Wiltshire Tourist Guide

Salisbury Circular Country Walk - Wiltshire

This Salisbury circular country walk starts from Old Sarum and takes in Woodford Valley and the edge of Salisbury Plain.

You can park your car at either the Beehive Park and Ride car park and walk a short distance to the start at Old Sarum Castle or park in Old Sarum site car park itself. Both car parks are closed and barriered overnight so be sure to check the closing times before you leave your vehicle.

The starting point is at Old Sarum which is an interesting place in itself and well worth visiting so have a good look around.

The original site was an Iron Age hillfort circa 500 BC, later occupied by the Romans, the Saxons and, most importantly, the Normans. During the Norman occupation a stone castle was built within the Saxon motte and bailey and a cathedral and town in the area within the ramparts. Following disputes with the military and the cathedral being damaged by lightning the clergy moved south where they settled on the banks of the River Avon near the water meadows and started building the new cathedral in 1220 around which the city of Salisbury developed.

The earth ramparts which encircle the English Heritage site of Old Sarum Castle offer magnificent panorama views in all directions and also overlook the historic airfield of Old Sarum, the oldest operational airfield in the UK, where light aircraft can be viewed taking off and landing.

Leave through the main entrance to the site and take the footpath to the right on the tarmac corner from where the cars exit Old Sarum Castle car park.

A few hundred yards and just before rejoining the main Salisbury to Marlborough A345 turn right down the signed footpath to the village of Stratford sub Castle. Just before reaching the village at the bottom and close to the road take the footpath to your right across a series of stiles leading behind the village church.

Cross the stile back on to the road again close to a road bridge across the river. It is possible to walk off the road from this point but is often very wet and a much more comfortable and easy option is to continue north with the river Avon on your left along Beeches Way.

You will soon pass an impressive historic house on your right overlooking the river. The traffic is usually very light and sporadic and not at all intrusive, in fact it forms part of a cycleway, and makes a most pleasant walk.

About a mile further on you come to a bend in the road with a metalled lane up to the right with a postbox on the corner. Opposite on the left hand side is a wall with a white door set into it. It is well worth taking a detour through the public right of way on your left behind the door is accessed by pressing the button and entering the door which swings open and reveals a secret world.

Little Durnford Farm is set in privately owned parkland through which the Avon flows where you will encounter the exotic sight of Bactrian (two humps from eastern Asia and Gobi desert) camels and alpacas roaming around the enclosure. Do not feed the animals. The public right of way continues through the parkland and up on to the road which runs north along west side of the river Avon. We don’t recommend walking that route as although there are paths some of the route is on the road which is often very busy and dangerous in places for pedestrians. We suggest you return the way you came back through the ‘hole in the wall’ to rejoin this Salisbury Circular country Walk on Beeches Walk.

Cross the road and head up the quiet metalled private lane for a further 20 minutes where you pass a lush valley on your right to Keepers Cottage, a beautiful thatched cottage, which sits at the crossroads. When we passed there were two charming friendly Dalmatian dogs roaming around the garden.

At this crossroads turn right to and follow the easy path and cycleway across the bleak extreme southern edge of Salisbury Plain up and over the hill and back in a straight line (a Roman road of course) to Old Sarum Castle visible in the distance.

With pleasant detours this Salisbury circular country walk is a distance of little over six miles of easy walking and even if you dawdle as we did shouldn’t take more than three hours. Please bear in mind that the Keepers Cottage lane is not a right of way.

Alternatively instead of turning up Keepers Cottage lane you can continue along Beech Way to Salterton Farm where you turn right on the public right of way through the yard to join the same trail past Keepers Cottage.This will add a couple of miles to your walk but again not particularly strenuous walking.

Salisbury Circular Country Walk