Marlborough Downs walking holiday, North Wessex

“Ancient burial sites and standing stones pepper the Marlborough Downs – discover them all on a short, self guided walking break.”


Self guided walking | two full day walking packs | Marlborough Downs | World Heritage Stone Circle at Avebury | Silbury Hill | West Kennet's Long Barrow | Fyfield Down Sarsen Stones | Pewsey Downs | Walkers’ Hill | Adam's Grave | Kennet and Avon Canal | Alton Barnes | full route notes | commentaries on features of interest | marked-up OS map | nature guide | choice of accommodation

Description of Marlborough Downs walking holiday, North Wessex

This Marlborough Downs walking holiday, North Wessex, is a weekend discovering the magical beauty of the Marlborough Downs in the heart of Wiltshire. In this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty you will walk along the curves of ridges and valleys among wave-like hills that sweep towards the horizon. The sheer beauty of this lesser known ancient green plateau is truly captivating.

Enjoy carefully crafted self-guided walks in the best parts of the Marlborough Downs, in Wiltshire, with the confidence from knowing that routes have been thoroughly researched by the founders of the company, and tested by numerous walkers. We include a marked-up Ordnance Survey map in your pack with a waterproof map case, and printed commentaries highlighting features of special interest to provide insight into the area’s history, culture and natural environment.

These walks are suitable for anyone of average fitness, able to walk 8 miles per day, on varied hilly terrain. Some ascents and descents are to be expected. It’s a self guided holiday, which means you’re completely free to walk at your own pace, linger as long as you like over lunch, and visit places of interest on the way, fully detailed in our meticulous notes. There’s a choice of delightful accommodation, too, either at the Bell Inn or Poulton Grange B&B, both offering comfortable ensuite accommodation.

Day-by-day itinerary

Day 1:Settle into your comfortable room at the Bell Inn or Poulton Grange, and read through your walking notes, before enjoying dinner in the Bell's excellent restaurant. NB You will need to drive to the Bell if you are staying at Poulton Grange.
Day 2:Today's walk combines, arguably, the most outstanding collection of prehistoric remains in the UK, and monuments of mystery and magic, with the solitude and immense beauty of the Marlborough Downs: 'never abrupt but flowing on and on to make a type of infinity'. The World Heritage Stone Circle at Avebury is the purists' favourite, constructed around 1700 BC. This henge is more random, more impressive, more romantic than Stonehenge, but unknown to many. Also there is Silbury Hill, the largest man-made mound in Europe, and West Kennet's Long Barrow, dated 3700 BC. Enter inside if you dare - not for the faint-hearted! From the legendary Ridgeway - Britain's oldest trackway - you'll reach Fyfield Down, to picnic among the famous Sarsen Stones, all 25,000 of them! In summer you'll be surrounded by a sea of wildflowers while the scrub and small copses support a wide range of birds. Returning to Avebury, there'll be time to visit the church, the museum, Manor House gardens or National Trust shop, and to have tea before the drive back to the Bell Inn. (Grade: moderate - 8 or 10 mile options)
Day 3:After a drive to the top of the beautiful Pewsey Downs, you'll step out on to the summit of Walkers' Hill to wide and dramatic views of the vale below. Walking above one of Wiltshire's famous white horses etched into the chalk hillside, you'll climb Adam's Grave, highest and most noble of all barrows before a stunning ridge walk with dramatic views of the vale below. You'll marvel at the beauty of these hills, the elemental landscapes of sky, pasture and breathtaking panoramas: 'divinely carved in rolling ridge and hollowed flank'. Following a pub lunch at All Canning's Kings Arms, the afternoon walk is completely different in character, strolling along the towpath of the Kennet and Avon Canal, a haven for wildlife: unspoilt, tranquil and green. You'll reach the ancient hamlet of Alton Barnes and its tiny Saxon church tucked away in a secret vale. The day ends with a drive back to Ramsbury with the option of tea at the Bell's Cafe Bella. (Grade: moderate - 8 miles)

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Marlborough Downs walking holiday, North Wessex


Walking is the least carbon intensive way to travel and ensures that the environmental impact of our walking parties is kept to a minimum. Where it is necessary to travel by means other than on foot, we encourage the use of public transport; if that is unavailable we use cars or local transport companies to reach the start of the walk. We aim to balance the environmental impact of travelling with the benefits that sustainable tourism brings to the local rural economy. We accommodate our walkers in a small local inn or B&B, all being family run and central to the life of the village. They employ local people and prepare meals from locally grown produce as far as possible.

In our small home office we recycle paper, cardboard, ink cartridges and printed material. We purchase recycled printer cartridges, paper, envelopes, labels, pens, toilet tissue, bin liners. We turn off printers, photocopiers, computers, battery chargers and transformers at the end of each day and avoid ‘screen savers’, use energy-efficient bulbs and low-energy appliances. We cut CO2 emissions by keeping thermostats at the lowest comfortable setting. We do not use tumble dryers nor take disposable plastic bottles to the countryside, instead promoting the use of water bottles manufactured by companies like Sigg.

We keep our customers informed electronically via email, electronic newsletters and our website. We encourage clients to remit their payments electronically via PayPal or by bank transfer.


We include on our walks visits to local projects, craftsmen and artisans wherever possible. For example, on our visits to Avebury we encourage our clients to visit Avebury's great barn where demonstrations illustrate rural life, keeping traditional crafts alive. Here, clients have the opportunity to purchase locally-produced crafts. We also recommend that clients visit the local museum to learn more about the unique history of the area, a supplement to the comprehensive commentaries we supply to illustrate our walks. On the first day we purchase picnic supplies from the village shop and on the second day we recommend lunch at a small country inn employing local staff.
We accommodate our clients in small privately-owned rural establishments rather than larger hotels in the area. We use Poulton Grange near Ramsbury as well as The Bell, both providing excellent levels of accommodation. Both establishments are family run and employ local staff. We patronise local transport companies to transport our clients from the nearest railway station when buses are unavailable. Our clients are directed to the village shop for personal purchases during their stay.


This carefully-researched and crafted walking holiday in a special landscape of the UK, promotes appreciation, respect and enjoyment of the countryside through informative commentaries. These commentaries relate to history, rural life and traditions, flora and fauna, geology and literature.

We walk in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and visit National Trust properties. We describe the views to be seen from the high points and our walkers always enjoy seeing the distant route they took earlier in the walk. We always explain something of the history of the area we are visiting and introduce into the walks topics of a literary nature such as poems, references to writers associated with an area and examples of the soothing power of nature.

We share knowledge about features of architectural interest and geological interest. For example, we may explain about the chalk downland turf or archeological features such as barrows and earthworks and explain how the land we see today has been shaped by the past. Or we may explain about a national trail, its history and its significance today. We include references to the economic importance of, for example, chalk, hardwood, coppices.

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