A Walk to Kings Ditch

Ramsbury Walks – “Kings Ditch” (Ramsbury Bridleways #18B & 48)

It’s easy to speculate that these bridleways follow the route of a Roman track linking Cunetio (Mildenhall) with the villa at Littlecote. The Kennet Valley was also an important east-west corridor for the Saxons and, although by the Middle Ages the main road seems to have shifted north of the river, this track was possibly the M4 of its day.  It still forms part of several much-used and popular circular routes around Ramsbury.

From the parish boundary by Littlecote House, follow the drive westwards, passing just south of the Roman villa and its beautiful mosaics. The river can be heard – and sometimes glimpsed – through the hedge as the path carries on to West Lodge and the ancient and impressive oak (perhaps some 500 years old).  Along this stretch the ground can be treacherous for bicycles – a pronounced camber, slick clay and needle-sharp flints. Pedestrians have it rather easier, and can also opt to take Seven Bridges (Footpath #30) over the river to Newtown Road.

Carrying on past Ambrose Farm and over the Froxfield road, the track divides the steep pasture of Springs Hill from the gentler grazing of the water meadows to the north. This is Kings Ditch proper – most of this path has no formal name, but this seems as good as any – and may once have marked the northernmost limits of Savernake Forest.

Around Harbrook the permissive path is more obvious than the bridleway but is often covered in puddles and mud; walkers especially may prefer to take the right of way itself which runs down the tarmac drive and out past New Cottages. At this point, there’s an option to return to Ramsbury via the Manor Bridge (Bridleway #7) or to continue past Cutnights to Axford, and eventually via Kings Drive (that name again) to Marlborough.