Wiltshire is home to ancient hill forts and mysterious stones, peaceful canal networks and quintessential villages. It is a county that boasts some of England’s best walking routes, many of which escape the well-trodden tourist trail. Read on for some of Wiltshire’s best short walks…
Maud Heath’s Causeway
The details: Start at the Langley Tap Pub in Langley Burrell. Park on the road without blocking entrances.(GR ST 933752/ Postcode SN15 4LQ). OS Explorer Map 156 Chippenham and Bradford on Avon. An easy walk on minor roads, across fields and rough footpaths. How long: 2 miles The walk: Named after a medieval egg seller, this Victorian arched path weaves through the Avon floodplain, which used to inhibit access to the route during rainy periods. But Maud Heath, who walked the path daily, built a causeway to keep the feet of traders and travellers dry – parts of which can still be seen along the route today. 1. Begin at the Langley Tap Pub and turn right walking right down the road where you will see parts of the old path. At the junction turn right past a red brick house. Walk under the railway tunnel and along the 64 arch causeway. Look out for the memorial stone to Maud Heath on the left. 2. At the small chapel on the right cross the stile into the field and walk along the footpath. At the opening cross to the next field and follow the track around the field along the River Avon. 3. Go over the footbridge ahead and take the track to the right along the river. On the right is a gate leading to a lane. Walk up the lane to the bridleway junction. Turn right and walk up the track taking the railway bridge to the left. Continue up the footpath back to Langley Burrell.
Maud Heath (D. Day)
The details: Start in Salisbury Street Car Park (GR ST 814323 /Postcode BA12 6HB). OS Explorer Map Warminster and Trowbridge. A moderate walk with some steep sections. Uses footpaths, fields, and rough tracks. How long: 5 miles The walk: Steep hillsides and medieval strip lynchets (earthworks) used in farming give this walk a unique landscape. It starts in the town centre and slices across Mere Down, before returning to Mere via its namesake castle. 1. Begin in Salisbury Street car park and turn right walking past the fire station on the left. Just past the bridge there is a footpath on the left. Go through the gate, take the path to the right for a short distance and then the stile on the right. 2. Walk to the left uphill to a further stile. You’ll see beautiful views of Mere from here. Continue ahead and follow the path as it skirts the peak of the hill with views of the lychets. This path flows the contour of the hill through stiles to an old drovers road. 3. Turn left and walk past one footpath to a second and cross the stile. This path leads towards a reservoir and continues round the edge of the field to a footpath on the right. Take this downhill curving to the right towards a farm. 4. Go through the gate and turn left towards the town crossing the bridge over the A303. On the right is the path to Mere Castle. Take this and explore the old fortress before heading back into Mere.
Mere (D. Day)
Bradford On Avon
The details: Starts in Bradford On Avon Station car park. (GR ST 825607 /Postcode BA15 1DQ). OS Explorer Map 156 Chippenham and Bradford on Avon. It uses pavement, canal towpath and footpath. Mostly level but there are a couple of steep parts on the walk. How long: 4 miles The walk: Bradford on Avon is a beautiful town with a lot of architectural treasures. The 13th century packhorse bridge is a man-made wonder and this trail tracks the Kennet and Avon canal before circling back towards the town. 1. Begin in the Bradford on Avon Station car park and turn right to walk down Frome Road. At the sign marked Tithe Barn turn right to visit the 14th century building before returning to continue the walk. 2. Continue along Frome Road to the bridge where there is a footpath marker to the left. Take the canal towpath ahead. You’ll see holiday boats, working barges, waterside homes, and links to the town’s industrial past. Walk past two bridges until you arrive at a footpath sign on the left. 3. Follow this path down a track towards the River Avon and continue along the path to the left which leads into a field. Keep on the track until you reach a farm gate. 4. Walk through the gate and continue on the path through one field. Continue walking through a second field towards a housing estate. 5. Take the narrow passageway out of the field which leads to a road. Follow the road to the left to a sign marked Mythern Meadow. Ahead is a house in the right hand corner. To the right of the house is a footpath leading to some garages. 6. Walk to the left of the garages past some houses. Opposite number 15 is a track leading down to a wooded trail. Follow this trail through the wooded area behind the houses. Just past the scout hut you’ll see some wonderful views of the town. A little further on is St Margarets Steps to the right. These lead back down into Bradford On Avon.
The details: Start at the Old Sarum Car Park (GR SU 139327 /Postcode SP1 3SD). OS Explorer Map 130 Salisbury and Stonehenge. A simple and short walk. How long: 2 miles The walk: This easy walk takes in part of the ruins at Old Sarum, which looks out towards the medieval city of Salisbury.
1. Walk from the carpark downhill to the cross-hatching and take the footpath to the right. Continue along this path with lovely views of Salisbury Cathedral. You can also see the Old Sarum ramparts on the right as you walk this path. 2. At the junction in the path take the left hand trail towards a farm. Just before the road turn right to a footpath. Walk across the field, cross the stile and go across the next field to the stile in the corner. Cross this to the road. 3. Ahead is the River Avon. Walk to the right and go up the road past Dean’s Farm. Continue up this road with beautiful views. 4. As you start to see the edge of the castle ahead, take the footpath to the right. Continue following this path around the rampart of the castle, climbing gently upwards with views of the countryside. 5. This path continues to the main car park. Do take time to see the commemoration marker indicating the point where Thomas Mudge looked out from here in 1794 and commenced working on ordnance survey maps.
The details: Start in the car park next to the football ground on Lacock Road. (GR ST 880702/ Postcode SN13 9HS). OS Explorer Map 156 Chippenham and Bradford on Avon. An easy walk on mostly level ground. How long: 4 miles The walk: This walk cuts through resplendent Corsham Park – made famous on BBC One hit series Poldark – which forms the heart of Corsham's heritage.
Corsham (D. Day)
1. Go out of the car park and cross the road to an entrance in the wall of Corsham Park. Walk down the path towards the lake. At the lake turn right and continue along this path past horse chestnut trees. 2. At the end of the path go through the gate and take a marked very narrow footpath to the right. Cross the stile and continue through a field to another stile which emerges onto a road. 3. Turn left and walk up the road past some cottages. Just after a small stream is a turning to the right. Walk along this trail to the fields and go over the stile. In the far left corner is a stile. Climb over this and go to the top right corner of the field where there is a stile. Cross this to the road. 4. Walk up this road to the junction. Turn left and continue up the hill until you come to a busy road junction. In the corner of the wall on the left is Corsham Park. 5. Go into the park and head towards the line of oak trees. Continue walking along a woodland trail keeping to the right and along a long path. You will see the Church of St Bartholomew and Corsham Court. The lake is ahead of you where you can finish the walk. Alternatively walk into the town and explore the historic streets or relive a Poldark scene in the park.
Advice provided by Rachael Rowe, author of Walks for All Ages Wiltshire. All guides reproduced with kind permission from Bradwell Books. Main Image: Public footpath sign (Shutterstock)