Avon Valley Path: Downton to Salisbury


General Data

This walk initially follows the floodplain of the River Avon, before rising onto the valley side and then climbing over the hills and dropping down into the cathedral city of Salisbury via the village of Odstock.

It is a very pleasant stroll, and a rewarding one with which to end this trail.

Distance  8.5 miles
Ascent  469 feet
Descent  472 feet
Est. time  3 hours 18 minutes
Difficulty  medium

Map of the leg

Maps courtesy of Google Maps. Route for indicative purposes only, and may have been plotted after the walk. Please let me have comments on what you think of this new format.


This leg starts off at the junction of High Street and Moot Lane in Downton. Turn left and follow the High Street as it heads westwards, curving around to cross a tributary of the River Avon. The road curves again to head northwestwards, soon reaching another tributary of the river. Cross this bridge, and then immediately turn right to join a footpath.

This footpath initially follows the river on the right, before curving away slightly to the left to head northwestwards for a few yards, before curving to the right to head northwards once more along an obvious path. The path curves to the left to reach a stile; cross this and reach a track on the other side. Turn right and start following this track northwards. When this curves to the left at SU175225, turn right to cross a stile and continue northwards across a series of fields. In the third field aim just to the right of a house; pass this and go through a clapper gate to join Warrens Lane. Turn left to head westwards along this road. After a few yards a junction with Lower Road is reached; turn right to head northwards along Lower Road.

Follow the road as it curves to the left near the church. The map shows the path heading off to the right across a playing field; instead, continue west along the road past the church and then turn right to cross a stile into a field. The path heads northwestwards across fields; it joins a track for a short distance before heading off to the right across fields before meeting a road at SU170245. Turn right along this road and follow it northwards for a third of a mile until just after Matrimony Farm, and then turn left along another footpath that heads northwestwards for a short distance across a field before ending at the A338 road. Carefully cross the A338 and turn left for a few yards before turning right uphill along a bridleway to the west, with a hedge on the right. After a tenth of a mile turn right to go through the hedge and join a footpath that initially heads northwards, passing under some power lines. It becomes a track that curves to the left to take a more westerly course.

The path passes a farm on the left and meets a road to the south of Nunton; follow this road westwards for a couple of hundred yards, and when it curves to the left cross a stile to continue straight on along another footpath that heads westwards for 0.4 miles to a track to the south of Odstock Farm. Continue on along the footpath as it squeezes past a wall on the right and enters a paddock. Head diagonally across this paddock to reach another road in Odstock. Cross this road and take a footpath directly opposite that heads up Shepher's Close. When this road ends, continue on through a car park and then across a playing field. The footpath soon curves to the right to end at a bend in a road at SU143261. Head down this road, and when it curves to the right turn left along another footpath.

This footpath heads slightly north of west for about half a mile to a footbridge over the River Ebble. The path winds around before heading northwestwards along a footpath that ends at a track. Cross the track, and on the other side climb uphill to the north along another track that climbs uphill north to Dogdean Farm. At the farm the track curves to the left to head westwards, and then turn right to follow another path northeastwards for 0.6 miles, descending and climbing until a crossroad with another track is reached at SU137279.

Turn left along a track for 0.4 miles to the A354 road; cross this, and continue along a track called Old Shaftesbury Drove for a short distance. Turn right to climb eastwards, and just after the first house on the right turn left to take a footpath that heads northwards across Harnham Hill, with houses on the right. When this ends at a T-junction with another track at SU134287 above Harnham Slope, turn right to head eastwards along the track. This slowly descends before ending at the junction of Glasmere Close and Old Blandford Road. Turn left and follow Old Blandford Road for a short distance down until it ends at the A3094. Turn right and then left, to follow Harnham Road northeastwards. At a road junction turn left to head north along St Nicholas Road and reach a bridge over the River Avon.

Continue on along this road from the bridge, and when it curves to the right turn left along another De Vaux Place. Head under a gateway and turn to the right to head northwards towards the cathedral. This walk - and the Avon Valley Path - ends at the statue of The Walking Madonna outside the Cathedral.


Places of interest


Downton is a large village situated halfway between Salisbury and Fordingbridge. It nestles on the eastern bank of the River Avon, whilst the smaller village of Wick is situated on the western bank.

The River Avon through Downton splits into a series of tributaries that are all crossed by the road between Downton and Wick.

Downton is home to The Moot, formal gardens based on the grounds of a 12-th Century earthwork castle.

location UID #202


Salisbury is most famous for its cathedral and its spire, at 404-feet the tallest in Britain. However, there is much else of interest in the small city. The present city was started in 1220 when the old cathedral city in Old Sarum, on a hillside a couple of miles to the north, was abandoned. Initially the new city was known by the name 'New Sarum', a term still seen in places.

Perhaps the best views of the city are from the floodplain of the Avon immediately to the south, with the cathedral's spire towering above the surrounding buildings. The grid pattern of the old city can still be seen on the ground, and many of the streets are filled with medieval buildings. Unfortunately the roads tent to be fairly clogged with traffic through much of the day.

It is home to two museums (the Wardrobe museum and the Salisbury and South Wiltshire museum), the former covering the history of the Rifles (Berkshire and Wiltshire) regiment, and the latter covering life in the area.

Two long-distance walks start in the city; the Avon Valley Path winds its way south to Christchurch, whilst the Clarendon Way crosses the hills eastwards towards the cathedral in Winchester.

location UID #45

Salisbury cathedral

Salisbury Cathedral was started in 1220, when the Bishop moved from Old Sarum, a few miles to the north. It was completed in only 45 years (the 404-foot spire was added afterwards). Some of the stonework of the old cathedral was reused, whilst more was floated down the River Nadder on boats.

The cathedral includes the oldest mechanical clock in Britain (and the oldest working clock in the world), which dates from around 1386.

The cathedral precinct is entered via one of five gateways through the 14thCentury city wall. Inside, the hustle and bustle of the city is left behind, making it an ideal area for rest and contemplation of a trail done or one just to be started.

location UID #46


Twice-hourly X3 bus services run between Salisbury and Downton during the week, with an hourly service on Sundays.

Other walk accounts

This leg is mentioned in the following web pages:

Map information

Landranger (1:50,000)   Explorer (1:25,000)
Landranger 184 (Salisbury & The Plain, Amesbury)
Explorer 130 (Salisbury & Stonehenge)

Photos of this leg

Downton.The River Avon in Downton.The River Avon to the north of Wick.Charlton Church.The path leading northwestwards towards the A338.A distant view of Odstock church.Houses in Odstock.The River Ebble to the west of Odstock.The view back towards Dogdean Farm.The view from the bridge over the River Avon in Harnham.Salisbury Cathedral.

Accommodation information

The Rose and Crown
Harnham Road
P: 08444 119046
W: www.legacy-hotels.co.uk
E: res-roseandcrown@legacy-hotels.co.uk

Grid ref: SU143290 (51.059847,-1.797638)
Salisbury Camping And Caravanning Club
Hudson's Field
Castle Road
P: 01722 320713
W: www.campingandcaravanningclub....

Grid ref: SU139318 (51.085639,-1.802444)
Merivale House
The Green
P: 01722 338313
W: www.wolseylodges.com
E: merivalehouse@btinternet.com

Grid ref: SU159309 (51.076787,-1.774195)
Spire House B&B
84 Exeter Street
P: 01722 339213
W: www.salisbury-bedandbreakfast....
E: spire.enquiries@btinternet.com

Grid ref: SU146296 (51.065137,-1.793556)
85 Exeter Street
P: 01722 417944
W: www.85exeterstreet.co.uk
E: info@85exeterstreet.co.uk

Grid ref: SU146295 (51.065035,-1.79347)
The King's Head
1 Bridge Street
P: 01722 438400
W: https

Grid ref: SU 14243 29922 (51.068452,-1.798106)
White Hart Hotel
1 St John Street
P: 01962 312801
W: https

Grid ref: SU 14573 29728 (51.066705,-1.793395)
City Lodge
33 Milford Street
P: 01722 326600
W: www.citylodge.co.uk
E: salisbury@citylodge.co.uk

Grid ref: SU 14663 29955 (51.068744,-1.792108)
Hillside B&B
P: 01722 329746
W: https
E: jdodd321@aol.com

Grid ref: SU 14590 26068 (51.03379,-1.793311)
Barnfield Bed & Breakfast
P: 01725 513386
W: https
E: joan@barnfieldbedandbreakfast.co.uk

Grid ref: SU 16979 22044 (50.997538,-1.759422)
Stable Cottage
Wick Lane
P: 01725 510220
W: www.stablecottagebnb.co.uk
E: info@stablecottagebnb.co.uk

Grid ref: SU 16379 21575 (50.993338,-1.767997)
The Bull Hotel
The Headlands
P: 01725 510374
E: bullhotel.downton@aol.com

Grid ref: SU 17101 21438 (50.992088,-1.757712)
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