About the challenge
The magnificent prehistoric stone circles of Stonehenge and Avebury need little introduction. We start at the legendary icon of Stonehenge, the most famous stone circle in the world.
From here we cross into MOD land, walking through beautiful areas little-used by the general public and a haven for wildlife and plants. We cross spectacular chalk downs dotted with ancient earth-works, burial mounds and enigmatic white horses carved into the chalk. Our route takes in the highest point in Wiltshire (295m) and goes through the most active crop circle area in the world, so keep your eyes peeled! We then head towards the famous ancient landmark of Silbury Hill, before finishing at Avebury, where we can get up close to the ancient stones. This is a tough event over the high chalk downs and ridgeways of Wiltshire and Salisbury Plain. At 26 miles, it forms an enormous challenge for walkers. There will be full support throughout the challenge with marshals and water stops along the route.
Our challenging day starts very early at the World Heritage Site of Stonehenge! An early start is essential to complete the distance. We start our trek on a short section of quiet road, continuing south along good tracks with the Avon Valley to our west and the large expanse of the MOD training area to our east. We have permission to cross this land which is a great experience and quite unique. This region of Salisbury Plain is used very little by walkers and runners, and we can enjoy the flora and fauna that has been protected for decades from traffic and development. From there we head north and join the White Horse trail to the Pewsey White Horse, from where we have fabulous views of the surrounding chalk landscape.
Dropping down into the village of Alton Barnes, we follow the Kennet & Avon canal west on a welcome section of flat land dotted with farms and hedgerows. Heading north, it’s not long before we reach our half-way point close to the River Avon. Skirting a prehistoric long-barrow, we climb steeply up onto a ridge and follow this through beautiful country-side. We’ll get up close to one of the white horses that make this area of chalk downland famous, but in clear weather you are able to see more as views of other valleys open up to us. This area is also acknowledged by enthusiasts as the world centre of crop circle activity; looking out for them will take your mind off your leg muscles as we traverse the hills and ridges!
Our route takes us close to the mysterious landmark of Silbury Hill – the tallest man-made mound in Europe, it is a very impressive sight. Its purpose however is still unknown. We start to anticipate the finish line at Avebury, which lies at the centre of one of the greatest surviving concentrations of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in Western Europe. It is a unique landscape of stone circles, barrows and avenues. There is time to celebrate with your fellow walkers and runners before returning home.
Total distance: 26 miles / 42 km
• Experienced Discover Adventure leaders and support staff throughout to manage the event safely and enjoyably
• Light packed lunch
• Marshalling stops with water and snacks
• Coach transfers from Avebury – where you can park – to the start of the walk at Stonehenge.
• personal insurance (optional)
• any parking fees or transport costs
• accommodation if required
Approx. £50 is recommended for personal expenses. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency mobile phones, medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency UK back-up. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate.
Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires – is all done with your safety in mind.
Worldwide Sustainable Tourism
Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through.
Discover Adventure Projects
We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up.
We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with The Conversation Volunteers and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org or call 01302 388883.
Preparing for the challenge
Walking Information and Training
Groups may set off at staggered intervals (depending on numbers) but you can go at your own pace. The full 26-mile walk should take approximately 8-9 hours for fit and strong walkers; others should allow longer. It may take some walkers up to 12 hours. This is not a competitive event! You can go at your own pace, but if we are concerned about you being able to finish the distance safely, we will recommend you stop early. Further information will be sent once you have registered on the event.
We trek mainly on grass paths or dirt tracks but there are some tarmac or stony sections. Some sections may be muddy. There are some steep ascents and descents. The environment we walk through needs the respect of all its users to be preserved. Please walk on the path surface rather than on the vegetation growing beside it, don’t remove stones from the paths and don’t take short-cuts. You are expected to adhere to the Countryside Code and must keep to the designated tracks on MOD land for your own safety.
Be prepared for all weathers! This is a long day and the weather could continually change, you need appropriate, good quality footwear and clothing to cope with the weather conditions, terrain and distance.
Clothing & Equipment
We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice. Each person should bring a small daypack to carry lunch, camera, waterproofs, sun cream, a warm fleece and any other items needed during the day.
This is a long and tough one-day walk and it is consequently vital that you train sufficiently for it. We will supply you with a thorough training guide once you have registered. The more training that you do the more you will enjoy the experience!