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Walking the Sarsen Way

A guide to walking the Sarsen Way and Cranborne Droves Way – part of the Great Chalk Way – through Wiltshire, described in both directions.

The Sarsen Way (Coate Water to Salisbury): 79km (49 miles)
The Sarsen Way heads south from Coate Water Country Park on the southern edge of Swindon to Barbury Castle’s Iron Age earthworks, then follows the Ridgeway for a time, and offers an optional loop to explore prehistoric sites around Avebury. After crossing the Vale of Pewsey, meeting up with the Kennet and Avon Canal for a time, the route heads to the edge of Salisbury Plain before following the River Avon valley to end at Salisbury Cathedral. There is an optional loop to explore the prehistoric sights around Durrington and Stonehenge.

Cranborne Droves Way (Salisbury to Win Green): 28km (17½ miles)
The shorter Cranborne Droves Way starts at Salisbury Cathedral, passes through medieval water meadows, and traverses Cranborne Chase along part of the Ox Drove, concluding at Win Green. An optional extension to Shaftesbury is also described.

The route is accessible to most walkers and is perfect for an energetic long weekend or a leisurely week, with good transport links at either end and plenty of accommodation options nearby.

Publisher: Cicerone Press Ltd

ISBN: 9781786311269 (first edition)

Publication Date: May 2024

The book is available from local bookshops, direct from the publisher, or from online sellers, including
Sarsen Way cover
Five thousand years ago, the rolling chalk landscape of Wiltshire was, for more than a millennium, a scene of frenzied building work. Tracing a route through these now-peaceful downs and linking the greatest of England’s prehistoric sites - Avebury and Stonehenge - the Sarsen Way takes you on a journey through this prehistoric landscape, passing Neolithic henges and stone circles, Bronze Age barrows and Iron Age hill forts. But that’s not all, there are also ancient churches and the majestic medieval cathedral at Salisbury to visit along the way, as well as far-reaching views, tranquil riverside scenes, picturesque villages and cosy pubs to enjoy. There is also an optional ending at Shaftesbury and the well-known Gold Hill.

Take your time and enjoy the journey. Rest a while, listen to the sounds of the countryside around you, admire the views and imagine why our ancestors built these magnificent treasures.

This guidebook provides all the information needed to follow both the Sarsen Way and Cranborne Droves Way. Whether you do one continuous walk, or prefer to spread the pleasure over several visits, you are sure to enjoy your journey along this exciting and historic route.
Coate Water, SwindonBurderop Down MemorialWest Kennet Long Barrow, Avebury LoopLurkeley Hill looking northSarsens strewn Fyfield Down NNRWansdyke, Vale of PewseySt Andrew's Church, Great DurnfordStonehengeOld SarumSalisbury CathedralHarnhamThroope HillOx Drove above Ebbesbourne WakeWin Green - end of the Cranborne Droves WayGold Hill, Shaftesbury
Introduction section - this briefly covers the history, geology and nature of the area as well as giving details on planning your walk, how to get to and from the route and where to stay

Stage 1 - Coate Water to Barbury Castle
Stage 2 - Barbury Castle to Overton Hill
Stage 3 - Overton Hill to Upavon
Stage 4 - Upavon to Netheravon
Stage 5 - Netheravon to Amesbury
Stage 6 - Amesbury to Salisbury
Stage 1 - Salisbury to Cow Down Hill
Stage 2 - Cow Down Hill to Win Green or Shaftesbury

Appendices: Route summary table, useful contacts & further reading
Sarsen Way map