Amesbury, just off the A303 and within a Druid’s incantation of Stonehenge, is easy to overlook as a walking destination. The area is busy with tourists, but to the south of the town is Woodford Valley, criss-crossed by the River Avon and quiet bridleways, with some unexpectedly tranquil, beautiful walking country.
Start at the Amesbury Recreation Ground carpark, heading south-south-west to cross a footbridge over the River Avon. Look for a track signed “Durnford”, pass to the right of cottages and turn right along the edge of a field. The bucolic idyll begins here, as you bear left in the field’s corner to join a path through the valley beside a stream. You then cross another footbridge on your right and continue through marshy ground to re-cross the Avon. At the thatched cob wall of Normanton Down House turn left and then, after about 400m, turn right up the farm road towards Springbottom Farm.
The path here affords glimpses of Stonehenge and then, past the farm buildings, sweeps south-east to the downland valley area of Lake Bottom. The going is well-marked as you continue to the village of Great Durnford and its pretty mill. Footbridges again take you over the peaceful Avon.
When you reach a lane, turn left and walk through Great Durnford, passing the church and the pop singer Sting’s house, Great Durnford Manor. Turn left on to a waymarked bridle path beside a house and climb up to Ham Wood. As you leave the wood, bear right along a path to a gate. Amesbury, said to be where Queen Guinevere ended her days, is almost due north. To reach it, maintain your direction through pastureland before bearing right across a field towards a waymarker post. Ignore the signed public footpath and walk down the field edge to a gate, at which you can easily retrace your steps home.
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A valley walk in Guinevere’s realm
Amesbury, OS ref: SU149411
Length of walk
The Black Horse, Great Durnford