White Horse Hill – Wayland’s Smithy walk

White Horse Hill – Wayland’s Smithy walk

Date of Adventure: 10 Dec, 2023

We are big fans of White Horse Hill and you may have seen another post from a previous visit there. Every time somebody reads it we get a flurry of messages urging us to tag on a walk to nearby Wayland’s Smithy, a neolithic burial site, which is accessed via the Ridgeway. It’s not far at all, about 1.5 miles each way, and is very do-able for young walkers. So we did it – and we loved it!

Here’s the deal: Save the run around up and around White Horse Hill for the end as this is a good motivator when legs may be getting tired and head straight from the White Horse Hill car park and then right, following the mown path and signs to Wayland’s Smithy. There’s a bit on on-road walking but it’s a quiet lane and no cars passed us at all. After a few hundred metres the Ridgeway will cut across you and you will see clearly marked signs to the right to Wayland’s Smithy. It’s about a mile on this stretch and you’ll be treated to some wonderful countryside views – we walked in the late afternoon and the low sun was beautiful. There’s a bit of a gradient but nothing that will leave you out of breath.

Wayland’s Smith itself is interesting, I was surprised at how much my three boys were fascinated with it! The English Heritage website explains that it’s a neolithic chambered long barrow once believed to have been the home of Wayland, the Saxon god of metal working. Human remains found on the site indicate that 14 people were buried in an earlier burial structure between 3590 and 3550 BC. Between 3460 and 3400 BC a second far larger barrow was constructed on top. It is the ruins of this that can be explored by visitors to the site today. My two eldest were off making scary videos about the site whilst I myself was worried that we would be there when the sun went down and people would start coming out of the site and grabbing us!

We headed back and climbed White Horse Hill just as it started to get dark – I cannot tell you how blustery it is up there!! The boys were in their element howling into the wind!

A great and easy walk for the whole family, some (like me!) may appreciate the walk more than the destination, whist others will be taken with the history of the place. Visit on a windy day for maximum excitement!

 

 

AT A GLANCE

Free
Always open
No booking required
No cafe
Not accessible due to terrain and gradient
40 minutes from Headington roundabout
No direct bus from Oxford, connecting routes via Wantage
National Trust car park: £2 for 2 hours £4 for 24 hours NT; members park for free
The details

Website

National Trust White Horse Hill car park, SN7 7QJ.

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This year is the 50th anniversary of The Ridgeway! Since it was officially opened as a National Trail in 1973, the Trail has had hundreds of thousands visitors. Why not visit and take part in some of the free events to celebrate?

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