The Ridgeway runs between Overton Hill near Avebury, in Wiltshire and Ivinghoe Beacon, near Tring in Hertfordshire, and is reputed to be Europe's oldest 'road', around 5000 years old. The entire route is designated as being in an area of outstanding natural beauty, and it did live up to that claim. We decided to walk it in 2005, choosing to walk towards home rather than away from it, so arranged to do the walk from east to west, rather less common than the other way around. This is our story.
Walking The Ridgeway: a personal story
Day 1: Ivinghoe to Wigginton - 8 miles
We got a lift to our first night's accommodation, Ranger's Cottage in Wigginton, where we dropped our luggage and then on to starting point, about a mile and a half from Ivinghoe Beacon. We proceeded to walk up to the Beacon for our official start, and then back down again and on to Wigginton, a total of around 8 miles. It was very windy up at the beacon but the views were spectacular. Ranger's Cottage is the perfect B&B. Pretty house in a very quiet setting and kind hosts. Our room was comfortable and well-equipped with an en-suite bathroom with bath and power shower and big fluffy towels. There was also a fridge with fresh milk and a welcome drink of wine and beer, and some snacks. Very welcome. That evening we walked down the road to the Greyhound pub where we had a superb dinner. A very good start to our walk.
Day 2: Wigginton to Askett - 11 miles
We had an excellent breakfast, including homemade fish cakes which were delicious. Breakfast was taken with other guests - including a man who was testing out the area in preparation for a 100 mile long distance walk - which he does in 24 hours. And we thought we were crazy! The weather was perfect and our walk was a very pretty one, through the village of Hastoe and into Pavis Wood, Wendover woods and into Wendover where we had lunch at Crumbs Café (no loo, though, had to use those in the car park). The woods were lovely beechwoods carpeted with bluebells much of the time. Why is it always uphill after lunch?
We crossed National Trust land at Coombe Hill, with the most spectacular views and lots of people out enjoying the weekend sun. We also walked past Chequers, the Prime Minister's country residence, but much of it was covered in scaffolding. Then past Pulpit Hill and on to the village of Cadsden with its lovely houses and gardens. There were some very steep descents and finally we arrived at our B&B, Solis Ortu, in Askett near Princes Risborough.
We were greeted with tea and cake and rested our weary feet whilst admiring the lovely garden. Our hosts were very kind and offered to drive us to a pub as those nearby weren't serving food on Sunday night. But we decided to eat at the Raj Mahal, an Indian restaurant just up the road, and very good it was too.