The Ridgeway: Uffington Castle to Scutchamer Knob

NEAREST LOCATION

Uffington Castle

RECOMMENDED BY
DISTANCE

11.4 miles (18.3kms)

ASCENT
636ft (194m)
TIME
4hrs
GRADIENT
DIFFICULTY
Medium
STARTING POINT
SU293866

About the walk

For much of its route, The Ridgeway National Trail follows part of an ancient track, the Great Ridgeway, which once ran from Dorset to Norfolk and which has been dubbed ‘the oldest road’ in Britain. It is impossible to walk the track without feeling that the division between past and present has been worn thin by the tramp of countless feet over the thousands of years of its use. The route of the trail initially follows the northern edge of the North Wessex Downs and finishes on paths through the rolling and wooded Chiltern AONB. These two contrasting landscapes are divided by the River Thames, which cuts through the chalk hills at Goring, and the differences are further emphasized by the route following the banks of the river for some miles before climbing back into the hills.

Walk directions

Walk up to The Ridgeway from the car park and turn left along it. The Ridgeway shuns Uffington Castle, as if to make it clear that it is of greater antiquity, and continues its journey eastwards.

From the B4001 crossing, The Ridgeway continues eastwards, with the natural amphitheatre of the Devil’s Punchbowl immediately below the edge of the scarp. The village at its base is Letcombe Bassett, the ‘Cresscombe’ of Thomas Hardy’s bleak novel Jude the Obscure. Hardy wrote the book while staying in the area and a number of the places passed on this section of The Ridgeway appear there with no greater disguise than a change of name. In fact, a short way ahead, the junction with the A338 marks the site of Jude’s ill-fated vision of the spires of Oxford.

A left turn along the A338 leads to the Court Hill Centre and Hostel on Court Hill. Beyond here, the section of trail is well-used by farm traffic and has been surfaced accordingly, but the familiar grassy and slightly rutted surface of the track is not long in returning. This leads on towards the next crossing of a metalled road, on Lattin Down.

Ahead rises the monument to Robert Loyd-Lindsay. The Ridgeway descends from the monument and continues ahead to a group of trees where you will find Scutchamer Knob, a mutilated round barrow. It would probably pass unnoticed were it not for its curious name, which has aroused considerable
speculation as to its origin. Old maps refer to it as ‘Scutchamfly Barrow’ or ‘Scotchman’s Hob’. One argument is that the name derives from the ‘scutcher’, who beat out the fibres from flax which had previously been softened by soaking. A second school of thought suggests that the name is a corruption of the Saxon ‘Cwicchelmshlaew’; the burial place of a Saxon King Cwicchelm, who died in AD593. At the end of the trees, just beyond Scutchamer Knob, is the head of the metalled road
which climbs up from the A417 at East Hendred and marks the end of this section of the walk.

Additional information

Wide stony or grassy tracks

Big views to faraway hills, rolling farmland, woods, hill fort

Care should be taken when path crosses main roads

OS Explorer 170

Car park at start

None on route

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