Compared with the Pennine Way or the Peninsular Coast Path, The Ridgeway is undemanding, with easy gradients, but it traverses a great variety of countryside. The western half, from Avebury to the Goring Gap, is the classic Ridgeway, a track over open downs. On this section there are few villages on the line of the path and walkers should take care to carry enough drink. Most pubs too are off the line of the Trail, but many, like the the Royal Oak at Bishopstone, are well worth a detour. Much of the eastern half, along the Thames and through the Chilterns, is on footpaths or bridleways, often through noble beech woodlands, the line alternating between the edge of the hills and the Vale beneath, where it often follows the Icknield Way track. The eastern section passes through or near to a number of villages, and is better provided with facilities for accommodation and refreshment.
Some sections are still Byways Open to All Traffic, where you are likely to encounter motorbikes or 4WD vehicles, though seasonal Traffic Regulation Orders are enforced during the winter to protect the surface.
New legislation has reclassified as Restricted Byways the long sections of the western half that used to be Roads Used as Public paths, effecting the legal exclusion of recreational motor vehicles throughout the year.
Many of the towns and villages along or in easy reach of the Trail are well worth a visit for their heritage and townscape interest, besides offering accommodation, refreshment and other facilities. The communities below are just some of our partners in welcoming walkers and other users of The Ridgeway.
Goring and Streatley: www.goring-on-thames.co.uk
Princes Risborough: www.princesrisborough.com
The National Trails website has a very useful section entitled Planning a Trip — this includes tips about:
Click on the links in the menu for more detail about accommodation and maps, as well as to view satellite/aerial images of the famous sites or to find the National Trails Office leaflets describing circular walks from the Trail.
Note our new section entitled Walking The Ridgeway: this section carries material supplied by Anthony Burton, author of a guide to The Ridgeway and presenter of a DVD about the Trail. He has supplied us with material describing each section of the Trail. Click here for more information.