Running in Avebury
This Avebury running route was featured in Trail Running magazine’s April/May 2013 edition, so better late than never I finally got around to running it!
Avebury is a village in Wiltshire and home to a ‘Neolithic henge monument’, which includes three stone circles, and, in my opinion, much more impressive and enjoyable to visit than the more famous Stonehenge.
Avebury is also home to the end of the Ridgeway, an 87 mile-long ancient track which runs diagonally north through the Chiltern Hills to Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire. This was my first visit to Avebury and first run along part of the Ridgeway, and I can’t wait to explore more on future runs.
We started our loop from the car park next to Silbury Hill. Silbury Hill is a prehistoric artificial chalk mound (nobody is certain what its purpose is). Parking here is limited, but free, and we ended up there mainly because the main Avebury car park was full. This suited us as it added a couple of kilometres to our overall loop. The total elevation gain according to my Garmin was 335m so not too bad over that distance, and definitely much less challenging than the section of the Cotswold Way I ran the previous weekend, which had several very steep ascents.
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To get from Silbury Hill to Avebury, you follow a footpath for around 1.5 km until you reach the main car park, and run through the car park to come out the other side in the centre of the village. There are some toilets and a pub there, which are useful before you start the run. To get on to the Ridgeway, follow the road to the right of the main road through the high street. This starts off as tarmac while you’re still within the stone circle, and then becomes more of a track and ascends towards the Ridgeway.
Avebury Running Route
The loop we took ran clockwise, north towards Barbury Castle, an iron age hill fort. There is a car park and more toilets on the other side of the fort (for drivers visiting). I then became slightly confused about exactly which way were were going so here are some directions in case you fancy doing this loop and not getting lost!
- Follow the track past a farm, and stay right (the Ridgeway forks left)
- Head along the track for several km until you reach a junction with a country lane and a grassy triangle (the village of Rockley)
- Go straight ahead on the lane for a few metres until you see a bridleway turning to the right
- Follow the bridleway uphill and eventually it opens out onto what looks like a racehorse track!
- Turn right on the grass and follow the path in a straight line
- This eventually takes you towards the Fyfield Down National Nature Reserve
The nature reserve is beautiful. When we visited it was full of sheep (and lambs!) and is strewn with large boulders. When you come out the other side of the nature reserve, it intersects with the Ridgeway, and it is tempting to think you need to turn left to get back to Avebury, but actually just cross over the Ridgeway and head straight downhill on the footpath to get back to Avebury. This is actually the way you would have come at the start of the loop, but it looked very different to me when coming from a different direction!
The loop from Avebury is c.22km, I clocked 25km including the distance to/from the car. I was so pleased to finish my longest EVER run feeling great! No injuries, legs felt strong, and the Chia Charge and High 5 Zero drink kept me energised on the loop. This bodes well for June’s Cheddar Gorge Half Marathon!