Sarsen Way – North to South

These route directions, from Manningford Abbotts onwards, are identical to those for the Pewsey Avon Trail (PAT), and for this section, are an update of the original directions (for the north to south route only) given by Chris Cole in his excellent guide book published in 2010 when the PAT was first established. This guide book is still available from The Hobnob Press, at www.hobnobpress.co.uk, and is recommended due to the huge amount of historical and interesting information relevant to the Trail which it contains.

Overton Hill/A4 to Upavon

Distance: 10.9 miles (17.4 km) (although it can be broken up into shorter stages, for example at Knap Hill or Honey Street) Maps: OS Explorer 130, OS Landranger 184

Cross the A4, with great care, and go down the byway opposite, with The Sanctuary to your right. At the bottom of the hill, bear left and right along the track, cross over the River Kennet and join a tarmac road. At the junction with the main road through the village (East Kennett), turn left. At the last house on the right, where the road curves left, fork right on a byway towards Manor Farm. After 300m, fork left, following the track up Lurkely Hill for 1.25 miles (2km) – from here the view north-west includes Silbury Hill – to pass through the tree-shaded remains of the Wansdyke. Follow the track down through three fields, keeping the fence on your left to a road with the Knap Hill car park opposite.

Do not cross the road, but turn right just before it through a metal kissing gate, joining the Mid Wilts Way very briefly. Follow the well beaten track through two more metal kissing gates. Turn half right, with the Neolithic long barrow known as Adam’s Grave on top of Walkers Hill to your left, to join an obvious path beside, or on top of, a low earthwork.  Join the White Horse Trail (WHT) (and leave the Mid Wilts Way) at a multiple junction of paths after 50m or so. Here take the obvious path half left which skirts Walkers Hill, then descends beyond it in two stages to reach a kissing gate.

The original route went through this gate and down to a tarmac road, however the route has been changed to avoid having to walk on this road more than is necessary. So do not go through the kissing gate, but turn left along any of the obvious paths just before it (this is an open access area, hence the variation in paths). After 375m, arrive at a large, square metal gate in a wooden fence. Go through this (unfortunately it is quite heavy) and turn right to arrive at the road after another (field) gate. Walk carefully down this for approx. 75m, then turn left into a chalky field entrance. Head down an enclosed bridleway, which can get very overgrown. This becomes tarmac for the last few metres before arriving at the road through Alton Priors.

Go slightly left to continue down a tarmac road past an old thatched barn (on right) and Priory Cottages (to left). At the end of the road, go right through an old-fashioned wooden turnstile and pass to the right of All Saints church. Just beyond it, join a cobbled path which connects the church with Alton Barnes. Follow this over two small footbridges with wooden turnstiles at both ends. At a crossroads of cobbled paths, continue ahead to arrive at a fourth wooden turnstile onto a tarmac road. Turn right along this to the main road. Turn left (the WHT route to Devizes turns right through a field after 20m) and walk down the road to the bridge over the Kennet & Avon canal.

Approximately 130m before the bridge, you pass the memorial to RAF Alton Barnes. A few metres to the right of the road is a sign on a blue background marked “R.A.F. Alton Barnes Memorial” indicating a kissing stile to its left which gives permissive access to the memorial some 20m beyond the gate. It is sited on the only remaining air raid shelter from the war time base, above a padlocked steel gate. Sadly it is now completely hidden by overgrown vegetation, and is inaccessible.

Return to the road and turn right along it towards the bridge over the canal. Cross this, then turn immediately right and go under the bridge to join the towpath going east. You now have the option of visiting another WWII memorial: after 300m, and after passing three flights of steps down the canal bank to a field, which are quite close together, on your right you will see a sign by a stile marked simply “To Memorial”. It is to two airmen who lost their lives when their Albemarle bomber crashed nearby in 1944. If you wish to see it, do not follow the direction of the sign but cross the rather awkward stile and continue parallel to the canal, passing bridge 123 on the way, for 50m, where you will find the memorial on your left.

You can now either return to where you entered the field, turn right along the towpath and pass under bridge 123, or continue past the memorial to the stile in the corner of the field and return to the towpath. At bridge 122 cross over the canal and continue on the towpath on the other side. At bridge 120 (there is no bridge 121!), which is Ladies Bridge, cross over the canal again and walk down the track southwards to join the long drive to Cocklebury Farm. At the end, cross the road to the memorial stone at Swanborough Tump.

This commemorates the meeting between the future King Alfred the Great and his elder brother King Aethlred I in 871 on their way to fight the invading Danes, when each of them swore that if the other died in battle, the dead man’s children would inherit the lands of their father, King Aethelwulf. It was erected by families who bear the Swanborough name.

Cross the stile next to this (although access to the field can also be gained by walking past the memorial) and walk down the right-hand edge of a long field, which can get very muddy, keeping Frith Copse to your right. Cross the Paddington to Exeter railway line at the end of this with care. Continue south along a footpath with woodland to right and open farmland to left. At the end of the woodland, go straight on down a track, with a large white house to right. This is Dragon Lane, and soon becomes a metalled road. Go along this until a T junction is reached. Here turn left and walk along the road for some 60m to a signpost in the hedge on the right. Turn right.

Follow the footpath down the left-hand side of the field, then go through an enclosed section past a thatched barn to right. Go through a wooden kissing gate and across a small paddock, then through another wooden kissing gate by a corrugated iron barn. Continue ahead to the Mill (on the left). Cross a small footbridge, the first of three in quick succession, followed by muddy ground, to arrive at a wooden field gate into a field. Manningford Abbots church is clearly visible at the other end of the field.

Go half right across the field towards a wooden kissing gate. It is here that you join the Pewsey Avon Trail (PAT). Go through the gate and a small wood (this section can get extremely boggy) via two sleeper bridges. Exit by another kissing gate into a field and bear diagonally right across it, with a black and white thatched cottage in view on your left. Enter another small but boggy wood through a kissing gate.

Emerge onto a minor road, cross it and go down a wall-lined track beside The White House. Go through another kissing gate and bear half left across the field to yet another kissing gate which leads through the narrow band of trees via a sleeper bridge. Exit through a kissing gate and turn left, away from the WHT, but following the PAT, in a brief diversion to see the Manningford Bruce church. Aim for another kissing gate at the end of a wall round a large house, and follow the wall to the churchyard. Leave this by the main gate, cross the road and follow the signed footpath opposite between metal fences. Enter the next field via a stile and follow the left-hand field edge to a stile and signpost by a thatched cottage, which is only visible at the last minute. You rejoin the WHT at this point. Cross the minor road (Wick Lane) and take the footpath a few paces to the left.

Emerge by the large brick barns of the Manningford Business Unit and continue ahead, firstly on grass, then down the tarmac drive. At the junction, turn right towards a pair of imposing pillars between metal railings, but before reaching them go left along a wide strip of grass. The path kinks right and left to emerge beside the river at the Manningford Trout Fishery. Cross the concrete bridge, continue briefly on the gravel path, then bear right up the wide path alongside the river. Cross this at North Newnton church, go past its porch and along the tarmac drive to exit onto the road opposite Falkner’s Farm. Leave the WHT here, but remain on the PAT, by turning left to follow the road to the roundabout at the Woodbridge Inn. The Sarsen Way now follows the PAT all the way to Salisbury.

Turn left in front of the inn, cross the road by the roundabout and follow the path on the verge on the other side towards Pewsey. After crossing the river, turn right at the PAT sign towards Everleigh. After about 550m you will arrive at a Y-shaped intersection. Fork right here. When the grass ends, continue along the gravel track, then tarmac road, past farm buildings, and finally beside houses in Vicarage Lane, prior to reaching the A342. Turn right over the river to Upavon village centre.

Upavon to Enford

Distance: 4.8 miles (7.7 km) Maps: OS Explorer 130, OS Landranger 184

Leave the centre of Upavon by following the No Entry road alongside the Antelope Inn, against the flow of traffic. Stay on the pavement until it ends, shortly before the T junction with the A342 to Devizes. Cross over at the island onto the grass verge, where there is a seat and wooden carving that commemorates the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Directly opposite it is the turning to Widdington (a farm) and the shooting club. Cross the road with care into the no through road, and follow it all the way to the vedette at Casterley Camp, climbing steadily for about 800m, then easing off after passing a pair of tall masts above a reservoir. The higher you get, the better the views!

On reaching the vedette, turn left through the open parking area and follow the wide gravel track alongside the edge of the impact area. This is a military road, so be aware of the occasional light vehicle (tanks use the parallel dirt track to the right). Ignore the bridleway sign some 30m ahead, as well as the first left hand turning you come to, which is a permissive byway signposted A Crossing. You have no choice but to take the next turning to the left as the way ahead is out of bounds, as indicated by a red rectangular sign. The route follows the byway, signed as the Ridgeway Route, for 1,200m to the large barns of West Chisenbury Farm. Turn right here onto a narrow tarmac track, which is a byway.

After 250m, the narrow tarmac track turns sharp left, with an almost horizontal sign indicating “No access to the public”. Continue ahead downhill between fences to emerge beside houses at Compton Farm. This section can get very overgrown in summer. Bear right (straight on) along the road which bends through the farmyard. As you exit this, the landowner has thoughtfully installed a kissing gate in the fence ahead, enabling walkers to cross the field beyond, to the left of a pond, to reach another kissing gate in the corner. This cuts out the dogleg required to follow the right of way, which leads to a stile some 80m or so further along the road.

Now follow the fence to left on a wide grass track, and bear right behind a white thatched cottage. The grass track climbs between low banks, parallel to the main road, with the Avon beyond. Pass through a wide gap at the top, to the left of a redundant kissing gate, and go through another kissing gate in front of barns. Continue past the barns to a junction. Go straight on past the electricity sub-station on a rutted track signed as a bridleway. At the top of the slope, arrive at a bend in a lane, and turn immediately left through the kissing gate into a field. Pass to the right of the wooden pylon and continue in the same direction slightly downhill, aiming towards a distant mast. Go through the kissing gate to the left of the thatched cottage into a small wood, and follow the path down steps to the main road. Cross this to enter the village of Enford. Proceed as far as the church, which is on the left, where this stage ends.

Enford to Figheldean

Distance: 4.3 miles (6.9 km) Maps: OS Explorer 130, OS Landranger 184

Turn left out of the church car park, then right again at the T junction, signed Netheravon and Coombe Lane. Pass under the gantry outside the Swan Inn. Follow the lane through Longstreet to the junction in Coombe on your left, just beyond Glebe House, signed as Coombe Lane. Turn right here down an enclosed track. Don’t miss the blue plaque on the wall placed there in memory of two policemen who lost their lives on this spot in 1913. After passing the sewage pumping station (on the left), cross the river on an old metal bridge, then keep ahead to Fifield. Follow the lane as it bends left, and at the right-hand bend fork left down a track.

Cross over the tank track and proceed straight on across the field to a kissing gate. Walk beside the left-hand edge of the next field, then go half right in the following field aiming for a corner of trees. Continue along the valley on a track towards Netheravon, with the river and Fittleton’s church on the left. Bear left (straight on) along the minor road (Mill Road), passing the Stonehenge Ales brewery, to a T junction. There is a McColl’s shop 50m to the right here, should you be in need of sustenance. Turn left to cross the river again on Haxton bridge.

Entering Haxton, keep following the road round to the right, signed to Everleigh, and go past the turning into Lower Street. Then after the first bungalow on the right, and opposite Old Post House Cottage, go down a narrow fence-lined path. At the end of the path turn right, then left at the next junction. Bear right at an unsigned fork past a small lake (on your right), then through woods, to come out on a minor road. Turn left here for 50m to arrive at Choulston Farm.

Turn right just past its entrance through a kissing gate. Head across the field, to the right of the sewage works and past a small copse on the right, going through two more kissing gates in the process, to arrive at a lane. Turn right (effectively straight on) along the lane, then at a Y-shaped junction fork right towards Figheldean (pronounced Filedeen!). Follow the lane for 200m, then turn left, opposite the church, up through trees. Bear right along the fence at the top. Follow the path round to the left at a crossing of tracks soon after, passing allotments to your left and houses to the right. Cross the minor road (Pollen Lane) to end this stage at Figheldean’s village hall.

Figheldean to Amesbury

Distance: 4.5 miles (7.2 km) Maps: OS Explorer 130, OS Landranger 184

Take the wide grass path down the side of the village hall out into the open countryside. Follow the fence on your right towards the houses and fork right (effectively straight on) to emerge beside a post box and parish council notice board. Continue straight on, beside the wall, to emerge onto another road, opposite Ablington Farm. [There is an alternative permissive route here devised by the landowner for those who would like to avoid the livestock in the fields ahead: turn right down the road for 20m, then take the track to the left as far as the stile* below]. To continue on the standard route, go through the kissing gate just to the right of the farm entrance, into a paddock. Cross it, following the wall, then cross a stile that has been extensively chewed by horses! Proceed towards another stile* in the trees ahead. Still going straight on, pass over a farm track and onto a wide rutted track between trees. This may be muddy and partly overgrown.

Cross over the access road to Syrencot House, onto a path through more trees. Exit onto a gravel track, and bear slightly right to locate the ongoing path that meanders across a grassy field. Cross over the military road, go up the low bank, and continue across another grassy field, with houses ahead. Aim for the detached house beside trees. Between them is a narrow fence-lined path that exits onto the road beside a post box at The Croft. Turn right along the road and follow it all the way to Milston church. Note the old sundial above the porch roof.

Follow the road round to the left for a further 200m. Immediately after the second bend (left), turn right at the metal railings onto a narrow tarmac path over the river. Turn left and cross the river for a second time. Follow the path around to the left to emerge on a narrow lane. Turn right along this and go past some cottages. Immediately after the second one, where the lane bends left, take the footpath that forks right into the trees. The elevated path meanders back and forth, then finally bears away from the river to exit through a kissing gate. Continue ahead through two more kissing gates. This brings you into a field, with houses over to the left. Bear right along the edge of the field to join a narrow tarmac lane. This takes you all the way to Bulford church.

Carefully cross the A3028. Go through the gate opposite and over the footbridge. Turn right and walk along the edge of the field until you arrive at a stile by the entrance to the Dovecot (a property). Cross this, turn left, then within 50m go right onto a concrete road. At the entrance to the Watergate Farm coarse fishing lake, bear left on a path between trees. This climbs up to join a gravel track. Proceed ahead, still climbing. Soon after the track levels off, pass a pylon to your right. Over to the left you can see wireless masts and the various Ministry of Defence buildings around Bulford and Boscombe Down. The track ends at an electricity sub-station, with wires radiating in various directions. At the bridleway sign (on your left), turn left along the tarmac road. The noise of traffic on the A303 intensifies.

Just before reaching the A303, our road bends left. On the bend is a three-way bridleway sign. Turn right through a tunnel of trees on a tarmac path that runs parallel to the A303, then crosses over the dual carriageway. On the other side the path emerges onto a residential road (Ratfyn Road). Turn right along it to the next junction. Go through the gate on your right to enter Lord’s Walk.

You now have two choices: the easiest, quietest, and most straightforward route is to proceed ahead on the wide grass strip between trees, exiting onto the A345 at the far end. Seats are provided but the trees obstruct distant views. A more interesting alternative drops down the hillside to follow the river but is noisier due to its closer proximity to the A303. To take this route, a few paces after entering through the gate, turn right beside the electricity sub-station. Follow the purpose-built path through the trees, initially going back in the opposite direction. At first the path descends gradually, then steps are provided where it drops more steeply, to emerge near the A303 river bridge. Now follow the riverside path all the way to the A345. Both routes emerge onto Countess Road within a short distance of each other. Turn left to arrive at a crossroads with traffic lights. Turn right here for the High Street.

Parking is available, at a price, in the Central Car Park a bit further on along the A345 (Salisbury Road). Alternatively, you can park for free in Bonnymead Park, which is on the PAT route to Old Sarum, although the parking area is much smaller.

Amesbury to Old Sarum

Distance: 7 miles (11.2 km) Maps: OS Explorer 130, OS Landranger 184

Turn left out of the Central Car Park (towards the A303), and at the crossroads turn left into the High Street. This becomes Church Street after crossing Salisbury Street, which comes in from the left. Pass the church, which is set well back from the road, on the right, and cross the Avon on Queensberry Bridge. When the road bends right, continue ahead on Recreation Road, which leads to Bonnymead Park. Take the footpath which forks off to the right of the children’s play area at the entrance to the park. Cross three bridges over the Avon at Ham Hatches and proceed to a crossroads of tracks near a house. Continue straight on along a grassy track that climbs gradually to another crossroad of tracks.

The track widens considerably here and becomes gravel. Continue ahead, climbing a bit more, then descending to a double field gate (one side of which is usually left open) next to a bridle gate into a field. Maintain direction, now climbing again, as the gravel track peters out into grass. Follow the hilltop above the valley, keeping to the right of a fenced tree plantation, then go half right towards a double field gate next to a bridle gate. Shortly before reaching this, another path comes up from the valley on the right to join ours. Pass through the gate and continue along the bridleway between hedge and fence. Cross an intermediate track, then gradually bear left towards Ham Wood on a wide, clear track. Follow this along the left-hand edge of the wood down to a minor road in front of Beech Wood, with Fairwood House on the right.

Turn right along the road, past the imposing entrance to Great Durnford Manor’s drive, into Great Durnford. Entering the village at a bend, St Andrew’s church is clearly visible in front of you. Continue through the village past the turning where Netton and Amesbury are signposted, but not the turning itself! Some 50m beyond the Black Horse pub, turn right down a gravel track beside a private car park. This is the driveway to Durnford Mill. Turn right onto the footbridge over the weir in front of the mill, then follow the path across a second bridge over another river channel. Fork right, then immediately go left round a tree to climb the bank to another unsigned junction. Proceed along the left-hand edge of an open field, with the river to your left. The path becomes enclosed between hedges, and crosses a track at Woodford Green. Go straight on, then at the next intersection bear right (effectively straight on) between hedges, then paddocks. After bending right, exit by a gravel driveway onto the road.

Turn left, now following part of National Cycle Route 45. Arriving at the Bridge Inn, turn left over the river. Although unclassified, this road can be busy at times as it is the main access road from the Woodford villages to the A345. Follow the road to Netton, ignoring the turning to the left to Great Durnford. Walk all the way through Netton, then after a right-hand bend and just before the speed derestriction sign, look for a gap in the trees on your left (easy to miss as there is no sign). Enter the woods, and follow the narrow path that climbs diagonally up the hillside, gradually at first, then becoming progressively steeper. The path emerges at the top of the wood into a large open field. Follow the obvious track in front of you beside a fence. After 100m you will emerge onto a wide, stony farm track, beside a seat dedicated to Eddie, a pleasant spot for a rest.

Turn left up the farm track for about 120m to a bridleway junction. Turn right onto a wide grass track with a fence to the right. In the far corner of the field, go through a gap into a strip of woodland, where you cross the Monarch’s Way. On the other side, continue ahead across the centre of a large field. The top of the spire of Salisbury Cathedral comes into sight at this point.  The path dips down to cross a footpath, known as The Avenue, by Keeper’s Cottage. Climb up the other side of the dip and at the top the massive hillfort of Old Sarum is seemingly just a stone’s throw away. In reality, there is still almost a mile to go to get to it.

Ignore the track going off to the right at the top of the slope and continue on the wide track past a cottage and across the minor road (which goes left to the Beehive Park & Ride). Follow the fence lined path round the base of the hillfort. Exit through two gates beside a farm onto the entrance drive to the interior of Old Sarum. Bear right if you wish to visit the English Heritage site, where you will find a car park and toilets.

Old Sarum to Salisbury

Distance: 3 miles (4.8 km) Maps: OS Explorer 130, OS Landranger 184

From the Old Sarum car park, walk back down the entrance drive to the yellow box markings at the bend. Go through the gate on your right. Do not climb the bank, but bear left to a second gate, and follow the gravel track towards the main road. Just before reaching it, turn right. If starting from the layby in the A345 or by public transport, join the trail here, opposite the Harvester pub. Follow the hedgerow on your right, with views of Salisbury across Hudson’s Field.

At the end of the field, exit through a gate, signed Phillips Lane. Continue beside the hedgerow and exit this field through a gate in the corner, at a Y-shaped junction. Fork left onto a narrow path enclosed by fences and hedges. Emerge onto the road beside a thatched wall. Turn right along the pavement. Cross over the road (where there is another thatched wall), and turn left into Mill Lane, which is clearly signed. At the end, bear left past the entrance to Avonside House.

Walk between staggered railings next to a No Cycling sign onto a tarmac path. Cross the river on a footbridge. You now have two options, with several possibilities of switching between them:

  • For the official route, continue ahead for 100m to an unsigned crossing of tracks. Turn left here onto an enclosed path. This turns right and left after some 150m, then gets narrower, with open fields to the right and a good view of the cathedral ahead. Kink left and right at a fence by some allotments, and follow the path to a sports field (the Fisherton Recreation Ground, which incorporates Butts Sportsfield). Proceed ahead along the field edge to a children’s play area.
  • A more scenic option is to turn left onto a well used path (which is permissive initially) as soon as you have crossed the footbridge. This path veers away from the river at first, but gradually returns to its side not long before a lengthy section of boardwalk. Stay next to the river all the way to the children’s play area mentioned in (1) above. Turn left on reaching it.

Cross the small bridge over the river hatches and follow the riverside path to the next bridge. Here we re-join National Cycle Route 45, and also join the Golden Way circular cycle route.

Now follow the combined riverside path and cycle route into the city. Pass under the ring road and a railway bridge, and over various roads. The cathedral spire is constantly in view and the route is well signed. Stay beside the river until you reach the shops at The Maltings, passing the library and Market Walk to the left shortly before this.

Go straight on through the archway and over the pedestrian river bridge to the left of the Bishop’s Mill pub. Cross the road (Bridge Street) and turn left down the side of the King’s Head Inn, with the river now on your right, to arrive at Crane Street. Turn right here to join the Cranborne Droves Way.

To reach the end of the Sarsen Way and visit the cathedral, turn left along Crane Street and right at the traffic lights/crossroads down the High Street. Go under the archway to enter the Cathedral Close. Continue ahead to the west door of the cathedral, where the trail ends. Outside the cathedral entrance is a signpost which displays a waymark for the start of the Avon Valley Path, which is effectively a continuation of the Sarsen Way (and PAT) to the coast at Christchurch.