THE Iron Age hill fort known as Liddington Castle is one of the most striking ancient structures in the Swindon area.

The latest in our series of walks supplied by Swindon Ramblers gives excellent views of the fort and offers a detour for anybody who wants a closer look.

There are also plenty of opportunities to stop and admire the undulating downland scenery for which the location is famous.

The route includes no stiles.

DISTANCE: 5.5 miles with an extra mile if a circuit of the Liddington Castle hill fort is chosen.

OS MAPS: Explorer 157 and 170. Landranger 174.

START: The starting point is at the junction of the B4192 and Ridgeway Road (SU216805). For roadside parking when travelling from Swindon, turn right off the B4192 towards Chiseldon and immediately look for parking on either side of the road.

The start can be reached by buses 46 and 48, which stop on the B4192 at the Ridgeway crossroads, although walkers should note that there is no Sunday service.



1 Walk away from Swindon along the verge of the B4192 before crossing to the bridle gate at the other side of the road. Go through the gate and turn right. Walk along the right-hand edge of two fields. Pause to admire the peak on the skyline.

2 Toward the end of the third field, veer away from the B4192 and pass through a further five fields. Note that entry to the last three of these is by means of galvanised metal gates - although other walkers have observed that the large metal farm gates next to them seem to be left open permanently. The final field is very large.

3 Go through the bridle gate at the end of the eighth field, then turn right and go through a larger gate. Next, walk down the hillside toward the road. Cross the road to the byway opposite and walk along the valley. You will pass some sarsen stones which are small but clearly visible despite the surrounding undergrowth. The natural colour of the stones is brown, but they are covered with grey lichen. The track then bears left and away from the fence. Near the top, on the left, is an ancient dewpond which is now dry.

4 Where the paths join each other at the top, make a sharp right turn on to the Ridgeway Long Distance Path, which is marked with the familiar acorn logo. The old course of the Ridgeway, from Draycott to Foxhill, is metalled, so an alternative route was found for walkers. As you navigate this part of the walk, look ahead and to the left for a view of the distinctive ‘V’ formed by the ditch and banks of the Iron Age hill fort, Liddington Castle. After the first field the path rises gently, with magnificent views to both the left and the right.

5 The path later runs through the middle of a field, and subsequently curves right to a gateway with a signpost. From here it is possible to take a permissive path - one, in other words, whose use is allowed by a landowner - to Liddington Castle and walk around the perimeter of the hill fort. There are excellent views of Swindon from here. Return to the Ridgeway Path and continue downhill while taking in the distant views over the Lambourn Downs. The path will take you past a clump of trees which is one of the hill’s distinctive features, and also - on the left - a Second World War lookout post. Finally, you will descend to the road and the starting point of the walk.

AS is often the case with favourite Swindon Ramblers walks, this route offers insights into the kind of landscape experienced by ancient people.

The structure we call Liddington Castle, for example, was once a vital defensive stronghold, allowing those who held it an early warning of any approaching threat - and a natural advantage in battle.