In August 2015 I walked the Ridgeway National Trail solo. It was quite a challenge for me organising and walking the trail independently and alone. I thought it might be useful to list the sources I found helpful when sorting out my accommodation:
Sources to Search
I started with the Ridgeway National Trail Website . This is an excellent, frequently updated site for all sorts of information on the trail. There is a Section “Plan your Visit” and under this a super tickbox facility where you can choose the type of accommodation you wish for. I wanted to complete the trail as cheaply as possible, so stuck to B and Bs and hostels. It is, of course, also important to look at how close the accommodation is to the actual trail route. I for one, did not want to add any more miles than necessary on to my day’s walking to reach my accommodation. And also, it seems a simple point, but one easily forgotten – accommodation two miles off route, means an extra two miles at the end of the day and an extra two miles to start the next morning.
So far as I could determine most available accommodation is shown on the site – but, of course, things continually change, so it is always worth searching.
As mentioned in other posts, I also found the site “Rambling Man – Planning a Ridgeway Walk”, particularly helpful and clearly set out.
I tied the length of my day’s walking in with availability of accommodation. The eastern end of the walk is particularly sparse in accommodation and the mileage I did each day was strongly determined by accommodation available. Again, I would definitely recommend pre-booking all accommodation.
Where Did I Stay?
I wanted to start my walk well-rested and refreshed and would thoroughly recommend The Old Forge in East Kennett. This was really a bit of a treat and somewhere that I would happily have stayed in with my husband for a romantic weekend. Accommodation was super and the breakfast very filling and of first class quality (nothing like a smoked-salmon bagel, before a long walk!). The hosts also provided me with an excellent packed lunch. Opposite the building is a small garden and bench close to the river and it was lovely the night before my walk to sit there and meditate on the days ahead. It is also possible to get accommodation in Avebury itself. It would only then be a short walk from there to Overton Hill at the start of the trail.
Ogbourne St George is really the best bet for the first night’s stay. (I would also advise, if you have time to continue on the Ridgeway trail to the far end of the village and walk back in so you don’t have to do it the next day – but beware the steep hill!) . I stayed at The Inn with the Well; nearby are also Parklands Hotel and the Sanctuary. I always check Trip Adviser reviews before booking. The Inn on the Well was super – I was welcomed with a bottle of ice cold water – just what I needed. They also have ground floor rooms where dogs are welcomed. Again an excellent packed lunch was provided.
This depends on where you split your walk. I did a long day this day and made it as far as The Court Hill Centre, Wantage (see separate blog post here). Some may prefer to stop this day at Sparsholt, at either Down Barn Farm right on the route or the Hill Barn Farm B and B or slightly off route at The Star Inn ,
I continued on to Goring and Streatley and stayed in the Youth Hostel here. Again, no complaints. I had the dormitory to myself and a super breakfast and packed lunch. Very friendly manager and staff. Plenty of places to eat in the locality. There are other much more expensive places to stay in the area if you want a bit of luxury, but I really found the hostel provided all I needed. Again, the National Trail website list is thorough. Please be aware that although it sounds like a town Goring and Streatley (straddling the Thames) does not have any major shops within walking distance. There is a small “Mace” which was not very well stocked – so do not rely on stocking up on provisions here.
I walked as far as Watlington. The Fat Fox Inn has good reports. The National Trail website also shows a B and B at Woodgate Farm Cottage. Any coments welcome of any other alternative accommodation. I was lucky because by this stage I was within travelling distance of home and my husband drove to Watlington to pick me up and take me home and then drove me back the next morning. This was purely to save money. In retrospect, I would not have done this and would have stayed away the extra night – the trip home did slightly spoil the ambience of being away in the countryside walking alone.
This next day I walked as far as Wendover (about 17 miles) and again my ever helpful husband picked me up and I went home for the night. However, Wendover looked like a nice place to say (and in retrospect, again it would have kept the solitary nature of the walk going). There are a couple of B and Bs mentioned on the website and also accommodation at the Red Lion Hotel (close to the trail).
End of the Trail
At the end of the trail because of its proximity to my home I differed from what many would do. On the 6th day I walked from Wendover to the foot of Ivinghoe Beacon and returned home exhausted for the night. This was because it was a lovely summers day with lots of people about and in view of what an amazing experience this had been for me I particularly wanted to finish the trail alone when I could connect as closely as possible to “nature”. So I got up at four the next morning, drove to the foot of the Beacon and climbed it as the sun came up. A truly magical experience. There are many places to stay in the Tring and Dunstable area. The Greyhound Inn in Wiggington, would leave a comfy six mile walk to complete the trail. Folly Farm in Albury also offers bed and breakfast. To the East of the end of the Trail Dunstable has a selection of B and Bs and chain hotels.
In conclusion everywhere I stayed was different and super in its own way. I was positively encouraged by the friendliness of all the hosts and the accommodation all lived up to what was advertised. Living out of a rucksack for several days was not a problem and I quickly adapted. I did, however, make full use of the packed lunch services provided by most accommodation providers.
I am aware that my stopover points may be different to some peoples and I was fortunate in travelling home at several points. I would welcome any comments which may be of use to others undertaking a Ridgeway Walk – please feel free to leave them below.
Further posts on my walk along the Ridgeway National Trail are shown below:
The Ridgeway – Day Four: Goring and Streatley to Watlington
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