40 miles on foot in one day
Next Event - 7 May 2016
The Ridgeway 40 is one of many challenge walks of varying lengths
held throughout the UK. These walks are, as far as possible, cross
country, using public rights of way or across land which is open to
Walkers are expected to follow the route set by the organisers and
will usually receive a certificate if they complete it within the time specified in
the rules of the particular event.
Generally, long distance challenge walk organisers will provide the following:-
Several of the older long distance challenge walks have their
origins in the Youth Hostels Association (YHA). The Ridgeway Walk,
which was first held in 1962, was organised by the Reading and
District Local Group of the YHA and was a linear walk between
Marlborough and the Streatley hostels.
The Marlborough hostel closed in 1966 since which the Ridgeway Walk is based solely on Streatley hostel. The walk however remains a linear walk, with coaches taking the majority of entrants to the start at Overton Hill, the finish being at Goring Village Hall.
Amongst the original reasons for holding the walk was to create interest in the two hostels involved and their surrounding countryside. The walk continues to fulfill the original objectives in respect of Streatley hostel and the Ridgeway.
The Ridgeway west of Streatley is an ancient ‘road’. How ancient is a matter of debate: one school of thought says it is 300,000 years old which would probably make it the oldest road in Europe; another view is that has been used as a road for 6000 years.
The Ridgeway wends its way over the highest ground in the chalk downlands of Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. It passes by tumuli, which may be 3000 or more years old; forts (earthworks) such as Barbury Castle and Liddington dating from the Iron Age (500 B.C.) or even earlier; and, near the halfway point, the Neolithic tomb known as Wayland Smithy, named after a Saxon god but over 2000 years old when the Saxons first appeared in this land.
At the halfway point of the Ridgeway Walk is the Uffington Castle hill fort and the White Horse hill figure. The age of the White Horse is not known for certain but it could be 3000 years old. It is the oldest surviving horse figure as well as being the largest of all white horses. The White Horse cannot be seen from the Ridgeway itself but its design has been adapted as the symbol of the Ridgeway Walk.
Want to try the Ridgeway Walk? This web site an online entry and secure payment facility via the secure SiEntries Website, access to which is available via the "book online" button at the bottom of the Entry Form. You can also book accommodation at Streatley hostel (if required). Postal versions of the entry form and hostel booking letter are also available for entrants who do not have an email address. The web site also has details of the walk and background information. If you want to find out about other challenge walks you should look at the web site of the Long Distance Walkers Association (www.ldwa.org.uk).
A group of walkers on the first Ridgeway Walk on Saturday, 27th October 1962. They are resting at the Barbury Castle checkpoint before the last leg of the walk to Marlborough Hostel (photo by Graham Holt, who was a member of Reading YHA group in 1962).
Marlborough Youth Hostel in April 1963. This was the western end or start of the Ridgeway Walk. In those days entrants had the option of walking either east or west (photo by Graham Holt).