Sarsen Way – South to North

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.

Salisbury to Old Sarum

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

The Sarsen Way starts outside the west door of the cathedral. Facing the entrance, turn left. Cross North Walk and go past The Green and through the Cathedral Close. Pass under the archway into the High Street, and continue ahead to the traffic lights/crossroads.

Turn left along Crane Street. Just before the bridge, instead of continuing ahead on the Cranborne Droves Way towards Win Green,  turn right onto a tarmac path next to the river. On reaching the road (Bridge Street), with a distinctive clock tower to your left and the King’s Head Inn to your right, cross the road, then the river via the pedestrian bridge to the right of the Bishop’s Mill pub. Go through the archway and continue ahead on the tarmac path, which is shared with National Cycle Route 45 and the Golden Way circular cycle route. Keep the river close to your right, passing over several roads and under a railway bridge, then the bridge under the ring road, to walk through Ashley Road Open Space.

When the National Cycle Route 45 and the Golden Way turn right over the river, continue ahead along the riverside path. Cross the small bridge over the river hatches into a sports field (the Fisherton Recreation Ground, which incorporates Butts Sportsfield), with a children’s play area to your left. You now have two options, with several possibilities of switching between them:

  • The official route continues along the right-hand side of the sports ground, then passes to the right of the Fisherton Community Orchard to follow a fence on the left, eventually passing allotments. When the fence ends, the route kinks left and right onto an enclosed path, which you follow all the way to a crossing of tracks, about 1 mile (1.6 km) after leaving the small bridge. Turn right here and after 100m cross the river on a footbridge.
  • A more scenic option is to turn right immediately after crossing the small bridge onto a well used path beside the river, which incorporates a lengthy boardwalk. When the boardwalk comes to an end, continue ahead on an obvious path which veers gradually away from the river but returns to its side just before the footbridge across the river mentioned in (1) above, which you cross.

Continue on the tarmac path on the other side and pass through staggered railings at its end to pass the entrance to Avonside House on the left. Turn right onto Mill Lane to a junction with Stratford Road. Turn right here, cross the road, then turn left onto a byway beside a thatched cottage, just before St. Lawrence Close, signed Old Sarum ½ mile. Proceed up a narrow path enclosed by hedges and fences.

Where this bends sharp left, go through a gate on the right into a field and follow the hedge on the left to another gate in its corner. Keep the hedge still on your left in the next field to arrive at a T junction with a tarmac path, with the A345 only a few metres to the right. Turn left up the path and bear right up to a gate which gives access to the yellow box markings on 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 Amesbury

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

Walk down from the car park towards the A345, but before reaching it turn left through two small gates next to a farm into a fence-lined path round the base of the hillfort. Cross the minor road (which goes right to the Beehive Park & Ride) and follow the broad track downhill past a cottage, then gradually uphill and down again to pass Keeper’s Cottage on your left. Here you cross a footpath known as The Avenue. Climb up out of the dip, bearing right at a fork immediately after Keepers’s Cottage, and continue across the centre of a large field. Go through a copse, where you cross the Monarch’s Way, and continue along the bridleway on the left-hand side of a field to arrive at a T junction with a wide, stony farm track.

Turn left onto this, and after 120m arrive at a track to the right, beside a seat dedicated to Eddie, a pleasant spot for a rest. Go down the track, with a fence to your left. At the field corner go straight on into the wood rather than following it round to the right. There is a well used path through the wood, which descends quite steeply at first, then more gradually, to a road. Turn right here and walk through the village of Netton, then on to the bridge across the Avon, ignoring the turning to Great Durnford on your right. On the other side of the bridge is the Bridge Inn in Upper Woodford.

Turn right for 200m to a signed footpath to the right down a gravel drive in front of metal railings. The drive becomes a track between paddocks, then hedges. Bear left (effectively straight on) at the first intersection, then cross a track at Woodford Green. Continue along the track, now enclosed by hedges, into an open field, with the Avon on your right. When the field comes to an end, go down the slope and turn right round a tree to turn left across a bridge over the river. Follow the path over a second bridge in front of Durnford Mill, then continue down its driveway onto the road through Great Durnford.

Turn left and walk through the village, passing the Black Horse pub on the left, a turning to the right where Netton and Amesbury are signposted, but not the turning itself, and St James’ church on the left just before a bend to the right. Continue on the road uphill, then down again past the imposing entrance to Great Durnford manor. Soon after this, take the bridleway to the left by a house called Fairwood House, with Beech Wood to your right. Ascend through Ham Wood on a wide, clear track, with open countryside to your right. Fork right away from the wood, still on a wide track, and soon cross an intermediate track.

Continue between fence and hedge to a double field gate with a bridle gate beside it. Pass through the gate. On the other side there is a path which forks left downhill to the river. Ignore this and instead go half right uphill on the obvious track and along the edge of the field above the valley. Keep to the left of a fenced plantation and go gently downhill to another double field gate (one side of which is usually left open) and bridle gate, where the track becomes wide and stony. Continue ahead steadily uphill, then down again across another track. Go ahead down the narrower, grassy track, to arrive at yet another crossing of tracks near a house. Go straight on and follow the path across three bridges over the Avon (this is Ham Hatches), then down the side of the children’s play area in Bonnymead Park. Leave the park on Recreation Road, and walk down to a bend on a minor road. Continue ahead over yet another bridge over the Avon, Queensbury Bridge, and down Church Street in Amesbury. Pass the church, which is set well back from the road, on the left. Continue across Salisbury Street, which goes off to the right, and along the High Street to the A345, where this section ends. Amesbury’s Central Car Park is a few metres to the right.

Amesbury to Figheldean

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

Parking is available, at a price, in Amesbury’s Central Car Park, which is off the A345 (Salisbury Road). Alternatively you can park for free in Bonnymead Park, which is on the PAT route from Great Durnford.

At the cross roads with traffic lights and a petrol station on the A345, turn left out of the High Street down the A345. You now have two choices: the easiest, quietest, and most straightforward route is to turn right into Lord’s Walk at the first entrance you come to, then proceed ahead on the wide grass strip between trees to the gate at the end. Seats are provided but the trees obstruct distant views. A more interesting alternative is to follow the river, but this is noisier due to its closer proximity to the A303. To take this route, go through the second entrance to Lord’s Walk. Follow the river to the A303 river bridge, then turn right up steps on a purpose-built path through the trees. Bear left past an electricity sub-station at the top to arrive at the gate mentioned in the first option.

Turn left down Ratfyn Road for 200m, then turn left down a tarmac path. This crosses over the A303, then bends to the right, parallel to the A303, through a tunnel of trees to arrive at a tarmac road. Turn left and follow the road round to the right, going gently uphill. At the crossroads by another electricity sub-station, with wires radiating in various directions, turn right onto a gravel track. As you walk along this, over to the right you can see wireless masts and various Ministry of Defence buildings around Bulford and Boscombe Down. After passing a pylon (on the left) the track starts to go downhill. As it bends left, fork right onto a narrow bridleway, still going downhill, to emerge beside the entrance to the Watergate Farm coarse fishing lake.

Bear right along the concrete track. When this arrives at a tarmac road, turn left for 50m, then cross a stile on your right just before the entrance to the Dovecote (a property). Follow the path along the edge of the field, then turn left over a footbridge. Continue ahead across the grass to arrive at the A3028 in Bulford.

Cross it carefully and go down the narrow tarmac track opposite, with Bulford church on your left. When the tarmac peters out, continue along the edge of the field to a kissing gate. Go through this and follow the path through two more kissing gates into a wood. The path meanders back and forth, getting ever nearer to the river. Emerge onto a road and turn left past some cottages. Soon after this, the road ends; turn left on another path, follow this round to the right and cross the Avon. Soon after this, cross it again by turning right over another footbridge with a road just beyond. Turn left. When the road bends right after 200m you will find Milston church on your left. Continue on this minor road, which again turns sharp right after a while. Some 50m before arriving at a T junction with another road, at The Croft, turn left down a narrow fence-lined path by a post box.

Continue ahead across a grassy field and down a low bank to cross a military road. Go straight on through another grassy field to arrive at a gravel track. Go right for a few paces to find the ongoing path, which goes through a wooded area to cross the access road to Syrencot House. Keep going on a wide rutted track, which can often be muddy and overgrown, to reach a stile on the other side of a farm track. [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 left down the farm track to the road, then turn right for 20m to the kissing gate* below]. To continue on the standard route, cross the stile and continue ahead to another stile which has been extensively chewed by horses! Follow the wall on the other side to a kissing gate* onto a road, with Ablington Farm to your right.

Continue on the path a few paces to the right, beside a wall, to emerge beside a post box and parish council notice board. Maintain direction across the field beyond, keeping the fence on your left, and pass through a gap at the end of the field to arrive at Figheldean (pronounced Filedean!) village hall, where this stage ends.

Figheldean to Enford

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

Take the footpath opposite Figheldean village hall. This passes houses to the left and allotments to the right. At the crossing of tracks, follow the path round to the right, and shortly afterwards bear left down to the road through trees. Come out opposite the church. Turn right along the road, and at a junction with another road 200m later, bear left. After 175m, go through a gap on your left next to a redundant kissing gate into a field. Follow the path past a small copse on the left, then a sewage works on the right, going through two kissing gates in the process, to arrive at a third kissing gate by the entrance to Choulston Farm.

Turn left down the road for 50m, then take the footpath on your right (before reaching the river). This goes through woods then past a small lake, on the left, to be joined by another path coming in downhill from the right. Soon after this, turn sharp right, then left after a short distance, along a narrow, fence-lined footpath. This comes out at a road in Haxton, opposite the Old Post House Cottage. Turn left here and follow the road round to the left (signed Netheravon) to cross the river on Haxton bridge. There is a junction very soon after this; if you are in need of sustenance, continue ahead for 50m, where there is a McColl’s shop. Otherwise, turn right. This is Mill Road, in Netheravon.

About 75m after passing the Stonehenge Ales brewery on your right, fork right off the road onto a track. Follow this as it broadens out across fields and goes through three metal kissing gates. After the third one, take the left-hand of two paths towards two barns in an L shape to arrive at a tank track. Cross straight over this and down the path opposite to come out on a bend in a road. This is Fifield. Go right (effectively straight on), then follow the road round to the right. Soon after this, fork left onto an enclosed path. This crosses the river again on an old metal bridge, then passes a sewage pumping station (on the right). Don’t miss the blue plaque on the wall on your left after here, placed there in memory of two policemen who lost their lives on this spot in 1913. Arrive at another road, in Coombe, opposite a turning to Coombe Lane. Turn left along the road through the village. Follow this through Longstreet, then Enford, passing under the gantry outside the Swan Inn. At the junction, turn left, signed Amesbury and Pewsey, to arrive at the church car park on your right after 50m.

Enford to Upavon

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

From Enford church, walk up to the main road (A345). Cross with care and walk up the steps inside the small wood opposite (which may well be hidden by a parked vehicle) to a kissing gate at the top. Cross the field beyond, going to the left of a wooden pylon, to go through another kissing gate onto a bend in a lane. Go immediately right on a rutted bridleway, which goes downhill to pass an electricity sub-station. Continue ahead past a barn to a kissing gate in the fence on your right. Turn left after this to go through a wide gap to the right of a redundant kissing gate. Proceed downhill on a wide, grass path between low banks, parallel to the A345, with the Avon beyond. Bear left behind a white thatched cottage and follow the fence on your right to a kissing gate.

Cross the small field on the other side, passing to the right of a pond, to arrive at another kissing gate which the landowner has thoughtfully installed to cut out the dogleg required to follow the right of way; this would take the walker to the far end of the field to cross a stile and return on the road. Take the road beyond the kissing gate, which bends right through the yard of Compton Farm. Ignore the tarmac road and a track, both off to the right, and take the byway in front of you uphill. This can get very overgrown in the summer. At the top, continue ahead on a narrow tarmac road to the large barns of West Chisenbury farm.

Turn left here onto another byway, which arrives at a T junction of byways after 1,200m. The route to the left here is out of bounds, as indicated by a red rectangular sign, so turn right onto a 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 left). After about 800m, arrive at the vedette at Casterley Camp by an open parking area. Turn right here and walk for some 800m back down to the A345; the road goes steadily downhill after passing a pair of tall masts above a reservoir.

Cross the road with care onto the grass verge, where there is a seat and wooden carving that commemorates the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Cross the road into Upavon at the island and walk down the pavement on the other side past the Antelope Inn into the centre of the village.

Upavon to Overton Hill/A4

Distance: 10.9 miles (17.4 km) Maps: OS Explorer 130, OS Landranger 184

Take the A342 towards Everleigh from Upavon village centre, cross the river and turn left into Vicarage Lane. Soon after the houses end, this becomes a gravel track, then a grassy path. On reaching a Y-shaped intersection, fork left, and after about 550m arrive at the A345. Turn left along the path on the verge, cross the river and arrive at a roundabout in front of the Woodbridge Inn. Cross the A345 and take the road past the side of the inn. After 625m, take the quiet lane to the right opposite Falkner’s Farm, signposted to St James’ church in North Newnton. You join the White Horse Trail (WHT) here.

Pass to the right of the church and take the footbridge across the stream. Follow the path on the other side, with the stream to your left. About 20m after it joins a stony track, with Manningford Trout Fishery to your right, take the concrete bridge across another stream and turn left. Veer right along an enclosed path, which kinks right then left and brings you out onto a road. To the left is a pair of imposing pillars between metal railings. Go right down the road for a few metres, then left down a tarmac drive to the Manningford Business Units. Cross the grass in front of two large brick barns and take the short, narrow fenced path leading off the grass once past the barns, which brings you out into a road (Wick Lane). The property on your left is Pheasant Cottage.

Cross the stile a few paces to the left on the other side and leave the White Horse Trail for a brief diversion to see the Manningford Bruce church. Follow the right-hand fence past a corner to cross a stile on your right. Go left along this enclosed path to reach a minor road. Cross this to enter the churchyard, and follow the path to the left round to the back of the church. In the left-hand corner, turn left through a metal gate and along the wall round a large house. Pass through a kissing gate and walk along the right-hand side of the field beyond to a kissing gate on the right. You rejoin the WHT here. Pass through the narrow band of trees beyond via a sleeper bridge.

Bear half left in the field beyond another kissing gate, aiming for the left-hand corner of the field. Go through another kissing gate and down an enclosed path to a minor road, where The White House is on the left. Cross the road and take a boggy path through a small wood into the field ahead. You are now leaving Manningford Bruce and entering Manningford Abbots. Towards the top left end of the field, enter a small wood (which also gets extremely boggy) via a kissing gate and two sleeper bridges to arrive at another kissing gate into a field. You leave the PAT at this point, but continue on the WHT.

Turn half left towards a wooden field gate. Go through it and down a muddy path and across three footbridges in quick succession. Pass the Mill on your right, then a corrugated iron barn, to go through a wooden kissing gate into a small paddock. Go through another wooden kissing gate onto an enclosed footpath, with a thatched barn to left. Continue down the right-hand edge of the field beyond to arrive at the road through Manningford Bruce.

Turn left down this for some 60m, then turn right up Dragon Lane. The tarmac road turns into a stony track. Stay on this until it bends sharp left beside a large white house, where you continue in the same direction on a footpath with woodland to left and open farmland to right. Cross the Exeter to Paddington railway line with care, and continue in the same direction along the left-hand edge of a long field, which can get very muddy. Cross the stile at the end beside the memorial stone at Swanborough Tump (although access to the road can also gained by walking past the memorial).

The memorial 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.

Go down the long drive to Cocklebury Farm opposite the memorial. Go through the gate at the end to arrive at the Kennet & Avon canal at bridge 120 (Ladies Bridge). Cross the bridge and turn left onto the towpath going west. At bridge 122 (there is no bridge 121!), cross the canal and continue on the towpath on the other side. Shortly before arriving at bridge 123, you have the option of visiting a WWII memorial, indicated by a sign at a stile on your left 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, cross the stile and continue parallel to the canal for 50m or so, where you will find the memorial on your right just before bridge 123.

You can now either return to where you entered the field, turn left along the towpath and pass under bridge 123, or continue past the memorial to the rather awkward stile 50m or so further on, passing bridge 123 en route, and return to the towpath there.

At bridge 124 turn sharp left after going underneath it to arrive at the Lockeridge to Woodford road. Turn left (north) over the bridge. Approx. 130m from the bridge, you pass another memorial, that to RAF Alton Barnes. A few metres to the left of the road is a sign on a blue background marked “R.A.F. Alton Barnes Memorial” indicating a kissing gate 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 left along it until reaching a turning to the right signposted “St Mary Saxon Church”. (Some 20m before reaching this, the Devizes to Alton Barnes WHT comes in from a field on the left). Go down this. On arriving at an old-fashioned wooden turnstile on the left, go through this and along the cobbled path through the field beyond. At a crossroads of cobbled paths, continue ahead. Cross two small footbridges with wooden turnstiles at both ends.  

Leave the cobbled path where it turns right to the entrance to Alton Priors’ All Saints church, and continue in the same direction to a fourth wooden turnstile. Go up the tarmac road beyond, past Priory Cottages on the right, and an old thatched barn on the left, to a T junction. Go up the tarmac road opposite but slightly to the left, signposted “No Public Right of Way for Vehicles, Bridleway Only”. This does indeed become a footpath, which can get very overgrown, between hedges after a few metres. Proceed steadily uphill to reach another tarmac road (from Alton Barnes to Lockeridge).

The original route required you to turn left and walk down this road for some 300m, however the route has been changed to minimise the distance walked on this road and to avoid a bend which obscures oncoming traffic. Go right up the road instead for some 75m, then cross over and go through a metal farm gate. Follow the wooden fencing on your left to arrive at a large, square, metal gate. Go through this (unfortunately it is quite heavy).  You are now in an open access area so can make your own way diagonally up the hillside on your right to join the obvious wide path up Walkers Hill (see below). Alternatively take any of the paths in front of you which are roughly parallel to the road, and just before arriving at a kissing gate, turn right onto the obvious wide path which leads relentlessly upwards towards Walkers Hill. This has the Neolithic long barrow known as Adam’s Grave at its summit. You can either walk up to Adams Grave, from which there are great views, then turn left to descend, or drift left onto the path which skirts Walkers Hill. Both routes will lead you to a multiple junction of paths.

Turn right here, briefly joining the Mid Wilts Way, beside, or on top of, a low earthwork, with the whale-like shape of Knap Hill now on your right. After around 150m, veer left towards a metal kissing gate, with the car parking area at Knap Hill in your line of sight. Follow the well-beaten path through two more metal kissing gates to arrive at a final metal gate onto the Lockeridge to Alton Barnes road. The car parking area is on the other side of the road. You leave the Mid Wilts Way here.

Do not go through the gate to cross the road, but instead turn half left and follow the path (a bridleway) along the fence beside Knap Cottages and up the right-hand side of two fields, ascending steadily to pass through the tree-shaded remains of the Wansdyke at the top. Stay on the byway as it gradually descends – from here the view north-west includes Silbury Hill – to join a tarmac road after approx. 1mile (1.6 km), some 300m before passing Manor Farm and arriving at the main road through the village of East Kennett.

Turn left here, and at a junction soon afterwards, turn right. Soon after, when the road bends sharp right, continue ahead on a byway. Cross the River Kennet, then kink left and right, staying on the byway as it climbs up to Overton Hill and the A4.