Length - 6.5 miles / 10.6 km
Ascent - 700 feet / 212 metres
Grade - easy/mod
Start - OS grid reference SU293865
Lat 51.576608 + Long -1.5785844
Postcode SN6 8NT (approx. location only)
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.
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