Avebury walks II: The Winterbourne and Windmill Hill

This walk has the advantage of offering two possibilities, both of which can be managed if you have three hours or so to spare, or in less than one hour if time is short. As with walk I below, if you’re arriving in Avebury by coach or car you’ll probably get off in the main car park and then walk along the path to Avebury High Street. Once there, turn left away from the Henge itself and walk down the High Street, past the church on your right and carry on down to the end of the road where you’ll take a sharp turn to the right and then to the left. The road has now become a footpath and, after ten minutes or so, will bring you to a little bridge which crosses over the Winterbourne stream. There’s a bench there where you can rest and, looking south across the meadows, be rewarded with one of the loveliest views of Silbury that there is.

Silbury from the Winterbourne

I’ve sat for long periods there just taking in the view and the sound of the Winterbourne when it’s in full flow (as the name suggests however the stream does not flow at all times throughout the year). You may decide that you want to stay there for as long as you can or, if you have time, walk on to Windmill Hill.

There’s a signpost close to the bench indicating a route to Windmill Hill over the fields but my advice is to avoid this as the ground can often be waterlogged or occupied by cows or bullocks. Instead carry on up the lane until you reach the end and then turn right following the lane (then track) up the hill. The original settlement on Windmill Hill is thought to have been made some 5,500 years ago, making it one of the earliest known settlements in the Avebury area (the round barrows within the enclosure however date from the early Bronze Age). Take a moment to sit and imagine what it was like to live there thousands of years ago. If the weather is fine look southwards – you should be able to see Silbury in the distance.

See also Footprints through Avebury by Mike Pitts.