The Friends of The Ridgeway is a registered charity (No 1107926). We are a voluntary organisation set up in 1982 to campaign against the destructive and intrusive use of The Ridgeway Trail by non-essential motor vehicles and to preserve and maintain the special nature of The Ridgeway.

Our Objects, as set out in our Constitution, are the preservation of the Ancient Ridgeway track-ways along the chalk downs of Southern England, including The Ridgeway National Trail, and related activities.

We are run by an Executive Committee, elected annually, and the current members are-

Chairman: Anthony Burdall, Faringdon, Oxon;

Secretary: Jeff Goddard, Reading, Berks;

Treasurer: John Edgerton, Swindon;

Sally Barnes, Stanford-in-the-Vale;

Jim Gunter, Broad Hinton, Swindon;

The Ridgeway National Trail is maintained as a public facility by the Ridgeway Partnership, set up in 2015 as one of the new National Trails Partnerships called for by Natural England, the quango responsible for the National Trails network in England.  We were a founding partner of this new body, and play an active role in its operations. The Ridgeway Partnership employs a Ridgeway Officer based with Oxfordshire Countryside Services, assisted by an efficient Volunteer scheme and maintenance operation.  We are therefore not directly involved in maintenance of the Trail, but work closely with and support the  Ridgeway Officer and Volunteers. Our members help to monitor the condition of the Trail, and some are also Volunteers.

We also strongly support the public bodies responsible for the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) respectively The Chilterns Conservation Board, and The North Wessex Downs AONB,  in their mission to protect and preserve the precious countryside landscapes linked by The Ridgeway. We lobby for better public transport connections and improved facilities for users, and we do what we can to promote and raise awareness of The Ridgeway.

We monitor planning applications and try to resist inappropriate developments near or in sight of the Trail.  We share your concerns for the peace and beauty of your environment, and for our heritage of these ancient roads.  Please let us know if they are in danger and we shall support you in trying to protect them.

Since the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act, 2006, restrictions on motor vehicle use have been applied to most of the byway sections of the National Trail, hugely improving surface standards.  This has enabled us to focus more on raising public awareness of The Ridgeway, and encouraging more people to visit its historic sites, to appreciate its flora and fauna and to quietly enjoy the wonderfully varied scenery along the 85-mile length of the National Trail, and the much greater extent of its associated paths.

We have also been able to widen our focus beyond the National Trail, to the ancient Ridgeway system as a whole.  In accordance with this we have proposed a southwards extension of the Ridgeway path to Old Sarum near Salisbury, named “The Great Stones Way”, linking Avebury and Stonehenge. The route has not yet been launched due to some local opposition, but a Guide to the route as conceived has been published by Cicerone Press.  There is also this excellent video which gives you a virtual journey along the Great Stones Way Virtual Walk.

We have over 500 members and correspondents, and we publish printed Annual Reports, and send out quarterly e-Newsletters.  Our Annual General Meeting is held in the spring at a venue near to The Ridgeway to which the public is invited.  We have launched the Swire Ridgeway Arts Prize and the winning and other entries will be exhibited at the AGM.  A thriving Vale of White Horse Local Group of members runs speaker meetings, walks and other events, often open to the public.