Wiltshire is a large county in south-west England that shares its borders with a number of other counties, including Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. Wiltshire gets it name from the original county town Wilton, which has since been replaced by Trowbridge.

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Among the county's most notable landmarks are the astonishing stone circles of Stonehenge and Avebury. Salisbury and its medieval cathedral lure further visitors to the area, along with the beautiful country houses of Longleat and the National Trust's Stourhead. Savernake Forest, Caen Hill Locks and Bradford-on-Avon offer further temptations for walkers and day trippers.

Discover the very best of the county with our favourite walks in Wiltshire.

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Derwent Water in autumn

Best walks in Wiltshire

Savernake Forest

5.9 miles/9.5km | 3.5 hours | easy-moderate

Autumn in Savernake Forest
Autumn foliage in Savernake forest/Credit: Getty

A few miles south of the historic town of Marlborough lies a sprawling 2,750-acre forest, once a popular hunting area where royalty chased stags past trees that still stand today.

Savernake is now in private ownership (but open to the public and managed by the Forestry Commission) and is believed to hold the highest concentration of veteran trees in Europe. Several of these specimens have been bestowed with names that reflect their age and history, including the imposing Big Belly Oak, one of the oldest oak trees in Britain.


Caen Hill Locks

3.8 miles/6.1km | 2.5 hours | moderate

Flight of locks
Caen Hill Locks is a flight of locks rising 230ft over Caen Hill in Devizes/Credit: Getty

The Kennet and Avon Canal, built at the turn of the 19th century to link London’s waterways with the Bristol Channel, is a shimmering 87 mile-long necklace studded with man-made gems.

But the apogee of engineer John Rennie’s genius can be found at the aquatic stairway descending from the Vale of Pewsey to the Avon valley: a series of 29 locks – the UK’s longest continuous flight, dropping half a mile in two – including the 16 tightly packed locks of the Caen Hill Flight.

Cadbury Castle, Somerset

Castle Combe

4.5 miles/7.2km | 3 hours | moderate

Pretty English village in autumn
Castle Combe is considered by many to be Wiltshire's most charming village/Credit: Getty

In certain places, the centuries seem to pass by with barely a ripple of change. The Cotswold village of Castle Combe – a living antique adrift in the Wiltshire countryside – is one of them.

It looks no less exquisite today than it did when its weavers played their part in the medieval wool industry: think narrow lanes, a meandering brook, and storybook cottages with tile-stone roofs. The last new house? Built in the 1600s.

No matter what the season, Castle Combe is filled with charm, and the surrounding valley is laced with walks through gorgeous woodland.


Avebury and the Ridgeway

9.2 miles/14.8km | 6 hours | moderate

Avebury, Wiltshire
Avebury is the largest stone circle on Britain/Credit: Getty

With the possible exception of the A5 in North Wales, the Ridgeway may well be the most romantic road in southern Britain. This 5,000-year-old path runs for 89 miles high over the prehistoric landscapes of Wiltshire and Berkshire to finish in the Chilterns. The sheer number of barrows, hillforts and other ancient sites mean that you don’t have to tax your imagination too hard to transport yourself to a magical, forgotten era.

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The Ridgeway clings to the hilltops because these were once the only safe places to travel. The lowlands were choked with dangerous forests, swamps and flooding rivers. So early hunters and settlers chose the dryer heights for their droveways and trade routes. This particular walk, near the start of the Ridgeway National Path samples a section of the road and passes through historic Avebury.


Bradford-on-Avon to Bath

Rural village, river and bridge in summer
Walk to Bath then catch the train back to Bradford-on-Avon (pictured)/Credit: Getty

The Kennet and Avon Canal is a huge success story; over many years it has been transformed from a derelict, watery resting place for shopping trolleys into a leisure hub.

You can walk, cycle or hire a canoe or a barge to enjoy the canal’s stunning surroundings at your own pace, and there’s also an abundance of wildlife, good fishing and fine pubs along the way.

The beauty of this walk, from the pretty Wiltshire town of Bradford on Avon to the Georgian splendour of Bath in Somerset, is that you can tackle it however you please. Trains run regularly between Bath Spa and Bradford, so you can walk one way and get the train back, or if you’re driving, you could park the car at a point along the canal and then walk in whichever direction you choose.

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Authors

Daniel Graham of COuntryfile magazine on a hike with wet hair and blue coat and hills in background
Daniel GrahamOutdoors editor, BBC Countryfile Magazine

Danny is the outdoors editor of BBC Countryfile Magazine, responsible for commissioning, editing and writing articles that offer ideas and inspiration for exploring the UK countryside.

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