This leisurely circular walk explores the ancient tracks, flower-studded downlands and scenic panoramas around Barbury Castle and Burderop Downs.

Throughout the walk, the guide – and walkers – will share their experiences and knowledge of the area through the ages, weaving together flora, fauna, history and culture. Connections to people and places of the past will be made through the words of writers, along with photos and objects.

The walk starts with a gentle descent across Burderop Down, looking out at the surrounding landscape immortalised in the acclaimed nature writing of Richard Jefferies. We then explore a short section of the ancient Ridgeway where people have walked and wondered for millennia, producing a routeway rich with myths, legends and folklore. The walk concludes with a gradual ascent to the Iron Age hillfort of Barbury Castle to soak up the views and the history.

The guided walk ends at the western entrance to the hillfort; walkers are then free to explore the rest of the site at their own pace if they wish.

Much of the route is over natural, unsurfaced ground and grazed rough grassland. There are two easy step-stiles along the route. The walking pace will be leisurely, with a 20-minute stop for a packed lunch (bring your own) and additional short stops for breathers or to take in the views.

Walk leader/organisation: Ian from the Richard Jefferies Museum

This walk is now full but click ‘book now’ to join the waiting list.

Walk information

  • Booking: Free – Booking essential – 20 places
  • Distance & approximate duration: 4.5 miles (7.2 km) – 4.5 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate (more challenging, for keen/active walkers).
  • Accessibility: Suitable for older children (12+). Under 18s must be accompanied by an adult (see useful information). Not suitable for wheelchairs or prams/pushchairs. Steps/stiles on the route.
  • Dogs: No dogs.
  • Refreshments: Please bring a packed lunch and drinks. There will be a short break for lunch. There are no places to purchase refreshments on the route (see below). There is a picnic area at the car park. 
  • Toilets: There are no toilets on the route (see below).
  • Meeting point: Picnic area, Barbury Castle Country Park car park, Swindon, SN4 0QH. What3Words: flags.pops.hunt. OS grid reference: SU 155 761. Google Maps.
  • Public transport: None available.
  • Parking: Free public parking at Barbury Castle Country Park car park, SN4 0QH.

For general booking information, health and safety advice, terms and conditions please see our useful information page.

Further information

OS maps: Explorer 157 Marlborough & Savernake; Landranger 173 Swindon & Devizes

There are toilets and refreshments at Three Trees Farm Shop & Café, Chiseldon, SN4 0HT, approx. 5 miles from the meeting point. See Three Trees Farm.

The Richard Jefferies Museum is a small, community-run museum and gardens at the edge of Coate Water Park, Swindon, SN3 6AA, approx. 6 miles from Barbury Castle. Entry to the museum is free, see social media and website for opening times. Enjoy a range of activities or live music and a cream tea in the museum garden. The 18th-century farmhouse was Jefferies’ birthplace in 1848, and the first base from which his close observations of rural life, the local countryside and nature influenced and formed the background for much of his writing. See the Richard Jefferies Museum or find us on Facebook.

This walk is brought to you by our partners:

Jefferies and Barbury Castle © Creative Commons