An ancient complex of tracks runs along the steep northern scarps of the broad band of chalk down-land underlying the Chiltern Hills and the North Wessex and Dorset Downs. This ancient trade route may date back to the Neolithic period when the Stonehenge and Avebury monuments were built at the centre of a flourishing civilisation in Wessex, and link these settlements to harbours on the Norfolk and Dorset coasts, and to resources such as the Grimes Graves flint mines near Thetford.
The 87-mile central portion of this route, between the Ivinghoe Beacon hill-fort near Tring and Avebury in Wiltshire, was designated in 1972 as the Ridgeway National Trail.
But the rest of the 400-mile route, incorporating the Icknield Way path to the north, and the Wessex Ridgeway in Dorset, is less well defined.
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The Friends of The Ridgeway is a registered charity (No 1107926). We rely on the support of our members and from donations. We are committed to preserving the spirit of the Ridgeway.
We are always looking for new members to join us to help preserve the spirit of The Ridgeway. Our annual membership rates and further information on joining can be found by clicking on the button below. You will receive regular e-Newsletters with campaign updates, articles of general interest about The Ridgeway and news on recent publications.
The Friends of the Ridgeway
The Friends of The Ridgeway is a registered charity (No 1107926). We are a voluntary organisation set up in 1982 to preserve and maintain the special nature of The Ridgeway, mainly in response to the abuse of the Ridgeway National Trail south of the Thames by off-road vehicles.
Today, after a successful campaign resulted in the restriction of motor vehicle access to major sections of the Trail, the Association’s objective is to work for the preservation of all of the ancient Ridgeway tracks, by promoting public awareness and enjoyment of this unique and important part of our heritage.
We continue to campaign for the protection of The Ridgeway, working with the Ridgeway Partnership and others to promote its value to the whole community as an essential part of everyone’s life and heritage; and to represent any concerns about the Ridgeway to those responsible for its maintenance. This is the primary objective of the Friends of the Ridgeway; it always has been, it is presently and will continue to be in the future. We are committed to preserving the spirit of the Ridgeway.
The Ridgeway is more than a walking trail – it is a historic monument, an artistic inspiration, a natural environment and more. We seek to engage people living near to and using The Ridgeway in activities that spread knowledge and appreciation of its wealth of historic, artistic and environmental features.
One of our objectives is to work with other Associations and well-wishers to create a coast-to-coast path from Lyme Regis in Dorset to Hunstanton in north Norfolk. We have called this path the Great Chalk Way, as it faithfully follows the chalk ridge that spans the entire width of southern England. It is also thought to be England’s oldest path, having been used as a link between places of historic occupation for thousands of years – sometimes referred to as The Ancient Ridgeway. It links many sites of archaeological interest across the south east of England.
To bring The Ridgeway to life as an artistic inspiration, and to show The Ridgeway, its history and environs, in all their aspects throughout all seasons, we established the Swire Ridgeway Arts Prize, an annual arts competition and prize.
As a registered Charity the Friends have raised significant amounts of funding for projects including the Oxford Plant Sciences Department Project, and establishment of counters on the trail.
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On 25 May 2018 the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force. This new law replaced the old Data Protection Act and inevitably changes the way we must organise our affairs. To comply with this legislation, we need your explicit permission if we are to continue to contact you by email or other means. To avoid missing important news and exciting updates from the Friends of the Ridgeway, including Newsletters and notices of meetings, we need you to complete the form by clicking on the button below. If you change your mind at any time just let us know.
Our Latest News
At the prizegiving on Sunday 25 April 2021, The Chair of Judges, Lucy Stopford announced the winners of the 2021 competition. The Judges had been impressed by the number, variety and quality of the entries and found it difficult to pick winners. The overall winner is...
The Swire Ridgeway Arts Prize 2021 exhibition can now be viewed on this website
Annual Report for 2020