Chalk grassland is firm underfoot on this heritage trail, which links together Neolithic stone circles, Saxon earthworks, Norman churches and stunning views over the Alton Barnes White Horse. The Great Stones Way tours the Salisbury Plain and meanders alongside the River Avon, visiting thatched cottage hamlets and historic towns on its way. Surround yourself in British history on a challenging weekend hike or a relaxed week-long ramble.
•Visiting the World Heritage Sites at the stone circles of Avebury and Stonehenge.
•Taking in sweeping views across the Vale of Pewsey and Salisbury Plain.
•Walking through Longstreet, surrounded by beautiful thatched cottages.
Starting on the Ridgeway National Trail, the Great Stones Way departs Barbury Castle and passes the Fyfield Downs National Nature Reserve on its way to Overton Hill, where there are several early Bronze Age burial mounds. Ancient sites are all over this route, including the concentric circles of The Sanctuary, dating from 3000BC; the Saxon Wansdyke earthworks; the Neolithic site of Adam's Grave; and the Norman All Saints Church - all of this before you're even a quarter of the way in. Stride out to visit the Avebury Henge and Alton Barnes White Horse, which stretches out across the green hillside.
The chalk grassland of Salisbury Plain awaits, with history engraved in Marden Henge and Casterly Camp, the earthworks that remain of what was once an Iron Age hill fort. The Great Stones Way passes on through Compton, Enford and Longstreet, complete with picturesque thatched cottages. A glorious, looping section of the trail takes in Durrington Walls, Woodhenge and Stonehenge itself, with numerous burial mounds en route.
The walk continues onward to Armesbury, a settlement established some 9000 years ago, and then out across Normanton Down with the NSPB nature reserve to the right. After Great Durnford, it at last comes to Old Sarum, the official end of the route. Once an Iron Age hill fort, it became a Roman town and was later built into a motte. Later still, a castle was constructed on the site, and sections of it still remain.
The walk on to Salisbury, with its excellent transport links and numerous shops, follows a shaded bridleway and skirts the Avon Valley nature reserve before continuing along the riverside. Departing the bank, it heads in through an ancient gate, and finally reaches its conclusion at towering Salisbury cathedral.
Book an extra night to delve deeper into local life on the Great Stones Way.
Avebury is rich in history and a great place to take an extra day to truly explore the area. Clamber Silsbury Hill, which is the largest man-made mound in Europe and dates from 2400 BC; visit the Alexander Keiller Museum, which houses one of the most important prehistoric archaeological collections in Britain; take another stroll through the Neolithic stone circles; or enjoy more recent history at Avebury Manor and Garden.
Salisbury’s iconic cathedral houses an original 1215 Magna Carta. The city’s medieval streets are a sightseeing treasure themselves, and it’s easy to spend a day here simply wandering around the shops, cafes and restaurants.