- Start: Old Sarum car park. Grid reference SU139327
- End: Old Sarum car park. Grid reference SU139327
- Country: England
- County: Wiltshire
- Type: Country
- Nearest pub: The Old Castle Harvester, Castle Road
- Ordnance Survey: Explorer 130, Landranger 184
- Difficulty: Medium
A hillfort, a Bishop's Palace, a Prime Minister and a Cathedral... discover traces of our distant past on this interesting walk
Distance: 8 km (5 miles) Time: 2 hours Exertion: Moderate
Through the Ages
A hillfort, a Bishops Palace, a Prime Minister and a Cathedral discover traces of our distant past on this interesting walk
Points of Interest
Old Sarum Castle
Parliament Tree Stone
Avon Valley Nature Reserve
Boots on? Lets go!
1 Walk around Old Sarum Castle and the remains of a cathedral and Bishops Palace. The hill fort was constructed in the Iron Age but evidence of stone tools there indicates there has probably been human activity here since Neolithic times. Romans and Saxons have occupied the site and the fort was later rebuilt in stone by the Normans.
To start the main walk, go back down the lane from the car park and pass through the first gate on the right. Keep straight ahead ignoring paths leading up onto ramparts. Go through another gate. Just before you reach the road, turn right onto Pewsey Avon Trail. Keep straight ahead with the hedge to your right. Just before you reach a metal gate, take the left-hand fork between bushes. Turn right when you reach the next path.
Halfway down this path look out for the Parliament Stone, just past the first gate on the right. The stone was erected to commemorate the nearby site of an old elm tree, where MPs for the Borough of Old Sarum were elected. The most notable person to be elected here was William Pitt. At the bottom of the path, cross the road and continue straight ahead. Turn next left following the sign for leisure centre/city centre.
2 Keep on the metalled path until you reach Five Rivers Leisure Centre. Cross the road by the entrance to the car park at the leisure centre and go over a wooden bridge. Turn right onto a gravel track. After a short distance cross another bridge, and opposite the play area bear right to walk through Avon Valley Nature Reserve with the river on your right. Continue on this path, part of which is along a boardwalk, and then bear left on a well-worn path away from the river.
3 Cross a stile and turn right over the bridge. Go over another bridge and keep on the metalled path to a road. Turn left at the road and carry on past Mawarden Court, an attractive stone house where William Pitt (also known as Pitt the Elder) spent some of his childhood. He was MP for Old Sarum 1735-47, and in 1766 was Prime Minister for two years.
A little further on is St Lawrence Church, which was constructed from brick and flint - much of the stone may have been taken from Old Sarum. Ignore the first stile just past the church and carry on to the second stile on the right by the Stratford Sub Castle road sign.
4 Cross the stile and walk diagonally across the field, aiming for the left of the church. Just past the church, cross a couple of stiles on both sides of a metalled track and continue ahead across the next two fields, eventually bearing right to walk past a barn and stables on the left. Cross yet another stile.
5 After a short distance turn left onto a bridleway and walk up the track heading for Old Sarum. Bear left away from a metal gate and continue uphill. Go through the next gate on the right. At the top of the path turn right, here you have good views of Salisbury and the Cathedral. Follow the path around the ramparts to the entrance for the car park. JANE PITMAN
Terrain: Minor roads, field paths and stiles.
Child/dog friendly: Most of the earthworks of Old Sarum Castle, and the walk up to and including Avon Valley Nature Reserve, are pushchair-accessible, but from point 3 onwards there are stiles to negotiate. Dogs should be kept on leads.
Start: Old Sarum car park. Grid reference SU139327
OS maps: Explorer 130, Landranger 184
Refreshments: The Old Castle Harvester, Castle Road
Public Transport: See wdbus.co.uk
PHOTOS: JANE PITMAN