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The Ridgeway

This is one of the country’s national trails and is the oldest road in Britain. A large part of the ancient chalk ridge route was used by prehistoric man and passed through Oxfordshire on part of its 87 miles (139 km) length.

The Ridgeway is a quiet rural retreat for walking, cycling and horse rising. Parts can also be used from May to end September by 4 by 4s and motorcycles.

The trail passes through open downland to the west and wooded countryside in the area near the Chilterns. In the west it is a broad ancient track and on the top is an isolated chalk dowland ridge and can in parts be a long way from village life but is so peaceful.

Further along it changes as it passes above the meandering Thames Valley. Along part of the trail there are managed gallops for the use by local racehorse trainers, quite a sight on an early morning as they exercise those racing thoroughbreds.

From the Ridgeway from Wantage to Goring you can see below the cooling towers of Didcot Power Station with its beautiful outlines and plumes of steam rising. This area can be exposed in wet and cold weather because there are few hedges but the odd woodland such as Scutchamers Knob above East Hendred.

At Scutchamers Knob there is a bronze age round barrow, a burial chamber from bronze age times circa 2000 to 750 BC.

Along from Scutchamers Knob looking across the countryside you can see the Harwell site with Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and at Chilton the Diamond Project.

Then on to Bury Down where the trail goes under the A34 north-south trunk road and then it descends to the river Thames at Streatley and Goring on Thames.

As the trail goes from Streatley and Goring on Thames and on to South and North Stoke you are close to the river Thames until you reach Nuffield and then onto Swyncombe with its beautiful flint church of St. Botolph. You then descend to the upper Icknield Way and Watlington.

From Watlington the trail crosses the M40 and Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve and leaving the Icknield Way goes across country up and down valleys to Princes Risborough and onto Wendover.

Along the way you can drop down to discover the many picturesque villages of Letcombe Regis, Wantage, Ardington, West Hendred, East Hendred, Chilton, Upton, Blewbury, Moulsford, Goring-on-Thames, South Stoke, North Stoke, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Hailey, Nuffield, Ewelme, Britwell Salome, Watlington, Christmas Common, Lewknor, Postcombe, Aston Rowant, Kingston Blount, Crowell, Chinnor Henton in Oxfordshire.

Most of the villages have a public house for food and there is accommodation of all types along the route. There are hotels, guest houses, bed and breakfasts, hostels and caravan and camping sites.

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