The Ridgeway is 85 miles long, running from Ivinghoe Beacon to Avebury. It crosses the Thames at Streatley / Goring - the two villages are on opposite banks of the river, Streatley on the western side, Goring with its railway station to the east. The first half of the walk follows the northern escarpment of the Chilterns, while the second clings to the edge of the great sweep of chalk that encircles the valley of the Kennet. It is a journey of some contrast, partly wooded in the east, more open in the west; the two sections varied by four or five miles of river valley between Wallingford and Streatley.
As regards public transport, Avebury can be reached by bus from Swindon, Marlborough or Devizes, though not after five in the afternoon and not on Sunday. If you are finishing there, keep an eye on the clock: if you miss the last bus it's a fairly expensive taxi ride back to civilization. The nearest train station to Ivinghoe Beacon is at Tring. Tring station is actually on the Ridgeway itself, so it would be possible to follow the path the few miles back to the start, then turn round and retrace your footsteps. Not a very satisfactory way of beginning the trip, perhaps. A better approach might be to catch the rather infrequent bus the mile and a half into Tring (or you could walk). From there the hourly Aylesbury to Luton service runs from the town centre, stopping at the foot of the Beacon.
The eastern section keeps fairly close to civilization, for anyone requiring inns, bed and breakfast or camp-sites (the one at Watlington is not bad, according to a fellow walker Chris Richards. Handy for the pub too! You could also have a look at the Cherry Tree at Kingston Blount, just outside Chinnor, though I haven't stayed there myself). After Streatley there are fewer places to eat and sleep. There are Youth Hostels at Streatley and at the Ridgeway Centre, about a third of the way along the western half - more useful perhaps if you are planning to cover this section in three days rather than two. And there are pubs at Fox Hill and at Ogbourne St. George (the Old Crown at Ogbourne, now calling itself The Inn With The Well, is praised by the same intrepid traveller). For the rest, there are various hostelries in the chain of villages that lie at the foot of the escarpment, though I have never fancied the extra miles and the four hundred foot climb to regain the path the next morning. I prefer to take a sleeping bag!
- I have a sentimental fondness for this article by Peter Chatfield. It was reading it some years ago which inspired me to start creating my own site. So you can blame him!
- David Cotton's account.
- Another one, though I'm not sure who by.
- Friends of the Ridgeway: more about the walk.
- Ramblers Association:accommodation service, route information.
- National Trails
- Rural Ways