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Cowslips on the prehistoric White Barrow, Wiltshire
Cowslips on the prehistoric White Barrow, Wiltshire | © National Trust/Abby George

White Barrow trail

This challenging 10-mile circular trail takes you on a unique walk to the Neolithic Long Barrow and through the Salisbury Plain Training Area. Be prepared for tanks, gunfire (not live ammunition) and troops training, but you'll also discover an area rich in wildlife. In spring and summer you'll see abundant flora, including cowslips, orchids and fairy flax and the nectar-rich flowers attract butterflies too, from the common blue in May to the marbled white in summertime.

Total steps: 25

Total steps: 25

Start point

Lay-by on the Tilshead to Chitterne road. Nearest postcode: SP3 4SG. Grid ref: SU 02894 47847

Step 1

Park at the lay-by on the Tilshead to Chitterne road, on the opposite corner to the petrol station. With your back to the lay-by, cross the road and turn left, heading back into Tilshead village along the pavement, following the 'Imber Range Perimeter Path (IRPP)' sign.

Step 2

After about 50yd (46m) you will see a track on your right between two houses signposted as the IRPP/Restricted byway. Turn right down the track. At the first Y-junction, with a metal garage ahead of you, keep right.

Step 3

At the next Y-junction turn right following the IRPP/Restricted byway sign. Keep following the path between two fields at the back of the John Deere tractor dealership.

Step 4

When you come to the end of the path, at the T-junction, turn right onto a gravel track. Head uphill, following the IRPP/Restricted byway sign.

Step 5

At the top of the incline White Barrow will come into view on your left. Climb over the stile in the fence on your left to explore the mounds and earthworks. The stile to exit the enclosure is midway along the fence line on the right-hand side of the enclosure.

White Barrow in winter, frost on the ground, bare trees and deep blue sky
White Barrow | © National Trust / Keith Steggall

Step 6

Climb over the stile then turn right, walk to the end of the enclosure and then turn left to return to the main track you were just on.

Step 7

At the next turning, which looks like a Y-junction, leave the main track and turn right onto a minor track, following the IRPP/Restricted byway sign. Continue along this track, continuing straight on across four crossroads, still following the IRPP/Restricted byway sign.

Step 8

At the T-junction at the end of the track turn right on to a major gravel road, following the byway sign. You will see the Copehill Down German Village come into view ahead of you.

Step 9

At the T-junction in front of the village, turn right and follow the byway sign.

Step 10

After about 110yd (100m), turn left onto a track between two stands of trees, following the byway sign. At the three-pronged fork keep right and head for the giant clump of trees ahead, which is planted like a circle divided into quarters. Copehill Down German Village is now on your left. Carry straight on, go over two sets of crossroads and follow the byway sign towards the clump of trees ahead. At the crossroads in front of the trees, carry straight on into the centre of the circle. It can be very muddy and boggy here so you may need to create your own detour.

Step 11

When you come to the major crossroads in the centre of the circle carry straight on along the main track, ignoring the byways to the left and right. Carry on downhill across a crossroads, following the byway signs. At the pale green barn follow the track as it bears round to the right and then the left. At the junction with another track keep right, past the cottage on your right, until you reach the road.

Step 12

Carry straight on onto the road. Follow the road as it bends sharply around to the left. Beware of traffic as you will now be walking along this relatively quiet road for around a mile. Eventually you will start walking through Chitterne village itself.

Step 13

Just before the large flint building on your left, after the small red-and-white windmill on your right, turn right, following the 'Imber Range' path sign. Carry straight on into a working farmyard area.

Step 14

Just before the last barn on the left, turn left through a small metal gate next to a much larger one, following the public footpath sign (on the telegraph pole on the opposite side of the track). Go over the stile, following the footpath arrow and the well-worn path diagonally left through the field.

Step 15

When you come to the gate/gap into the next field on your left go through it, following the footpath arrow, and follow the well-worn path around the field (you can also head diagonally right to cut across through the long grass, keeping the trees on your right). You will reach a short track to a churchyard in the far corner to the right of the houses ahead of you. Climb over the blue pipe and go through the double gates into the churchyard.

Step 16

Go around to the opposite side of the chapel and through the gate on your left, following the track down to the road.

Step 17

Turn left onto the road and just ahead you will see the Kings Head pub on your left (restricted opening hours). Carry on past the pub and continue over the ridge and round the bend on the left. At the road junction signposted to Tilshead, follow the pavement as it bears round to the left.

Step 18

Just after the junction cross the road to turn right onto Back Lane, signposted as 'Imber Range Path', just next to the building with the post box in it. Follow the lane as it bends round to the left.

Step 19

At the top of the rise turn right at the waymark post with a dog bin attached to it and follow the Imber Range Path uphill. Go past the barn on your right and emerge onto a lane. Cross straight over the lane, following the 'Imber Range Path/Bridleway' sign. Carry straight on past the 'Warning: Troops Training' sign, go through the gap in the trees ahead and continue straight on.

Step 20

At the crossroads carry straight on along the indistinct track ahead alongside the fence, following the 'Imber Range Path/Bridleway' sign. Carry straight on through one crossroads then, at the major crossroads with the byway, climb up the bank ahead to carry straight on along the main track following the Imber Range Path sign. The Copehill Down German Village buildings should now be on your left. It is possible you may face hold-ups or be asked to move on quickly if there are any manoeuvres taking place. Go straight through a major crossroads, staying on the main track, following the Imber Range Path sign. At the trees on the top of the incline, continue straight on and follow the track as it curves around to the left.

Step 21

At the next major junction (which was labelled Step 8 on the map on the way out), keep going straight on to follow the track you are on, signposted as a permissive byway.

Step 22

At the major junction of six or seven trackways carry straight on through the white-topped posts until you are in front of the stands of trees. Turn left and then immediately right onto the track signposted as a byway. The trees should now be on your right and you should be walking along the edge of a wood. Keep going along this track and you will pass White Barrow again, this time on your right. Keep going downhill.

Step 23

Go straight through the crossroads and a bit further on you will see a waymark post on the left. Turn left here to follow the Imber Range Path/Bridleway sign. Ignore the first turning to your right and continue straight towards the barn ahead, ignoring the turning to the left too.

Step 24

Just past the rusty barn the path forks. If you want to return straight to your vehicle take the left-hand fork. If you want to explore the village and make a final stop at the pub, take the right-hand fork and follow the path through the shaded tree tunnel until you reach a gravel track. Turn left onto the track and walk down to the main road.

Step 25

Turn left onto the main road, cross over when the pavement ends and you will find the Rose and Crown pub. Continue along the pavement through the village. Your vehicle will come into view just past the petrol station. It may be safer to cross the main road before the bend and then cross over to the lay-by on the right-hand side when you are on the Chitterne road.

End point

Lay-by on the Tilshead to Chitterne road. Nearest postcode: SP3 4SG. Grid ref: SU 02894 47847

Trail map

Map for White Barrow trail, White Barrow, Wiltshire
Map for White Barrow trail, Wiltshire | © Crown copyright and database rights 2013 Ordnance Survey

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