The Ridgeway is one of the most ancient roads in the world. Not only was it built along a high, sturdy chalk ridge that makes it a dry, dependable path for walking, but it has successfully carried people for over 5000 years.
This long road, travelled by traders and knights long ago, offers several kid-friendly shorter portions to explore. Be warned, if you try to hike the whole thing at once it is a lengthy 140km!!
Along the route, which cuts through rolling farmlands and follows the uplands of the Downs, you can find incredible markers of the past, including pieces from the Neolithic, Iron Age and Bronze age. From strong-hold hill forts to magical, mysterious burial grounds, this route has a mystic charm to cast a spell over you and your entire family.
Fantastic Walks for Families
Taking hikes with your family is not only an excellent opportunity to get outside and stretch your legs, but it can be a great opportunity to explore some history.
The Ridgeway takes you truly back in time. Ancient stones standing along the way posed in bizarre formations. The white chalk that forms the Uffington White Horse presents a striking contrast to the bright green of the highlands. The stories and myths around these ancient markers are sure to inspire curious minds.
Avebury Stone Loop
The Avesbury Circular Stones can mark both the beginning and end of this section. These megalithic circular formations were important to the Neolithic people, though no one can say for sure what happened there. What we do know is that it was both a burial site and an honoured ceremonial enclave. This particular formation of stones is said to be older than Stonehenge itself
From the stones, you can head towards the Ridgeway trail where you will find burial grounds marked by trees gathered in bunches. These barrows (burial grounds) are also known as “hedgehogs” by the locals for their distinctive spikey shape when seen from a distance.
Castles weren’t always the Disney designed stone and mote constructs. Here’s a little lesson in the castles of the Iron Age, when vantage point was key. The Barbury Hill formed a natural refuge and was converted into a hill-fort to protect the locals. It is also believed to have been a place of festivity and celebration.
Starting from the Barbury Castle Country Park car park, you have a small climb to the top where you will find the beautiful countryside views. The hill itself is a perfect place to teach your kids how to play King of the Hill or King of the Castle. I guess both names apply here.
White Horse, Uffington
This incredible figure of a horse (or maybe a dragon) has several stories about its origin. Whether horse goddess, Celtic legend or the dragon defeated by Saint George, passing this prehistoric chalk silhouette is a great time for storytelling.
A bit more lengthy, this route is more suitable for longer legs and those able to hike up hills. For a shorter walk, you can skip the visit to Wayland’s Smithy.
You see plenty of sights on this walk and is a great one to turn into a mystical walk to get your kid’s imagination going. As well as the mysterious white horse on the hill, there’s the George and Dragon story, an ancient hill fort, the ancient ridgeway, and the story of a helpful ghost at Wayland’s Smithy.
Plan Your Adventure
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Go on, get your boots on!
Give this walks a try.
Remember to come back here and rate each route after you’ve done them.
Happy walking! 🙂
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