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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Our Latest News
Regrettably, given the present circumstances and Government recommendations with regard to the Coronavirus, we have concluded that the Friends Ridgeway Day including the Swire Ridgeway Arts Prize and associated exhibition on 18 and 19 April 2020 in Uffington plus the...
Following the letter from the Chairman, this Newsletter gives a report on administrative matters from the Secretary, a Treasurer’s Update, a letter from the Chairman of the Vale of the White Horse Local Group, update on the Swire Ridgeway Arts Prize 2020, some entries...
The Friends of the Ridgeway are delighted to announce that they will again be holding an annual arts competition and prize – the Swire Ridgeway Arts Prize. A Flyer for the exhibition is available at Exhibition Flyer and more details are shown in the Arts Prize section...