The Avon Valley Path begins in the county of Wiltshire at the statue of The Walking Madonna by Elizabeth Frink, which stands near the north porch of the magnificent medieval Salisbury Cathedral; its landmark spire is the tallest in Britain and is visible for miles around, guiding travellers into the city.
The cathedral was built on a marshy site where five rivers – the Wylye, Avon, Ebble, Nadder and Bourne – all converge. Surrounding this awe-inspiring cathedral are the massive ancient walls and serene lawns of The Close where you will find the charming Mompesson House, a 13th century banqueting hall and two outstanding museums, the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum and the Wardrobe Military Museum.
Leave The Close by the South Gate (Harnham Gate) and cross the River Avon via Harnham Bridge, built in 1245. Then past The Rose and Crown Inn, or perhaps stop for an early rest at this halftimbered 13th century inn, as the view across the river to the cathedral from the riverside lawns is outstanding.
Continue along Bishop’s Walk and up Harnham Hill and then over the open chalk downland of Homington Down towards Dogdean Farm, before dropping down to the River Ebble and the pretty village of Odstock. Stop for a break at the renowned Yew Tree pub or visit St Mary’s churchyard where the rose-covered grave of Joshua Scamp lies. Then the Path takes you south of the village of Nunton.
The Path winds around the foot of Clearbury Down from which you can clearly see Clearbury Ring, an Iron Age hill fort, past the curious octagonal Round House and through Charlton All Saints; it then runs alongside the water meadows where you get your first sight of the intricate irrigation system used to ‘drown’ the meadows. At the 17th century New Court Farm, turn left over the bridge and follow the causeway through the meadows and into Downton.
Distance: 8 miles, 3-4 hours Large map
Salisbury TIC 01722 342860
The Bull, Downton tel 01725 510374
The Kings' Arms, Downton tel 01725 510446
The White Horse, Downton tel 01725 510408
Rose and Crown Hotel tel 01722 399955
Yew Tree tel 01722 329786
Places of Interest
Salisbury Cathedral tel 01722 555120
Old Sarum tel 01722 335398
Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum tel 01722 332151