1 The Ridgeway - www.nationaltrail.co.uk/ridgeway - runs for 87 miles between Wiltshire and Buckinghamshire, and is readily accessible from Barbury Castle near Wroughton. To walk along it is to follow in the footsteps of ancient traders for whom what we now call The Ridgeway was part of a major route through the heart of England from the ports of the South Coast. Archaeologists say the path dates back some five millennia.

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2 The last of prominent Swindon gentry the Goddards left their home in what is now Lawns Park - www.swindon.gov.uk/directory_record/8466/lawns_park - the best part of a century ago. The mansion, having fallen into disrepair, was demolished in the 1950s, its structure reduced to rubble and used to fill the capacious cellars. The remains, together with those of nearby Holy Rood church, form the centrepiece of one of Swindon’s most picturesque parks.

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3 Coate Water inevitably features in any list of enjoyable walks in and around Swindon. Originally dug to provide water for the Wilts and Berks Canal, the reservoir later became the favourite local leisure destination it remains to this day. The water and the surrounding landscape are home to an ever-changing variety of bird life, ranging familiar domestic species to the occasional exotic visitor.Informative signage near the site of the old mansion gives a good idea of the layout of the rooms and the original garden.

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4 For some unknown reason Stanton Park is somewhat less well-known than many of the other parks in the area. Perhaps it is due to the fact that it is officially less than 20 years old. Nevertheless, the beautiful park near Stanton Fitzwarren is always worth a visit. The centrepiece is the large lake, and the large variety of plant, animal and bird life means there is always something to delight the senses.

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5 The Thames Path - www.nationaltrail.co.uk/thames-path - follows the nation’s most famous river as it meanders for 184 miles from its Gloucestershire source to the Thames Barrier, only a few miles from the sea. Some people choose to walk its whole length, whether in a single trip or instalments, while others prefer simply to visit their nearest stretch and enjoy a relaxing stroll.

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6 The Old Town Railway Path is a much-loved green corridor skirting the south of Swindon along a route which was once the line of the Midland and South Western Junction Railway. Readily accessible from Signal Way in Old Town, the path includes fascinating relics of the past, such as the barely-recognisable remains of the old Rushey Platt station.

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7 Shaw Forest Park, like Stanton Park, is a fairly recent addition to the Swindon area’s roster of beautiful public open spaces, and has a rather different history. Occupying the site of an old landfill, the park is the result of many years’ careful reforesting, and now includes wildflower meadows hedgerows, woods, grassland, wetlands and two lakes. The park is home to an impressive array of animal and plant species, ranging from deer to bats. Further information can be found at www.swindon.gov.uk/info/20077/parks_and_open_spaces/489/shaw_forest_park

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8 Barbury Castle, the Iron Age hill fort which lies outside Wroughton and dominates the landscape, has been an important part of local life for thousands of years. For its earliest inhabitants the place was a relatively safe place to call home, as approaching enemies could be observed from afar and preparations made to repel them. These days, of course, it is simply one of the area’s best-known visitor attractions.

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9 Avebury is nowhere near as internationally famous as fellow ancient Wiltshire destination Stonehenge, but many people feel it is a more enjoyable place to visit. Members of the public are free top stroll among the standing stones which might once have been part of a place of worship or perhaps a means of mapping and navigation - something which is forbidden at Stonehenge in all but the most special circumstances.

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10 Cotswold Country Park - www.waterpark.org - covers 40 square miles of Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, and offers many walking trails suitable for all tastes and abilities.

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