Enjoy the local landscape this Christmas – discover new walks around the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Christmas is a great time for bright, crisp winter walks with plenty of fresh air to work up a good appetite and if you can get all the family and visitors to get involved its even better! If you’d like to find new routes for your walks then take a look at the interactive map on the North Wessex Downs website. Simply tick whether you are looking for walks or cycle rides etc. the distance and where you want to go. You’ll find a good map with directions and local information all ready to download and print.
For some hush during the Christmas rush…
Whether you want to find peace on the remote chalk downs or walk off your Christmas lunch, The North Wessex Downs offers beautiful walks and big skies across the 700 square miles of downland. The area is also famous for bridle ways (narrow country lanes) which make for fantastic cycling and, of course, wonderful horse riding with spectacular views. At this time of year, you may be lucky to catch a gathering of birds ready to fly south, spot birds of prey like kites and buzzard who are out hunting for their dinner, or animal tracks in the snow if we are lucky this year! Those distinctive heart shaped prints are deer tracks, and you’re also likely to see rabbit or fox.
One of the most spectacular sights is a heavy frost, when a silver sheet covers the grass along chalk escarpments. Head for the White Horses of Alton Barnes, Broad Hinton and Uffington on a sunny morning for the best views or check out the red holly berries and white mistletoe in the North Wessex Downs woodlands like Savernake and West Woods.
Mystery of Winter Solstice
The North Wessex Downs is home to some of the most famous prehistoric monuments in the world and is the perfect place to spend Winter Solstice, as we believe our neolithic ancestors would have done. Tony Robinson’s recent Walking Through History from Avebury to Stonehenge reveals many of the mysteries of the ancient stones and burial grounds in our landscape.
Where to stay?
There is a wide range of hotels and friendly B&Bs to choose from – whether you want to be pampered or situated in prime walking country. The North Wessex Downs also offers fine, traditional English cuisine and microbreweries. For a comprehensive guide to local food and places to stay in the North Wessex Downs, see here
By Car: Junctions 12 – 15 of the M4 bring you right into the North Wessex Downs.
By Train: the area is well serviced by trains out of London: Great Western main line (Paddington to Bristol/Swansea, Oxford, Birmingham and Hereford), Berks and Hants (GW) main line (Paddington to Penzance) and LSW main line (Waterloo to Salisbury/Exeter).
The main stations in the North Wessex Downs are: Hungerford (W Berks), Great Bedwyn (Wilts), Pewsey (Wilts), Whitchurch (Hants), Overton (Wilts), Goring & Streatley (Berks/Oxon). Nearby are: Swindon, Newbury and Didcot.