If you fancy combining a long hike with the chance to reconnect with your inner zen, the Sarsen Trail could be for you.
The 26 mile walk links the town of Avebury and the prehistoric monument of Stonehenge in Wiltshire, not far from BCH Camping stores
. Stonehenge and Avebury were inscribed together on the UNESCO World Heritage Site List in 1986 due to their outstanding prehistoric monuments that date back 5000 years to the Neolithic and Bronze Age.
The Sarsen Trail name is derived from the large sarsen stones that are found in circles at both world heritage sites. The trail is also known as the Neolithic Marathon, an annual race organised by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust that was hugely popular with marathon runners until its last event in 2019. The race was cancelled from then on due to rising costs and logistical challenges.
Described as a tough, undulating walk, the Sarsen Trail is a multi-terrain path that can be completed in one day or over two or three days. The total ascent is 1480 feet. The route takes you through the Vale of Pewsey and part of Salisbury Plain, offering stunning views across the Avon Valley.
Rather than complete the entire trail, some walkers head to the midway point at Redhorn Hill and back again, so that they can return to the starting point to their cars or accommodation.
What makes the Sarsen Trail so special?
As well as the stunning views and the challenge of a difficult route, the Sarsen Trail offers the cultural gifts of two world heritage sites. The chance of passing new age travellers and knowing the extent of the history you’re exposed to, offers a sense of spirituality that isn’t found on most walks.
Avebury World Heritage Site
Avebury Henge is thought to date back to around 2500 BC. The large stone circle is surrounded by a deep ditch and a bank. You can walk among the stones to take in the atmosphere of the prehistoric site and enjoy the village of Avebury, much of which is contained within the stone circle.
The Henge at Avebury is just one of many ancient monuments within approximately 25 square kilometres. Nearby you will find the largest prehistoric mound in Europe at Silbury Hill which was built around the same period as the Henge.
There are many archaeological remains in the surrounding landscape, and the whole area is located within the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Many of the major monuments are open to visit for free, and there are two museums to visit, run by the National Trust.
The Sarsen Trail route highlights
The start of the Sarsen Trail is found in Avebury near the Red Lion pub. There is a National Trust car park nearby. The trail makes its way out of Avebury along the Wessex Ridgeway Path which you join at Overton Hill.
After crossing the A4 you continue towards East Kennett and head up onto Cow Down from where you can get a good view of Silbury Hill. From here you take the steady ascent up Walkers Hill to Adam’s Grave, a Neolithic long barrow and the site of battles in 592 and 715. The landscape vistas that stretch from this spot are incredible.
As you head down towards Alton Barnes you are treated to a great view of the Alton Barnes White Horse chalk figure, which was cut into the landscape in 1812. It is one of eight remaining Wiltshire White Horses, and measures approximately 180 ft high and 160 ft long.
From here the route takes you through the villages of Woodborough and Bottlesford eventually reaching the White Horse Trail. You soon find yourself at the top edge of Salisbury Plain with the path running close to the MOD training ground so attention to the route is advisable!
Soon enough you will be on the Great Stones Way that will take you over the River Avon. Further down the route you will come across the Stonehenge Brewery at the Old Mill. The mill was originally built in 1914 to provide power to the nearby airfield. It was converted into a brewery and started to produce beer in 1984, becoming known as Stonehenge Brewery in 1993.
After passing various villages and walking across many fields you will reach Durrington where there is a war memorial. Soon after that you are on Stonehenge Road which leads uphill to the Stonehenge Pub. After a short walk along the A345 you will reach Woodhenge, a much lesser known Neolithic site than its neighbour. Woodhenge, as the name suggests, is a wood circle built in around 2300BC. It is thought to have supported a raised structure.
You will soon briefly join the route of the disused Larkhill branch line of the Amesbury Military Light Railway which was constructed during World War I to connect the military base at Larkhill with main line services.
After a short while walking the route of the railway you will reach some access land that takes you across to Stonehenge.
Stonehenge World Heritage Site
Stonehenge consists of a ring of standing stones, each measuring around 13 ft high and 7 ft wide and weighing around 25 tons. It is believed to have been constructed between 3000 BC and 2000 BC.
The World Heritage site covers 6,500 acres of chalk downland and fields. It includes parts of Amesbury and Larkhill, and nearby villages. Ownership and management of the site are shared between English Heritage, the National Trust, the Ministry of Defence, the RSPB, Wiltshire Council, farmers and householders.
The monument of Stonehenge is managed by English Heritage and a large part of the World Heritage Site is open free of charge all year round.
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to prepare you for long hikes such as the Sarsen Trail. If you would like any further information or advice, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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