking the detour to see the mosaics.
6621_1Richard1474189589 Ramsbury and Littlecote House Walking Guide Image by: RichardJ
Uploaded: 18 Sep 2016
The roman remains are good to see too. (Looks like it may have been a good place to live?)
6621_2Richard1474189589 Ramsbury and Littlecote House Walking Guide Image by: RichardJ
Uploaded: 18 Sep 2016
The River Kennet.


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