An exhilarating downland walk to a famous white horse.
Distance 4 miles (6.4km)
Minimum time 2hrs 30min
Ascent/gradient 557ft (170m)
Level of difficulty Medium
Paths Field paths and downland tracks, 1 stile
Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 143 Warminster & Trowbridge
Start/finish ST 914523
Dog friendliness Let dogs off lead on top of Westbury Hill
Parking Jubilee Hall in Tynings Lane, Bratton, just off B3098
Public toilets None on route
1 Turn right out of the car park to the B3098. Turn left, then almost immediately left again up Butts Lane. Fork right into Upper Garston Lane by the Oratory of St Giles then, just before the lane dips, take the path left, waymarked to the church. Descend steps, cross a brook, then climb steps to the church gates. Take the narrow path right and ascend through trees. Ignore the stile on your left and climb the stile ahead into pasture at the base of downland.
2 Follow the permissive path half-right up the field, passing through a belt of trees, then climb diagonally up the scarp slope to the fence at the top. Keep right alongside the fence, go through a gate, then turn right through a metal gate to follow a sunken track around the top of Combe Bottom. At the lane, turn left uphill and soon take the track, right, on to the outer rampart of Bratton Camp. Bear right to follow the outer rampart path to reach the Westbury White Horse hill figure.
3 Shortly, leave the rampart and pass through a gate on to Westbury Hill. Keep to the path, passing benches and a viewpoint pillar, and soon reach a track. Turn left, pass the car park entrance and turn right at the T-junction. Pass White Horse Farm and turn left along the track to join the Imber Range Perimeter Path.
4 Keep to the track for ¾ mile (1.2km) to a barn and take the bridle path left through a gate. Follow the track past a copse into a field and keep to the left-hand edge to a gate. Bear right steeply down a sunken track towards Bratton. Go through a gate and descend through trees and keep ahead on reaching a metalled lane. Turn left at the T-junction, then bear left up a cobbled path (The Ball) between cottages. At the road, keep left back to the hall and car park.
What to look for:
Make sure you pause at the viewpoint pillar on Westbury Hill, especially on a clear day, as you will be surprised just how far reaching the view is. Walk this way in spring and early summer to see the grassy downland summit and slopes alive with chalk loving plants, such as bird’s foot trefoil, and butterflies like the chalkhill blue.
While you’re there:
Make the short trip east along the B3098 to Edington to see the impressive, cathedral-like Church of St Mary, St Katherine and All Saints. It is an architectural treasure, built in 1351 as part of a priory founded by William of Edington, Bishop of Winchester, for Augustinian monks. There is much to marvel at including a rare wooden screen of 1500 and one of the oldest clocks in England, so pick up a church guide.
Distance: 61⁄2 km (4 miles) Time: 2 Hours
POINTS OF INTEREST:
• Views of Longleat House and parkland
• Sculptures by Paul Norris at Heaven’s Gate
• Thatched congregational chapel in Horningsham village
• Village pump and commemorative beech tree in Horningsham village
• Pretty Mill pond
• Gateway to Longleat
1 On the opposite side of the road to the car park take the gravel track leading into the woods. Keep on this well-defined track and after a short while go through double gates. To see the fantastic view of Longleat House, walk ahead through the stones at Heaven’s Gate. To continue the walk, go back towards the stones and pass through a wooden gate to the right of the stones. Keep on this path until you reach a crossroad of paths and turn right. Continue down the hill and take the right hand fork as the path splits. At the next crossroad of paths carry on ahead onto a metalled lane continuing past pretty thatched stone cottages. Go straight over the next set of crossroads and continue on this lane to the parish church of St John the Baptist founded in the 12th century. After extensive restoration in 1783 and 1843, very little of the original structure of the church can be seen apart from the Perpendicular tower.
2 After visiting the church, walk up the lane and turn right at the T-junction. Carry on down the hill and as Church Street bears to the right take the narrow lane on the left which leads past a war memorial. Continue on this lane for approximately 1.2 km ignoring a lane turning to the left at The Corner. As you walk through Horningsham village look out for a thatched Congregational Chapel, built in 1566, known as the Old Meeting House where a service is still held every Sunday. A little further on is a beech tree planted to commemorate the Silver Jubilee anniversary of Queen Elizabeth in 1977. When you reach The Bath Arms, built in the 17th century, turn right at the crossroads and follow the sign for Salisbury/Warminster. On the right hand side of the road is the village pump which was installed c1904.
3 Turn left into a narrow lane opposite Horningsham village hall. Shortly go through a wooden gate on the left and walk diagonally across the field. Ahead you can see an attractive stone gateway into Longleat. Just before the next wooden gate bear right at the telegraph pole and continue across the field aiming for a gap in the hedge. Once through the gap walk diagonally across the field to a stile on the left of houses.
4 After crossing the stile turn left at the road. Walk past Mill Farm, cross a footbridge over Mill pond and carry on up the hill. Turn left to walk down past the church again and shortly turn right at the footpath sign. Go through a kissing gate, walk diagonally across the field aiming for a red telephone box. Cross the road and take the lane straight ahead between houses. As the lane bears to the left keep straight ahead onto a bridleway and continue uphill to a road. Turn left and follow this fairly busy road back to the car park.
Terrain: Field paths, minor roads, stiles and one fairly steep hill to climb.
Child/dog friendly: The first part of the route to Heaven’s Gate is accessible for pushchairs; keep dogs on leads
Start: Public car park at grid reference ST828423
Map: Ordnance Survey Landranger 183
Wiltshire Council links: