North Wessex Downs Walk
Uffington Castle, the White Horse and Wayland's Smithy
|Ordnance Survey Explorer 170||Sheet Map||1:25k||BUY|
|Anquet OS Explorer 170||Digital Map||1:25k||BUY|
|Ordnance Survey Landranger 174||Sheet Map||1:50k||BUY|
|Anquet OS Landranger 174||Digital Map||1:50k||BUY|
It is recommended you take a map. The preferred scale is 1:25k.
Walk Route Description
This walk explores both the downs to south of the Vale of the White Horse and the pleasant Oxfordshire countryside within the vale itself. In addition the route allows exploration of a number of ancient monuments including the White Horse, Uffington Castle and the Long Barrow at Wayland's Smithy together with a section of the Ridgeway one of Britain's oldest thoroughfares. Additionally the route lies within the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The start is at the White Horse pay and display car park (grid ref. SU293865) which is signed off the B4507 Ashbury to Wantage road near the village of Woolstone. Exit the parking area and cross the downs on a wide grassy path. Cross the narrow tarmac lane and continue ahead following the signs to the viewpoint for the White Horse. As might be expected, it is quite difficult to fully appreciate the horse at close quarters although you are able to understand how it has been built.
To continue, return to the main path and walk uphill towards the trig point and adjacent Uffington Castle. This impressive earthwork is all that remains of a large Iron Age hill fort. Continue past the fort to a gate in the ridge fence (grid ref. SU301862) adjacent to the Ridgeway. Go through the gate and turn left along the Ridgeway. After a short way you will reach a footpath sign and stile on your left just before the fence ends.
Cross the stile and walk downhill with the fence on your right. This path leads down to a road at the base of Dragon Hill (grid ref. SU300867), which is a natural rather than man-made feature. Turn right along the road to reach the B4507. Go straight across and follow the lane towards Uffington. After half a mile take the clearly signed footpath on the left (grid ref. SU303880). This leads across fields to a lane. Turn left along the lane and walk into the village of Woolstone with its pretty thatched cottages. Walk past the pub, keeping its entrance on your left, and where the lane bears sharp right continue ahead on a signed footpath.
This leads across a field to a green lane (grid ref. SU288875). Turn left and start to climb up to the B4507. At the main road turn right. There is a grass verge if you don't want to walk on the road. After 300 yards or so, take the signed footpath on the left. Do be careful crossing the road as the sighting distance is limited. This enclosed path continues to climb between shrubs and trees eventually leading out onto a large field. When this route was researched the field had been ploughed and the footpath route impossible to identify. The right of way crosses this field in a similar direction to the path just walked. Once over the first brow you can see a footpath sign on the Ridgeway, which provides guidance on the path direction.
Once at the Ridgeway turn right and continue along this ancient track as far as the Long Barrow at Wayland's Smithy (grid ref. SU282854). This is another excellent example of a burial mound with the entrance protected by large stones. Once you have explored the site return east along the Ridgeway. Continue past where you joined the track a few minutes ago towards Uffington Castle. At the next junction turn left. This leads down to the car park used at the start of the walk.
Other walks nearby
Walk 3116 Uffington White Horse & Wayland's Smithy - easy - 3.3 miles/5.3 km
Walk 1554 Wayland's Smithy & Uffington Castle from Woolstone - easy/mod - 5.5 miles/8.9 km
Walk 2410 Wayland's Smithy, Ashdown House and Ashbury - easy/mod - 7.5 miles/12.2 km
Walk 1419 The Lambourn Downs - moderate - 14.0 miles/22.8 km
Walk 3630 Longcot & Uffington Circular - easy - 5.2 miles/8.5 km
Walk 1069 Badbury Hill, including the Great Barn at Great Coxwell - easy - 6.0 miles/9.8 km
Walk 1061 Faringdon, Radcot and Littleworth - easy/mod - 8.0 miles/13 km
Walk 1063 Buckland & Pusey from Faringdon - easy/mod - 10.5 miles/17.1 km
Walk 1064 Faringdon Folly, Buckland Warren and Hatford - easy/mod - 8.0 miles/13 km
Walk 1066 Faringdon, Wicklesham, The Folly & Folly Park - easy - 4.0 miles/6.5 km
Recommended Books & eBooks
Walking in the North Wessex Downs
30 walking routes exploring the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The routes are between 7km to 20km through this peaceful rolling chalk landscape covering parts of four counties: Berkshire, Hampshire, Wiltshire and Oxfordshire, with descriptions to reach the highest points in each one.
The National Trails
This inspirational guidebook looks at each of the UK's 19 National Trails, with information that allows ease of comparison and contrast, inspiring you to find out more and to take up a long-distance challenge. Some Trails are short and easy, others much longer, many have strong themes - they may follow a coastline, or traverse ranges of hills.