Neolithic Tour

An almost entirely off-road route around the ancient landscape of the North Wessex Downs.

Starting in Foxhill the route tracks the chalky Ridgeway eastwards with far reaching views. It isn't long before you pass Waylands Smithy, an ancient longbarrow over 5,000 years old. The landscape is believed to have inspired parts of J.R.R. Tolkein's Lord of the Rings. Above Wantage it turns south heading towards the historic village of Lambourn, centre of the "Valley of the Race Horse".

From here it loops round to Aldbourne via a long fast gravel descent. Once through the village it climbs a tough off-road track over to Ramsbury where it crosses the River Kennet via two fords (which include bridges).

It next climbs south-west out of the valley and after crossing the A4 there's a few kilometres of road to the ancient Savernake Forest. Heading directly to the centre via the gravelly Grand Avenue it takes a left to take you deeper into the forest but still on trodden tracks and paths. For a while you're immersed in thick woodland. You exit the forest and cross the A436 to start heading west on a dismantled railway. Once off this you climb the majestic Martinsell Hill, previously home to a fort. The views at the top across the Pewsey Vale are breathtaking and a perfect place for a picnic stop.

A short run along the A345 takes the route to a lumpy track along the edge of West Woods. You then climb Milk Hill via the ancient earthwork Wansdyke. This starts near Savernake Forest and continues all the way to Maes Knoll just south of Bristol. Fortunately the route doesn't go that far! After cresting Tan Hill with vast views over Devizes and across to Salisbury Plain it turns north and descends towards Avebury passing West Kennet Longbarrow and Silbury Hill.

After Avebury it rejoins the Ridgeway but rather than following this all the way it diverts over Fyfield Down's valley of stones (where Stonehenge's large Sarsen Trilithon stones came from). It's a much better surface that the lumpy and rutted Ridgeway across Monkton Down.

It rejoins the Ridgeway on Hackpen Hill and then ascends Barbury Castle. From here it descends to the River Og valley via Smeathe's Ridge, crosses the A436 and continues up on the Ridgeway to Liddington Castle, a great place to watch the sunset. It's a short drop back down to Foxhill to complete the loop.