Ancient Landscapes of Wessex

The landscape of Salisbury Plain and the North Wessex Downs is steeped in ancient history. The town of Amesbury on the edge of Salisbury Plain is considered to be the oldest settlement in Britain, having been continuously inhabited since 8820BC, and the evidence is apparent in the surrounding countryside which is littered with a dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age burial sites, standing stones, flint workings and mysterious chalk hill figures. Stonehenge and Avebury, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Originally a Neolithic axe traders' route which connected the Dorset coast to the coast of The Wash in East Anglia, the ancient Ridgeway, Britain's oldest road, has been in use for at least 5,000 years. It provided a dry, high level route with good visibility which was easy to protect against possible attack. Nowadays it provides wonderful recreational walking through a timeless landscape. 


                                   Tim Gartside / age fotostock
Of course, the North Wessex Downs AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) has plenty to offer aside from history. The countryside is a mix of rolling chalk grassland, secluded river valleys, attractive villages, meadows, arable fields and pockets of deciduous woodland. The calcareous grassland supports an abundance of wild flowers, butterflies, insects and birds. This is great countryside for spotting both ground nesting birds and birds of prey, and during June and July wild orchids grow in profusion.
 Robert Harding Picture Library

Highlights of the walks will include the far-reaching views from the high points of Barbury Castle, Morgan's Hill and Walkers Hill, the Bronze Age Uffington White Horse, mysterious Silbury Hill, the Neolithic chambered tombs at West Kennett and Wayland's Smithy, the reconstructed Woodhenge, and the world-famous stone circles at Stonehenge and Avebury.

Our visit to Stonehenge takes you off the beaten track to explore the 'Ceremonial Landscape' with a walk from Durrington Walls (the world's largest 'henge' and becoming increasingly significant among archaeologists) and Woodhenge to follow the 'Avenue' (the ancient ceremonial route) to the stones . From Stonehenge we continue the walk over historic Normanton Down with its scattering of Bronze Age 'round barrows' (site of many of the most spectacular archaeological finds). Normanton Down is also a conservation area for wildlife and is noted for rare butterflies, birds and mammals.

Your holiday in Wessex will be based at a comfortable family-run guest house in the market town of Devizes. Your room will have ensuite bathroom facilities and you will have a choice of continental or full English breakfast. Devizes has a good range of hotels and pubs serving meals in the evening.


What's included in the price of this holiday?





Bed & Breakfast
Holiday Options

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Grade:Easy - Moderate
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Easy Easy
Grade:Easy - Moderate
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Easy Easy
Grade:Easy - Moderate
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Travel information
Rail: Swindon
Onward travel: Public bus or taxi

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