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Have I got a trail for you…


In the thread below, Ric Fan asked if anyone hikes the old Roman Roads. Yes, some of them have been converted to hiking trails. But the best of the best hikes in Britain is the Ridgeway. It’s prehistoric, fam.

Eighty six miles (I thought it was 87, but it says 86 in that graphic I stole and I don’t want to look like a banana) and it’s J.R.R. Tolkien shit the whole way. It starts at Avebury (largest stone circle in Europe) and ends at Ivinghoe Beacon.

I’ve only hiked a few miles of it, although we’ve visited lots of spots along it. We walked up as far as Wayland’s Smithy once, during the foot and mouth crisis of 2001 (I remember stern warnings hanging on the fences). When we drove near the Uffington White Horse I thought sure the car was going to topple down the hill. It’s an amazing thing from one end to the other.

You get a Completion Certificate if you do a big enough chunk.

I want that thing. I want it bad.


Comment from Ric Fan
Time: July 11, 2017, 10:47 pm

Not very straight, is it? I guess it is due to geological barriers. I heard the Romans did very straight roads. Anyway, I was curious as to the word chipping since so many towns on your map have chipp in their name:

Chipping is a prefix used in a number of place names in England, probably derived from ceapen, an Old English word meaning ‘market’, though the meaning may alternatively come from (or via) the Medieval English word chepynge with a more specific meaning of ‘long market square’. It was sometimes historically spelled as Chepying.


I love UK place names.

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: July 11, 2017, 11:17 pm

The journey of 86 miles begins with a single step, Stoaty.

Still at roughly 2,500 steps per mile….. you’ll need to take 214,999 more after that first one.

I would still love to spend a few weeks doing it, stopping at little inns and pubs along the way.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 11, 2017, 11:20 pm

Oh, it’s pubs and B&B’s from one end to the other, Some Veg. The Ridgeway is a whole industry of quaint.

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: July 12, 2017, 12:13 am

I’d want to do it on horse back. I’m so lazy. 🙂

Comment from drew458
Time: July 12, 2017, 1:27 am

Tolkien shit the whole way?

Do you have to sing the hobbit song to get the cert?

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: July 12, 2017, 12:30 pm

Oh, not a roman road, no no, unless it was laid out by quickly unemployed engineer Pissius Drunkus Bummi.

That looks more like a “cow path turned road” road (which about covers the majority of old roads in New England).
I’ll wager ‘ridgeway’ is our clue. Probably kept travelers out of low soggy fens, miasmas and woody places filled with “Old Man Willow” types and up on the high dry ground.

You get Extra points on your certification if Uncle B dresses up as Tim Benzedrine and sings his songs, I just know I read that in the fine fine print on the web site you linked to.

“Tim! Tim! Benzedrine!
Hash! Boo! Valvoline!
Clean! Clean! Clean for Gene!
First, second, neutral, park,
Hie thee hence, you leafy narc!”

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: July 12, 2017, 2:06 pm

White Horse Hill sings to my soul. I have a big plain wall in my living room—about 15 ft tall and 22 ft long—I’d love to reproduce the White Horse on it. I expect half the painters in the U.K. have painted the White Horse. They probably start in school, with first graders 🙂

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: July 12, 2017, 3:23 pm

@Deborah HH
That’s probably much better than having them paint the Cerne Abbas ‘Rude man’ 🙂

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: July 12, 2017, 4:09 pm


Comment from ExpressoBold
Time: July 12, 2017, 7:47 pm

Does the Tarka Trail beckon?

Comment from Carl
Time: July 13, 2017, 3:05 pm

Many of the Roman roads are still in use – Oxford Street and Park Lane in central London for instance.

Comment from Carl
Time: July 13, 2017, 3:28 pm

Swease, if you haven’t yet been to Avebury yet, I highly recommend it.

Apart from the ancient stones, there is a Tudor manor house, a medieval church, 2 museums, a cafe and a good pub.

It’s just a stroll to the prehistoric mound at Silbury Hill and, a little bit further on, the West Kennet Long Barrow. You can go right inside the barrow which was built more than 5,000 years ago. It’s a bit claustrophobic but they have put a skylight in.

If that isn’t enough, Marlborough, down the road has good pubs, old coaching inns, restaurants and tea rooms. The Polly Tea Rooms are particularly good.

Comment from Drew458
Time: July 13, 2017, 7:54 pm

Durnedyankee – that means Stoaty would have to dress us as Hashberry. Groovy.

I’ve got a first paperback edition of that book around here somewhere with the trippy cover art that I found when I was a kid. Funniest thing ever, but very 60s. And you have to have OD’d on JRR several times over beforehand for the jokes to work. To this day, he’s still Dildo Bugger to me. Along with Gimlet, Goodgulf, Frito, Spam, Pepsi,and Legolamb.
“… but pity stayed his hand. ‘It’s a pity I’ve run out of bullet’ Dildo thought …” It sticks in your head forever.

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