This leisurely circular walk  – including time for a packed lunch (bring your own) – explores the ancient tracks, flower-studded downlands and scenic panoramas around Barbury Castle and Burderop Downs.

Throughout the walk, the two guides will share their 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, photos and objects.

The walk starts with a gentle descent across Burderop Down looking at the landscape immortalised in the acclaimed nature writing of Richard Jefferies. We then walk a 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.

Much of the route is over natural, unsurfaced ground. There are two step-stiles along the route. The walking pace will be leisurely, with a 20 min stop for packed lunch and additional short stops for breathers or to take in the views.

Walk Leader/organisation: Ian from Richard Jefferies Museum and Sarah from The Ridgeway National Trail

Walk Information

  • Booking: Free – Booking essential – 20 places
  • Distance & approximate duration: 4.5 miles – up to 4 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate. Mix of field walking, some uneven ground, unsurfaced paths and bridleway
  • Accessibility: Not suitable for wheelchairs. Suitable for older children.
  • Dogs: Dogs on leads welcome. They must be kept on a lead at all times as there may be livestock in fields nearby. Where the route passes close to a shooting range, there may be sudden loud bangs. Larger dogs may need to be lifted over the step-stiles.
  • Nearby Refreshments: Bring a packed lunch and a drink as there are no places to purchase food or drink at Barbury Castle or along the walk. Picnic area with benches at the car park. Local places to eat and drink include Three Trees Farm Shop & Cafe, Chiseldon SN4 0HT approx. 5 miles from the meeting point.
  • Meeting point: Barbury Castle car park – meet near the picnic area. Postcode SN4 0QH. OS Grid reference SU 155 761. What3Words: flags.pops.hunt
  • Public Transport: Unfortunately, the start point is not covered by public transport. National Cycle Network Routes 45 is a signed cycle route linking the meeting point to Swindon town centre and train station (14km or 8.7 miles). There are bicycle racks to lock your bike at the meeting point.
  • Public car parks: Barbury Castle Country Park car park is free and has plenty of spaces.
  • Closest Toilets: Barbury car park has toilets

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

The Richard Jefferies Museum is at the edge of Coate Water Park, Swindon. SN3 6AA; approx six miles from Barbury. See website for opening times. Entry to the museum is free, enjoy a range of activities or a cream tea in the museum garden. It was Jefferies’ birthplace in 1848, and the first base from which his observations of rural life, the local countryside and nature influenced and formed the background for much of his writing. His work reflects his passion for the countryside and richness of nature that he saw all around him.

For more information, see

The Ridgeway National Trail is a signposted, off-road route stretching 87 miles from Avebury in Wiltshire to Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire. It is a place to enjoy scenic and historic countryside on foot, bicycle or horse. It is open 365 days a year and there is no charge to use it. 2023 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Ridgeway opening as a National Trail. Look out for special events along the Trail throughout next year.

For more information, see

This walk is brought to you by our partners:

Jefferies and Barbury Castle - credit Creative Commons