The North Wessex Downs Walking Festival 2024
31 May – 9 June

Welcome to our fourth annual Walking Festival!

STOP PRESS! (10 April 2024) Our events are booking up fast and some are now full. However, there are still plenty of events with spaces available for you to choose from.  

With 29 events on offer across the North Wessex Downs our festival is a celebration of the stunning landscapes, glorious scenery and top-class walking country that this National Landscape has to offer.

We have opportunities for you to seek out wildlife, history or culture, picnic with the family or simply soak up the views from the top of the downs.  And this year there are even more farm walks on offer where you can hear directly from the farmers or land managers about their work.

Most of our walks are free.  But all events must be booked in advance.
(If an event is booked up you can join a waiting list.)

Join our knowledgeable and welcoming guides and explore more as they lead you to some of their favourite places in the North Wessex Downs.

We would like to take this opportunity to express how grateful we are to all our partners who organise and lead walks, without whom this festival simply would not be possible.

All walks are listed below. Either scroll through the list or view all events on the map.  You can search for events by length, by date, accessibility or whether they are on a bus or train route.  A copy of our printed programme leaflet can be downloaded here.

We look forward to seeing you!

Filter Walks:

Cocklebury Farm family walk

Friday 31st May 2024  |  1.5 miles  |  11.00am  |  Free

Bring your little ones to this family focused, educational farm walk in a beautiful location west of Pewsey. About 1.5 miles in total, taking around 2 hours at an ambling pace. Plenty of stops along the way to explain how the farm works and how wildlife is encouraged and protected.

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Pewsey and its surrounding hamlets

Saturday 1st Jun 2024  |  3.5 miles  |  10.30am  |  Free

This lovely walk full of historic and natural interest, never strays far from the centre of the village of Pewsey. Walking at a gentle pace, we skirt the edges of the village to explore the hamlets that lie in the valley.

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The natural history of Ranscombe Bottom and the River Marden

Saturday 1st Jun 2024  |  3.75 miles  |  11.00am  |  Free

A leisurely walk from the village of Calstone Wellington along the valley of the River Marden to its source in Ranscombe Bottom, taking in Cherhill Downs (famous for its white horse) and Calstone Combes. The combes are brimming with wildflowers, butterflies, moths and farmland birds.

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‘The Big Drop’ farm walk

Saturday 1st Jun 2024  |  2.6 miles  |  2.00pm  |  Free

To mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings, this circular walk on a farm just outside Boxford uncovers the role it played in March 1944 for ‘The Big Drop’ rehearsal. We discover what happened that day and the significance of the landings, as well as exploring the farmland and farming practices today.

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Barbury Castle and Burderop circular: a ramble through history and literature

Sunday 2nd Jun 2024  |  4.5 miles  |  11.00am  |  Free

A leisurely walk exploring the ancient tracks, flower-studded downlands and scenic panoramas around Barbury Castle and Burderop Downs. This walk explores the landscape immortalised in the acclaimed nature writing of Richard Jefferies, and makes connections to people and places of the past through art and objects.

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Farm walk: Stanford Dingley and Rushall Manor

Sunday 2nd Jun 2024  |  3.75 miles  |  1.00pm  |  £5.50 per adult, children free (under 16). To go to The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution – RABI and/or The John Simonds Trust – see below.

Spend the afternoon with local farmers Jeremy and Steve on their farms in the beautiful Pang Valley. Learn all about farming – crops, animals, machinery – as well as how the farmers are looking after the wildlife in the area. A gentle walk with lots of interest – and even stop for a cake break!

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Geology and landscape around Ashdown House

Sunday 2nd Jun 2024  |  3.2 miles  |  2.00pm  |  Free

This walk explores the Lambourn Valley where Ashdown House is set. We will take in some of the interesting features of the area’s geological history over the last 100 million years, including a chalk valley and sarsen stones.

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Ridgeway ramblings

Monday 3rd Jun 2024  |  8 miles  |  9.45am  |  £12 per person

Join us for some ‘Ridgeway Ramblings’ and immerse yourself in the rolling downland of the Oxfordshire-Berkshire border. On this undulating 8-mile walk, we discover ancient trackways flowing like green rivers through the landscape, stunning panoramic views, wildflowers, butterflies and a beautiful stained-glass window designed by John Piper.
Sorry! We made a mistake on our printed leaflet. Please note that this walk is NOT suitable for children and please note the correct ticket price

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Treacle Bolly and the margins of the River Kennet

Monday 3rd Jun 2024  |  1.75 miles  |  10.00am  |  Adult £7.50; Child £4.00

Discover some of the history and stories of Marlborough on this gentle walk along the margins of the River Kennet and through ‘Treacle Bolly’. Explore churches, learn about former water meadows, historic Marlborough College and its Mound; all brought alive by Wiltshire History Man aka Nick Baxter.

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Nature and landscape recovery at Ewhurst Park

Monday 3rd Jun 2024  |  3.75 miles  |  2.00pm  |  Free

This circular walk will showcase the various biodiversity projects being put into action on the Estate, as well as taking in wonderful landscape and views. Discover how the projects aim to encourage nature’s recovery through habitat creation and the reintroduction of native species.

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Image credits (in order of walk date): Cocklebury Farm; Susie Brew/Pewsey Vale Tourism Partnership; Rebecca Davies; RAF Welford Museum; Creative Commons; Action for River Kennet; Jacky Akam; Jacky Akam; Jacky Akam; Mark Clinch; Charmaine Hoey; Dan Bashford/Historic England; Jemima Sellwood; Judy Hible; Katherine Cook; Claire Selman; Dave Olinski; Sarah Ahmed; Heather Lilley/Forestry England; Jacky Akam; Jackie Browne; Henry Oliver; Henry Oliver; Youth Adventure Trust; Judy Haynes; Richard Gearey; Ann Shepley; Ann Shepley; Philippa Sanders.