We are so lucky to be in situated in The North Wessex Downs, the third-largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the country spanning 700 square miles of remote chalk downland. The area offers refreshing walks, big skies and breathtaking views. The area is also famous for bridleways which make for fantastic cycling and, of course, wonderful horse riding.
Enjoy The North Wessex Downs in winter and you may spot birds of prey like kites, buzzard or short ear owls hunting for their dinner, or animal tracks in the snow if we are lucky this year! Those distinctive heart-shaped prints are deer tracks, and you’re also likely to see a rabbit or fox. Bare trees form dramatic silhouettes against a winter sky. Ice-covered puddles provide hours of fun for small people on winter walks, wrapped up well with baked potatoes in coat pockets to keep fingers warm or tummies full.
One of the most spectacular sights is heavy morning mists or hoar frost, when a silver sheet covers the grass along chalk escarpments. Head for the White Horses of Alton Barnes, Broad Hinton and Uffington on a sunny morning for the best views or check out the red holly berries and white mistletoe in the North Wessex Downs woodlands like Savernake and West Woods.
Wherever you are in The North Wessex Downs you won’t be too far from a friendly local pub to warm up in after your walk!
The world-famous Uffington White Horse and Avebury Stone circle are located on the Ridgeway path running across the north of the region along with many other ancient barrows and hill forts.
Close to major conurbations, the Downs is the ideal place to get away from it all and enjoy the freedom of the countryside while respecting the environment. There are many footpaths, horse riding trails and cycle paths crisscrossing the landscape and taking in many of the best views and ancient monuments. If you prefer to travel by water you can hire a canal boat or go canoeing along the Kennet and Avon Canal.
The North Wessex Downs has a great industrial heritage. At the Crofton Pumping Station on the Kennet and Avon Canal, you can see the world’s oldest steam engines or visit the only working windmill in Wessex at Wilton. There are also fine country houses. Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey) has impressive staterooms, an Egyptian exhibition and wonderful grounds to walk.
How to reach the North Wessex Downs
By Car: Junctions 12 – 15 of the M4 bring you right into the North Wessex Downs.
By Train: the area is well serviced by trains out of London: Great Western main line (Paddington to Bristol/Swansea, Oxford, Birmingham and Hereford), Berks and Hants (GW) main line (Paddington to Penzance) and LSW main line (Waterloo to Salisbury/Exeter).
The main stations in the North Wessex Downs are: Hungerford (W Berks), Great Bedwyn (Wilts), Pewsey (Wilts), Whitchurch (Hants), Overton (Wilts), Goring & Streatley (Berks/Oxon). Nearby are: Swindon, Newbury and Didcot.
For public transport information visit National Rail Enquiries.