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Walking the Ridgeway

Published: Apr 4, 2024 by

Walking the ridgeway national trail

Read all about my adventures walking the ridgeway in April 2024

This year in April 2024, I walked the ridgeway national trail with my brother and brother-in-law. I really enjoyed the experience, and saw all kinds of scenery, as well as all kinds of weather, throughout the week.

When we left home there was a named storm, Kathleen, heading our way. Luckily it was located further to the north and west but we would get high winds in the area we were walking and staying. No matter how much planning and preparation you do, you can’t control the weather, but we felt well prepared with the right equipment packed.

Preparation and planning

Back in September 2023 I had the idea of walking the ridgeway national trail. At first I thought we could do it in October that year, but it was a bit short notice to get everything sorted and it seems to take a long time to get a time when everyone could get together to discuss the plans, let alone do the walk. In the end we did manage to meet up and agreed a date in April 2024, after the Easter weekend.

This would give us plenty of time to get the campsites booked and gather any equipment needed.

Our original plan was to try and keep to around 12 miles per day, or 4 to 5 hours of walking at 2.5 to 3 miles per hour on average. This would allow us time to rest and enjoy the walk, rather than trying to fit too much into each day.

I bought two guidebooks to see what they suggested for an itinerary.

Both books were very interesting, but I preferred the Trailblazer guide as it seemed to be more up to date and the hand drawn maps had a lot of useful details and notes added. My brother preferred the OS style maps of the Cicerone book so he kept hold of that book.

After doing some initial reading we soon discovered that the first part of the ridgeway is quite remote and there were not many camp sites or places to stay that near to it. Being on a ridge, hence the name, it would involve walking down the hill to villages and back up to the ridge to continue.

We could have done some wild camping, which my brother was all up for, but the thought of carrying everything on my back for a week was a bit of a put off for me. Maybe when I am a more seasoned hiker I will change my mind, but this was all new to me. I had done a bit of hiking before over long weekends, but never a whole week at a time.

In the end we decided to have a few different camp sites throughout the week and do a car shuffle each day, driving both cars to the end, parking one and then driving the other back to the start and doing the days walk. Then at the end driving back to pick up the other car before heading back to the camp site. This seemed fine and worked out ok, but it resulted in some fairly long drives, especially along narrow roads, many with 20 miles per hour speed limits for the safety of the village residents.


We picked three campsites for the week. They were all very different from each other but I would recommend them all to others.

We started at Postern Hill camp site which is just outside Marlborough, staying here for three nights. It is a Forestry England campsite and is in a clearing within the forest. It was up on a hill, but the trees offered some shelter from the high winds at the time. This year had been very wet and the ground was very soft when we got there. The staff were really great, helping us pick the best spot to camp, probably the highest point of the camp site, so that our tent would keep dry on the wet ground.

The campsite had toilets and sinks, but didn’t have any showers. This took a bit of getting used to on the first morning, but after a couple of days walking and being out in the elements we got used to it. There was a footpath down into Marlborough, but we cheated and drove into town for a meal one night instead.

The second camp site was just outside Wallingford, in Crowmarsh Gifford, called Bridge Villa , where we stayed two nights. This was in a lovely location between the river and the village, with a short walk over the bridge over the river to Wallingford, where there is a lovely selection of pubs to choose from and a large Waitrose in the town centre.

The camp site itself was fabulous. We had a great pitch with hedges on two sides, giving us a lot of shelter, as well as privacy, from the other guests. This campsite had showers and they were fabulous, especially after not having access to them for the four days previous!

The final campsite was near Wendover woods, up on a hillside at the aptly named Hill Farm where we stayed for the last two nights. This campsite was probably the most remote of the three, but it had lovely views to wake up to, looking out across the hills towards Tring. When we arrived it was quite windy with mist rolling in, but it had cleared by the morning.

One great thing about this campsite was that it was less than a mile’s walk from the ridgeway which allowed us to walk back to the campsite on one of the days (and it had showers too!).


We each took a day pack with roughly the following items in:

  • Water bottle or water bladder
  • Packed lunch, normally sandwiches and cereal bars, maybe a pork pie.
  • First aid kit (including blister plasters)
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof trousers (depending on the weather forecast)
  • A jumper or fleece
  • Lightweight windproof jacket
  • Guide book
  • Sanitizer or antibacterial hand wipes
  • Hat and gloves
  • Waterproof backpack cover

I had a 2 litre water bladder with a drinks hose. This made it easy to drink whenever I needed some throughout the day without stopping to get a bottle out of my bag. I filled it completely on the first day, but noticed I only drank just over 1.5 litres so I didn’t fully fill it the rest of the days.

Some of the days there was no where to stop for a tea or coffee so it was important to ensure we had enough water for the day.

I also bought some kendal mint cake in my bag just in case, but I only really felt like I needed it on the day we did over 15 miles.

The walking

I have broken down each day of the walk into a separate post. We started off doing a circular warm up walk around Avebury stone circle on the Friday and started walking the ridgeway on the Saturday, finishing on the following Friday.

Some of the guides state you can walk the ridgeway in 4 or 5 days, but we wanted to take our time and enjoy it as much as we could. We also had to factor in the time needed for doing the car shuffle and unpacking and packing up the tent when needed.

This was also the first national trail that we had walked so wanted to err on the side of caution and not push our luck with too many miles per day.


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Ridgeway day 7 - Wendover woods to Ivinghoe Beacon - 9 miles
Ridgeway day 7 - Wendover woods to Ivinghoe Beacon - 9 miles

Wow, we were almost there! One last day of walking to reach Ivinghoe Beacon and the sun had come out too!

Ridgeway day 6 - Whiteleaf Hill, near Princess Risborough to Hill Farm camp site - 10 miles
Ridgeway day 6 - Whiteleaf Hill, near Princess Risborough to Hill Farm camp site - 10 miles

Despite the windy conditions I slept very well that night, obviously needing the rest, and woke up feeling much better. My brother-in-law offered me his spare pair of walking shoes. I looked at my own boots and shuddered at the thought of putting them back on again and said yes to the loaned shoes. They were so much more comfortable straight away.

Ridgeway day 5 - Near Watlington to Princess Risborough - 12.5 miles
Ridgeway day 5 - Near Watlington to Princess Risborough - 12.5 miles

Watlington was quite a charming little village the first time we drove through it, but after driving back and forth doing the car shuffle we realised it would probably be better if there was a bypass of some sort. The streets were very narrow and couldn’t really cope with the large 4x4’s driving through it.