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The Ridgeway
The Ridgeway
is a ridgeway or ancient trackway described as Britain's oldest road. The section clearly identified as an ancient trackway extends from Wiltshire
Wiltshire
along the chalk ridge of the Berkshire Downs
Berkshire Downs
to the River Thames
River Thames
at the Goring Gap, part of the Icknield Way
Icknield Way
which ran, not always on the ridge, from Salisbury Plain
Salisbury Plain
to East Anglia.[2] The route was adapted and extended as a National Trail, created in 1972. The Ridgeway
The Ridgeway
National Trail follows the ancient Ridgeway from Overton Hill, near Avebury, to Streatley, then follows footpaths and parts of the ancient Icknield Way
Icknield Way
through the Chiltern Hills
Chiltern Hills
to Ivinghoe Beacon
Ivinghoe Beacon
in Buckinghamshire. The National Trail is 87 miles (140 km) long.

Contents

1 History 2 National Trail 3 Places along the Ridgeway 4 References 5 Maps 6 External links

History[edit] For at least 5,000 years travellers have used the Ridgeway.[3] The Ridgeway provided a reliable trading route to the Dorset
Dorset
coast and to the Wash in Norfolk. The high dry ground made travel easy and provided a measure of protection by giving traders a commanding view, warning against potential attacks.

The Ridgeway
The Ridgeway
( Uffington Castle
Uffington Castle
ringfort in distance on left)

The Bronze Age
Bronze Age
saw the development of Uffington White Horse
Uffington White Horse
and the stone circle at Avebury. During the Iron Age, inhabitants took advantage of the high ground by building hillforts along the Ridgeway to help defend the trading route. Following the collapse of Roman authority in Western Europe, invading Saxon and Viking
Viking
armies used it. In medieval times and later, the Ridgeway found use by drovers, moving their livestock from the West Country
West Country
and Wales
Wales
to markets in the Home Counties and London. Before the Enclosure Acts of 1750, the Ridgeway existed as an informal series of tracks across the chalk downs, chosen by travellers based on path conditions. Once enclosures started, the current path developed through the building of earth banks and the planting of hedges. National Trail[edit] The idea for a long-distance path along the line of the Wessex Downs and Chilterns goes back to the Hobhouse Committee of 1947. The present route was designated by the Government in 1972, and opened as a National Trail in 1973.[4] One of fifteen long-distance National Trails in England and Wales, the Ridgeway travels for 87 miles (140 km) northeast from Overton Hill within the Avebury
Avebury
World Heritage Site to Ivinghoe Beacon
Ivinghoe Beacon
near Tring, where it meets the Icknield Way
Icknield Way
Path. The Ridgeway
The Ridgeway
meets the more recent (1997) Thames Path
Thames Path
National Trail at the Goring Gap, where the trails use opposite banks of the River Thames
River Thames
between Goring-on-Thames
Goring-on-Thames
and Mongewell; the Thames Path
Thames Path
follows the western bank and the Ridgeway the eastern. The total height climbed along the path is 3,881 feet (1,183 m).[1] The Ridgeway
The Ridgeway
is one of four long-distance footpaths that combine to run from Lyme Regis
Lyme Regis
to Hunstanton, collectively referred to as the Greater Ridgeway
Greater Ridgeway
or Greater Icknield Way. The Ridgeway
The Ridgeway
passes near many Neolithic, Iron Age
Iron Age
and Bronze Age
Bronze Age
sites including Avebury
Avebury
Stone Circle; Barbury Castle, Liddington Castle, Uffington Castle, Segsbury Castle, Pulpit Hill and Ivinghoe Beacon Hill, all Iron Age
Iron Age
and Bronze Age
Bronze Age
hill forts; Wayland's Smithy, a Neolithic chieftain burial tomb; the Uffington White Horse, an ancient 400-foot (120 m) chalk horse carved into the hillside near Uffington Castle; and Grim's Ditch, a 5-mile (8 km) section of earthwork near Mongewell
Mongewell
created by Iron Age
Iron Age
peoples as a possible demarcation line. Other points of interest include the Blowing Stone and Victory Drive, the private drive of Chequers
Chequers
(the British Prime Minister's country retreat). The Ridgeway's surface varies from chalk-rutted farm paths and green lanes (which have a propensity for becoming extremely muddy and pot-holed after rain) to small sections of metalled roads. Designated as a bridleway (shared with horses and bicycles) for much of its length, the Ridgeway also includes parts designated as byway which permits the use of motorised vehicles. Local restrictions along many byway sections limit the use of motorised vehicles to the summer months. Under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, many public rights of way in England and Wales
Wales
that authorities had not explicitly classified as Bridleway
Bridleway
or Byway defaulted to the classification "Restricted Byway" which precludes the use of motor vehicles at all times, except authorised vehicles and where required for access. As a result, much of the Ridgeway remains prohibited to motor vehicle use by the general public year-round.[5] However, the Ridgeway is the only means of access for many farms, especially in the more remote parts of the Downs. Despite the Ridgeway's artificial creation, the TV programme Seven Natural Wonders featured it in 2005 as one of the wonders of the South. Places along the Ridgeway[edit] Places that are near to (or on) The Ridgeway
The Ridgeway
National Trail include (from west to east):

The distinctive black Ridgeway signposts are made from 'Plaswood', an environmentally friendly and maintenance-free plastic material made from recycled waste.

Avebury Overton Hill Swindon Marlborough Liddington Castle Wanborough Wayland's Smithy Uffington Castle Lambourn Segsbury Camp Wantage West Lockinge East Lockinge West Ginge West Hendred East Hendred Harwell Chilton Compton Didcot Blewbury Streatley Goring-on-Thames Wallingford Thame Chinnor Reading Henley-on-Thames Princes Risborough Cadsden Aylesbury Wendover High Wycombe Tring Ivinghoe Beacon

A full-circle panoramic view at a point on the Ridgeway between Wantage
Wantage
and Uffington.

References[edit]

^ a b "Ridgeway (Oxfordshire)". Walk & Cycle. Retrieved 26 February 2017.  ^ Darvill, Timothy (2002). Oxford Archaeological Guides: England. pp. 297–298. ISBN 0-19-284101-7.  ^ "The History of the Ridgeway, an ancient pathway". www.historic-uk.com. Retrieved 2017-01-07.  ^ Curtis, Neil (1994). The Ridgeway
The Ridgeway
National Trail Guide. p. 18. ISBN 1-85410-268-0.  ^ "Ridgeway given 22-mile motor ban". BBC. 22 May 2006. Retrieved 5 November 2007. 

Maps[edit]

Annotated map of the Ridgeway Ridgeway National Trail. Published by Harvey Maps, UK.

External links[edit]

The Ridgeway
The Ridgeway
official site BBC
BBC
description of the Ridgeway The Ridgeway
The Ridgeway
on Google Maps The Ridgeway
The Ridgeway
map detailed in 2 mile sections

v t e

Long-distance footpaths in the United Kingdom

National Trails (England and Wales)

Cleveland Way Cotswold Way England Coast Path Glyndŵr's Way Hadrian's Wall Path North Downs Way Norfolk
Norfolk
Coast Path Offa's Dyke Path Peddars Way Pembrokeshire Coast Path Pennine Bridleway Pennine Way The Ridgeway South Downs Way South West Coast Path Thames Path Yorkshire Wolds Way Wales
Wales
Coast Path

Scotland's Great Trails

Great Glen Way Southern Upland Way Speyside Way West Highland Way

Long-distance path (Northern Ireland)

Ulster Way

v t e

Transport in Buckinghamshire

Road

Motorways

M1 M4 M25 M40

A-roads

A4 A40 A41 A404 A412 A413 A418 A421 A422 A428 A4010 A4012 A4146 A4155 A5 A508 A509 A5130

Roman roads

Akeman Street Watling Street

Notable junctions

Handy Cross roundabout Denham Roundabout Magic Roundabout (High Wycombe)

Motorway service stations

Beaconsfield Newport Pagnell

Rail

Main lines

West Coast Main Line Chiltern Main Line Great Western main line

Other lines

Marston Vale line London– Aylesbury
Aylesbury
line Metropolitan line Aylesbury– Princes Risborough
Princes Risborough
line Marlow branch line

Closed lines

Varsity Line Great Central Main Line Banbury to Verney Junction branch line Brill Tramway Wycombe Railway Watlington and Princes Risborough
Princes Risborough
Railway Cheddington to Aylesbury
Aylesbury
Line Aylesbury
Aylesbury
and Buckingham Railway Wolverton–Newport Pagnell line Bedford–Northampton line

Other

Chinnor
Chinnor
and Princes Risborough
Princes Risborough
Railway East West Rail Buckinghamshire Railway Centre Seer Green rail crash

Air

Denham Aerodrome Turweston Aerodrome Silverstone Heliport Wycombe Air Park

Waterways

Rivers

River Thames River Great Ouse

Canals

Bedford & Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes
Waterway (planned) Grand Union Canal

Slough Arm Wendover
Wendover
Arm Aylesbury
Aylesbury
Arm

Footpaths

National Trails

Thames Path The Ridgeway

Long-distance footpaths

Icknield Way
Icknield Way
(path) Chiltern Way Greater Ridgeway Midshires Way Ouse Valley Way Shakespeare's Way Swan's Way

Cycle paths

Route 4 Route 6 Route 51

Related articles

v t e

Transport in Milton Keynes

Road

Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes
grid road system A421 A422 A4146 A5 A509 A5130 H6 Childs Way H10 Bletcham Way V6 Grafton Street V8 Marlborough Street

Rail

Bletchley railway station Bletchley TMD Bow Brickhill railway station East West Rail Fenny Stratford railway station Marston Vale line Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes
Central railway station Varsity Line West Coast Main Line Woburn Sands railway station Wolverton railway station Wolverton–Newport Pagnell line

Bus

Buses in Milton Keynes Arriva Shires & Essex Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes
Coachway MK Metro Stagecoach in Northants United Counties Omnibus

Water

Bedford & Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes
Waterway (under construction) Cosgrove aqueduct Grand Union Canal

Other transport

Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes
redway system Watling Street Wolverton and Stony Stratford Tramway

Coordinates: 51°33.8′N 1°21′W / 51.5633°N 1.350°W

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