The final post of Ridgeway 2018 is this one, and I’d like to thank everyone for a marvellous time. It was a harder walk than most of us expected, even though we’ve walked further, and even though it wasn’t a rushed week.
So, I feel that a final FAQ is now in order as this is the post that people will read first if they stumble across this blog over future years.
For all the posts on the Ridgeway, go to http://www.julianwhite.co.uk/category/ridgeway/ and keep scrolling down 🙂
Q. Who took part in this walk?
A. Seven members of Hike Norfolk, Susanna, Bev, Dave, Steve, Steve M, Maggie and last, but definitely not least, Julian (me).
Q. How far was it?
A. The official route is 87 miles, but we think we walked 108 miles including getting to hotels and some walking around the local area in the evening (at the beginning of the week this included a lovely walk around Marlborough, towards the end of the week, it was a stumble back to the hotel room).
Q. Is it a walk worth doing?
A. Yes. The route covers a swathe of English countryside and with few exceptions, such as motorways, it feels that it remote and rural. The path crosses a few towns, but never did it feel like an urban walk.
Q. Will Hike Norfolk be completing the walk again?
A. We try to do a new long distance path every year. It’s unlikely we’d do it again in the near future.
Q. Who led the walk?
A. I did.
Q. How would you rate the leader?
A. Beyond exceptional.
Q. What the best bit of the walk?
A. Seeing the standing stones. Actually, there weren’t any, but it amused the group.
Q. And the worst bit?
A. There were no bad bits, but when feet are tired, the climb out of towns is a struggle.
Q. Which way should the walk be done?
A. Either works out, but I liked the finish at Ivinghoe Beacon, it felt like a real climax to a week of walking. Finishing at the other end, in the west, is a little bit more of an anti-climax.
Q. How many days should the walk be done over?
A. I know people who have done it in four, five and six. Six is the most comfortable option and is the one I’d recommend.
Q. What’s the signage like?
A. Well, we discovered that it was possible to go wrong, and we did on a couple of occasions. But this was mostly our fault, the signage along the route is clear and in good shape. Some idiots have tried to remove the kilometres distance off the signage over recent years, but much of this damage has been repaired.
Q. Is there water along the route?
A. Particularly in the western half there are numerous water sources. It’s a bit less frequent in the eastern half of the walk, so anyone attempting a wild camping option might want to take extra supplies in that section.
Q. Are there are enough hotels and restaurants along the route?
A. Yes, and prices are generally reasonable, but early booking is best. I might, if I ever get time, try and produce a better guide to that.
Q. What was your group like?
Q. Can I join?
A. Yes. We list our walks at http://www.meetup.com/Norfolk-Area-Ramblers/ and we have lots of trips away. They’re usually booked up early, but for anyone interested, join us and follow what happens 🙂
Q. What’s the public transport like on the Ridgeway?
A. Generally, it’s not great. It’s easy enough to get from Swindon to Avebury by bus, and then walk to the start point. The other end does have a limited bus service, but it’s probably easier to walk back to Tring station (about 2.5 miles) where the train services are frequent. Along the way it’s likely to be a taxi that gets walkers from the route to their accommodation, assuming they’re not staying on the route.
Q. Can the path by cycled?
A. Cycling looks so tiring… But it can, although the routes vary in places to the walking tracks.
Q. Are there are Greggs on route?
A. Unfortunately, very few. There are two in Swindon and one in Marlborough, but this isn’t a route designed for eating Greggs on. I hope that in future years the situation improves, to ensure that walkers can be properly fuelled by high quality Greggs food.
Q. Are there snakes?
A. Probably. But we didn’t see any. We saw lots of kites and other birds along the route, and I liked to think that they were eating all the snakes. I’m not sure that kites eat snakes, but it’s a nice thought.
Q. Are there dangerous animals along the route?
A. I feel threatened by numerous cows, sheep and horses, but they didn’t injure us. They also seem used to walkers.
Q. What food should I take on the Ridgeway?
A. Crisps. They can be purchased at most shops along the route.
Q. Any final reason why someone should walk the Ridgeway?
A. It’s one of the oldest routes in Europe and people have walked along this ridge paths for thousands of years. Much of it is on chalk ridges and these didn’t get flooded or wet, hence why they were used to walk on. It also gave traders, walkers and soldiers the protection of a little height to see any dangers which might be lurking around. So, the history of this walk is rarely far away, and it adds to the whole experience to imagine people walking these very same paths such a long time ago.
Q. Should I buy a guide book?
A. In terms of the route, it’s not really necessary to have a guidebook to help find the way, as it’s well signed throughout. Combined with a .gpx file, it should be nearly impossible to go wrong, although we did make a few little errors over the course of the week.
Before I went on the trip, I used the official National Trails book, well, looked at in the library, and there are some useful things to see along the route. This is the main advantage of the book, it’s a little out of date for matters such as accommodation (which is really done best on-line now).