Windmill Hill (The long way round)

Walking trail

Ranger's highlight: "Windmill Hill is a fantastic place with amazing views of the surrounding countryside and down to Avebury itself. Skylarks sing in the spring and summer and you might even spot a hare or two if you are lucky."

Along the way

Some of Britain's first farmers came to Windmill Hill around 5,600 years ago and enclosed an area of some 21 acres using three circuit ditches. Stone tools and bones found during excavations here are displayed in the Alexander Keiller Museum, Avebury, which National Trust and English Heritage members can visit for free. You will also see the 4,400 year old Silbury Hill on this walk, the largest artificial prehistoric mound in Europe. Its purpose remains a mystery as no remains were found during excavations here. You are also likely to see the spectacular bird of prey, the Red Kite, with its distinctive forked tail, riding the thermals on a warm day.

Windmill Hill

Map

Windmill Hill (the long way round)

Start:

Avebury National Trust car park

1

Park at the main Avebury National Trust visitors' car park (free to National Trust members, otherwise you will need to pay and display). Leave the car park via the diagonally opposite corner to the one you drove in through and follow the path to the High Street.

2

Turn left along the High Street, then turn right down the side of the yellow cottage and follow the track as it bends round to the left. Continue over one footbridge with white handrails and then over a second longer one. At the end of the second footbridge turn right following the 'Cycle Route 403' sign. Walk down this path for a very short way and you will see a stile on the right signposted 'Windmill Hill 1 ¼ miles', 'Public Footpath' and 'White Horse Trail'. Climb over the stile into the field and follow the grassy path ahead. A bit further on you will get a great view of Avebury Manor on the right.

3

When you get to a bridge on your right with stiles at both ends, cross over. At the end of the bridge, turn left across the field following the footpath sign and grassy path towards the next stile visible as a gap with a white sign ahead. The grassy paths might not be very obvious depending on the time of year. Climb over the stile, into the next field and continue following the grassy path straight ahead to the next set of two stiles with a small gap in between them. Climb over into the next field and continue straight on the grassy path which eventually bends round to the left. When you reach the stile, climb over and walk down the short track through the narrow strip of woodland and over a stream (which might be dry). Climb over two more stiles close together and into the next field following the grassy path straight ahead of you.

4

Climb over the stile at the end of the path and onto a hardcore track. Turn left following the 'Windmill Hill 1 mile' and bridleway signs. Continue straight up the hill along the field boundary with the hedge on your right. Go through the rusty gate halfway up the hill and carry on to the top.

5

When you reach the entrance gate to Windmill Hill you will see a small information panel on your right. The site is grazed by sheep for much of the year so please keep all dogs on leads. Windmill Hill is a classic example of a Neolithic 'causewayed enclosure', with three concentric but intermittent ditches. It is part of the Avebury World Heritage Site and famous for being one of the first sites excavated to provide evidence of the life of early farming communities in southern Britain. From investigations, it seems that the Windmill Hill enclosure was built around 5,600 years ago and continued to be visited for several hundred years. Go through the gate and climb to the top of the mound in front of you. From here you will have fabulous views of the countryside for miles around. If you are lucky you might see hares racing around. From here head for the taller of the two large mounds you can see in front of you (the one on the left) following the grassy path. The mounds, known as 'round barrows', cover burials dating from the Bronze Age, around 4,000 years ago. You will see a patch of woodland in front of you - head for the large tree at the right hand corner of the wood, following the grassy path. These woods are home to a large rookery, you can't miss the distinctive calls from the hundreds of birds as you pass. As you start to walk downhill, keeping the woods on your left, you should see a gate at the bottom of the slope. Head through the gate onto the track.

6

Continue straight over the track and through the gate opposite onto a narrow overgrown path with hedges on either side. Continue along this path, going straight on through a crossroads, until you reach the end of the grassy path and it joins a hardcore track. Turn right onto this track (which is basically straight on as you join it) and, when the track bends round 90 degrees to the right, leave the hardcore track and carry straight on, onto a gravel track, following the public bridleway sign.

7

Eventually you will reach a fingerpost sign where the bridleway turns off to the right. Do not turn here but carry straight on along the path which is now signposted as a public footpath. The path then bears around to the left between two fields.

8

Eventually you will come to a stile on your right and with a public footpath fingerpost sign. Climb over the stile, along the short bridge and turn left onto a wide grassy ridge. This path is designed and managed especially to attract butterflies. Continue along the path until you spot a bench on your right and the gated entrance to a wildlife pond on your left. Unfortunately, the path doesn't go all the way round the pond, but it is a great place to spot damselflies and dragonflies.

9

Continue on along the main path until you reach a T-junction with a trackway; turn left and head towards Yatesbury Village. The trackway eventually joins a tarmac road, called Back Lane; turn right onto the road and continue straight on. At the T-junction with Avenue Road turn left. The road here has no pavement, so please take care.

10

Continue along the road for about 50 yards before turning right down a track signposted as a byway. When the hedges thin out on the left you should be able to make out two Bronze Age barrows. On the right, as you reach the bottom of the slope, you will find a large corrugated building which looks like a farm building, but is in fact a Second World War gymnasium, part of what used to be RAF Yatesbury. There is still a small airfield nearby today. When you reach a large clump of trees with an archway in the middle that the byway passes through, continue straight on, over the crossroads with the White Horse Trail and follow the byway towards Avebury Trusloe village.

11

You will eventually reach a large barn complex on the right hand side, turn right here passing between the two sets of large barns, following the byway sign. Continue straight across the concrete hardstanding onto the grassy but rutted byway as it leaves the farm. Just a bit further along this track the standing stones known as Adam and Eve, or the Longstones, should come into view in front of you. The Longstones are what remains of the Beckhampton Avenue which once linked to Avebury stone circle. Eve is the only remaining stone from this avenue whilst Adam (the largest stone) was part of a stone setting at the end of the avenue. Continue to the track past the stones as it bears round to the left.

12

When you reach the T-junction with the Wessex Ridgeway turn left to continue the walk, however, a short detour will take you to visit the Longstones Long Barrow (go to the wooden rails in front of you and pass through the gap on the left hand side of them before turning right to visit the long barrows, return to the T-junction to continue the walk). Long barrows are Neolithic burial mounds of similar age to the Windmill Hill causewayed enclosure. A short distance along the Wessex Ridgeway path is the entrance into the Longstones field which has a large interpretation panel with information about the stones and the surrounding landscape. Continue along the Wessex Ridgeway, ignoring the bridleway sign pointing right and straight on towards the houses of Avebury Trusloe in the distance. Windmill Hill, where you were earlier in the walk, is on your left hand side.

13

Just past the cream coloured house and public footpath sign on the right, there is an unsigned public footpath on the left with a yellow salt/grit box in front of it. Turn left here and continue straight on past the play area until you reach the road. Cross the road with care and head towards the fingerpost sign on the opposite side of the road. Turn right following the footpath sign; do not go down the driveway to Manor Farm. Pass through the gate at the end of the field, onto a tarmac footpath, the path then bends round to the left and then to the right before crossing a footbridge with white railings. On your right is a view of Silbury Hill, a 4,400 year old monument. Carry on along the path, over a second footbridge.

14

When the path bends round to the right, continue straight on down the side of a white house, towards the old fashioned lamp post ahead. You will emerge in Avebury Village churchyard - from here you can turn left to visit the church, Avebury Manor, the Alexander Keiller Museum and the National Trust café or carry straight on to visit the stone circle, village shops and the Red Lion pub. If you wish to return straight to your car, turn right and ahead back down the High Street; turn left and the main footpath to the car park is a bit further on your right.

End:

Avebury National Trust car park

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Windmill Hill (The long way round)

Terrain

This walk follows hard tracks, very muddy footpaths and country lanes as well as public footpaths and bridleways across farmland fields with stiles.This route also crosses a minor road and takes you along minor roads without pavements, so please take care.

Windmill Hill (The long way round)

Contact us

Call 01672 539250 or visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/avebury.

If you would like this information in alternative formats, please call us on 01672 539250 or email avebury@nationaltrust.org.uk

Windmill Hill (The long way round)

How to get here

Address
National Trust car park, Avebury. Grid reference: SU 09960 69656
By train

Pewsey; Swindon

By road

6 miles west of Marlborough on the A4361. Our main car park is a short walk from the stone circle and our facilities in the Old Farmyard

Parking: pay and display. National Trust and English Heritage members free. Overnight parking prohibited. Please respect the community and do not park on the village streets

SatNav: Sat Nav users please use the postcode SN8 1RD to find our main visitor car park.

By foot

Ridgeway National Trail

By bus

Frequent buses pass nearby, more information can be found at www.connectingwiltshire.co.uk/plan-a-journey/tourism/travelling-to-avebury There is a £1 discount on entry for those who have travelled by bus to Avebury (please show a valid ticket or a bus pass when buying tickets).

By bicycle

NCN4 and 45

Windmill Hill (The long way round)

Facilities and access

  • Pay & display parking, 500 yards from stone circle (off A4361). National Trust and English Heritage members park free. Note: parking during the Summer Solstice in late June may be limited. Arrive early to avoid crowds in busy times.
  • Overnight parking prohibited.
  • Enjoy local, seasonal food at Circles Café in the Old Farmyard and the Coach House Cafe on the High Street.
  • Toilets are open 9.30-18.00 daily. Baby-changing facilities available.
  • Picnic Area in the Old Farmyard.
  • Buy a memento of your visit at the shop, including a range of locally sourced giftware.
  • Dogs on leads are welcome across the site apart from the National Trust cafe and Avebury Manor and Garden.
  • Information trailer in car park, information panels and leaflets.
  • As part of erosion control, some parts of the henge and stone circle may be temporarily fenced off.
  • Accessibility;
  • Separate parking, 200 yards. Drop-off point
  • Museum galleries and manor are accessible with ramped entrances
  • Accessible toilets located behind Barn Gallery
  • Only parts of the stone circle are accessible due to slopes. Some cobbles and undulating terrain in the old farmyard