The wonder of Wessex: walking the Ridgeway in Wiltshire and Oxfordshire

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It is 50 years since this prehistoric thoroughfare in southern England became a national trail. We take a two-day walk with highlights including Uffington White Horse

I’m settled in the shade of a hawthorn bush at the edge of the trail. Banked cow parsley waves in the breeze, elderflowers are breaking bud and the white chalk line of the footpath draws the eye on through the landscape. As I sit, a hare hops out of the hedge just metres away and pauses on the path. For a long moment it is still and calm, eyes shining golden. I hold my breath. Then it notices me and bursts into action, launching off the track and through the undergrowth to the field beyond, quicker than my eyes can follow. I exhale. Walks are made for moments like these.

I’m walking a stretch of the Ridgeway national trail across the high chalklands of the North Wessex Downs, an area of outstanding natural beauty. Sometimes known as Britain’s oldest road, the whole route is 87 miles between Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire and Avebury in Wiltshire.

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