Passing through the landscapes of the Wiltshire Downs, the Vale of Pewsey, Salisbury Plain and the Avon Valley, The Great Stones Way will be a great walk in itself. The combination of immense vistas and magnificent archaeology along the route will be irresistible – no other walking route has so much ancient heritage packed into such an attractive 30 miles.
The Great Stones Way is being developed by The Friends of The Ridgeway using existing footpaths and rights of way. Ian Ritchie, Chairman of The Friends of The Ridgeway says: “The Great Stones Way is a vital part of our ambition to open up the whole 360 miles of the Great Ridgeway from the south coast to East Anglia. The section between Avebury and Stonehenge is currently a big gap in that route, and The Great Stones Way will fill it brilliantly.”
The Great Stones Way will be launched on Saturday 26 March 2011 with a series of walks along the trail. Ian Ritchie explains: “Ambitious and experienced walkers will want to do the whole 30 miles in one day, and there will be an alternative 13 mile route from Casterley Camp on Salisbury Plain to Stonehenge. A gentle four miles from Durrington to Stonehenge will suit people who want to walk a shorter distance.”
In addition to the two great stone circles at the World Heritage Sites of Avebury and Stonehenge, The Great Stones Way passes Silbury Hill, West Kennet Long Barrow, The Sanctuary, the Wansdyke, Adam’s Grave, Marden Henge, Broadbury Banks, Durrington Walls and Woodhenge.
“Because The Great Stones Way could take some people up to three days to walk its entire length, we are creating a series of shorter circular trails of varying lengths and challenges to suit walkers of all abilities,” says Ian Ritchie. The whole experience will be enhanced by a dedicated local bus service, the Henge Hopper, which will enable walkers to minimise the use of their cars and to plan their own walks along The Great Stones Way.
The Friends of The Ridgeway commissioned a professional feasibility study which estimated that opening up The Great Stones Way will bring more than 250,000 visitors to the area and over £6million into the local rural economy each year. This will benefit accommodation providers in nearby towns and villages as well as several pubs and village shops along the trail.
Claire Perry, Devizes MP supports the new walking trail: “I believe that The Great Stones Way will be a vital link at the heart of the Ridgeway. It will take walkers over some of the most ancient and important paths in our great country and link two extraordinary World Heritage Sites. To be able to walk along a well signposted and well surfaced path will be a pleasure for both British and overseas walkers and will bring important benefits to our local economy.”
The Friends of The Ridgeway group has already held several public meetings with parish councils and communities along the route, and more are planned. The group is fund-raising to improve signage, install disability access gates, repair the path surface in places, and to produce The Great Stones Way guidebook.
Details of the inaugural walk will be published on The Great Stones Way website www.greatstonesway.org.uk (currently under construction). Anyone who would like to take part or contribute to fund-raising can visit the website for more information or contact The Friends of the Ridgeway via www.ridgewayfriends.org.uk
If you have not got the tme or the energy there are a few tour companies offering guided tours using cars or mini coaches. You could try the Stonehenge Tour Company based in London, the excellent Histouries UK private guided tours from Bath or London or Salisbury Guided Tours. We also have several discounted tours available on our website – click here
Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website