\\\ Dog Walks
Can I Take My Dog On The Ridgeway National Trail Walk?
The National Trail – The Ridgeway
The Ridgeway is one of seven of England and Wales National Trails
Pictures are from the Pet Check gallery taken walking The Ridgeway Walk, photographed June 2021.
The Ridgeway is one of seven of England and Wales National Trails. Scotland has nine making a current total of sixteen fantastic trails to hike, ramble or amble, whichever way you prefer to take in the stunning views over the counties.
The Ridgeway begins at Overton Hill just outside the World Heritage Site of Avebury, the Ridgeway stretches 87 miles to Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire.
Some of the real benefit of walking on The National Trails is the fabulous condition of the footpaths, bridleways and farming areas one accesses. This is partly down to the unique way they are locally financed and cared for by the high number of volunteers and estate managers.
This Trail is especially well signposted using the special dedicated Trail signage and you’ll find that footpaths are well kept being maintained by the dedicated team of volunteers and supervised by the local employed Trail manager. The Ridgeway Trail has a dedicated website page on the main National Trail website and if you have any queries you can have them answered by local knowledgeable staffers.
Walking The Ridgeway National Trail with your dog falls into three categories –
- The local dog walker that has never walked more than a couple of miles with their dog
- The average dog walker that goes out for a longer weekend walk who covers a walk between 5-10 miles
- The very experienced hiker and dog used to covering up to 30 miles a day
If you have never walked a distance with your dog, then it’s possibly best to start building up experience and stamina, with a longer walk each week with your dog until they are ready. Vets always advise that puppies and younger dogs under 18 months shouldn’t be walking longer distances, nor older, arthritic dogs.
The average dog walker who loves taking a longer ramble once a week than the normal daily dog walks could be very suited to trying the seventeen ‘The Ridgeway Circular and Linear Walks and Rides’ shorter circular routes.
The Ridgeway Circular Walks allow you to park your vehicle, take in the views from a lovely walk returning to it and then perhaps finding a local village pub for a lovely ‘pub lunch’ meal afterwards making a great day out. These walks range from as little as 3 miles to 12 miles in length.
The National Trail have taken the hard work of you pouring over maps and reading up books identifying the best Circular short walks for you and your dog that can be taken anytime of the year. They provide extra information as to how assessible the walks are, perhaps a nearby refreshment facility and what you’ll likely to see on the walk. Some of the routes can include cyclists and horse riders.
The 17 short Circular Walks and length include –
- Aldbourne Circular Route – 12 miles
- Ashbury Circulars: a long walk, a shortcut and a shorter walk 7.34 miles – short walk 2.5 miles
- Aston Rowant Discovery Trail – 5.3 miles
- Bishopstone Circular Walk – 4 3/4 miles
- Box Wood Walk: Southern Circular Walk – 3 miles
- Box Wood Walks: Northern Circular Walk – 3.5 miles
- Compton Circular route – 5.3/4 miles
- Devil’s Punchbowl and Segsbury Camp – 7 1/2 miles
- Liddington Hill Literary circular walk – 4 miles
- Princes Risborough Chiltern Society Circular Walk 7 miles
- Ridgeway Link 7 1/2 miles
- The Phoenix Trail – Thame to Princes Risborough 5 miles
- Views of the Thames Circular Walks: North Wessex Downs and Chilterns walk – 4 1/2 miles
- Views of the Vale walk: Wendover Woods 7 miles
- Views of the Vale: Coombe Hill walk 3 miles
- White Horse Hill Circular Walk 4 1/4 mile
- Whiteleaf Walk 5.7 miles
There’s plenty of farm animals you’ll meet, mostly secured in fields including sheep, horses and cows. Your dog will need to be secured on a lead when animals come in sight and can be let off once past. Remember to shut all gates securely.
The Ridgeway is deemed to be one of the easier National Trails and could take a experienced hiker just three days to complete with nightly stop overs, covering up to 30 miles a day. However, it is the ability and strength of your dog that dictates the length of days of the walk required.
There are a few companies such as Maximum Adventures offering the Trail as a complete 87 mile walk, over eight days, putting in place nightly accommodation, luggage transfers, and necessary guided knowledge if required to help you make it an enjoyable holiday break. They also suggest they can accommodate dog walkers. This distance and time taken would suit many dog owners.
There are numerous personal statements made by hikers on the web who have completed the full Trail, all with differing accounts of the number of days and length of time walking each day. It’s advisable to have a read through these before making your arrangements and note the time taken at differing times of the year along with the weather conditions. Pre-planning is essential.
If you’re planning to walk the whole Trail then we’d thoroughly recommend you buy Steve Davison’s – ‘The Ridgeway National Trail – Avebury to Invinghoe Beacon Described in Both Directions’ who has published a series of National Trail booklets. Available Blackwells Bookshop.
OS maps are available on the National Trail website downloads. It can also be helpful to have paper copies with you when walking if you do get confused with sign posts and manage to get lost or your mobile stops working. Reading up the history before the walk will only add value to your special days out.
Circular Day Walks will need the usual gear for your dog
Collar and ID tag
Short, Long lead and Muzzle
Dog Coat suited for the weather conditions prevailing
Water and Collapsible Bowl
Whistle and/or Clicker
Dog Poop bags
Treats (meal ready at end of walk at the car)
Towels (at end of walk if wet conditions dry off your dog)
Sun bloc for your dog
Lightweight emergency First Aid pack
More Water (at the end of the walk left ready in car)
Walking the 87 mile trail will require more specialised equipment to be prepared for the UK’s changeable weather conditions and the length of time planned to be spent walking the Trail.
\\\ The National Trails Code
REMINDERS WHEN VISITING A NATIONAL TRAIL The National Trails Countryside Code General Advice
- Wash your hands as soon as you are back indoors.
- Take hand sanitiser with you in case there are no handwashing facilities.
- Follow the Countryside Code.
- Be nice, say hello, share the space.
- Plan your adventure – know what to expect and what you can do.
- Take your litter home – leave no trace of your visit.
- Take care with BBQs and do not light fires.
- Always keep dogs under control and in sight.
- Dog poo – bag it and bin it – any public waste bin will do.
- Leave gates and property as you find them.
- Do not to feed livestock, horses or wild animals.
- Follow local signs and keep to marked paths unless wider access is available.
- Care for nature – do not cause damage or disturbance.
- Check your route and local conditions.
- Be considerate to those living in, working in and enjoying the countryside.
- Remember to follow social distancing measures and stay safe.
If you really enjoyed a great day out help The Friends of The Ridgeway, registered charity (No 1107926), with their projects who are actively raising funds for which include (1) Ridgeway National Trail, (2) Swire Ridgeway Arts Prize, (3) Great Chalk Way, (4) Resurfacing in Works Heritage Site, (5) Special Appeal or (6) General Ridgeway Fund by providing a small donation.
The National Trust
The National Trust also has a short 5 mile walk The Avebury Ridgeway Walk walking around Avebury and Overton Down.
Avebury henge and stone circles are one of the greatest marvels of prehistoric Britain. Built and much altered during the Neolithic period, roughly between 2850 BC and 2200 BC, the henge survives as a huge circular bank and ditch, encircling an area that includes part of Avebury village. Within the henge is the largest stone circle in Britain – originally of about 100 stones – which in turn encloses two smaller stone circles.English Heritage
The recent pandemic has bought about new changes to the ways we do things. Post lockdown restrictions may require households not to travel in certain areas of the UK. It’s advisable to check with your local council and social media websites before making special journeys.
Map Image Courtesy of GuidePost.
The New Countryside Code
The new Countryside Code is a revision of the older version after 70 years which applies to all public areas, including National Trails.
Our recent blog highlights the most important features dog walkers should know.
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