Avon Valley Path

Background Information

The Avon Valley Path is a 34-mile trail, following the valley of the River Avon southwards from Salisbury in Wiltshire to Christchuch in Hampshire. The Avon is a beautiful chalk river, which frequently splits into a series of small streams in which you might be lucky to spot a brown trout.

There are four main settlements on the route; the cathedral city of Salisbury, the attractive former market town of Fordingbridge; the busy town of Ringwood, and the pleasant town of Christchurch, a stone's throw away from the sea.

Like many river walks, the Avon Valley Path pays only a passing acquaintance to the river of its name. It mostly follows the floodplain, but the occasional glimpses of the river are accentuated by their scarcity.

The route can be walked in two or three easy days; the path mainly sticks to the valley floor, with only occasional ascents in the northern sections. It should be noted that due to flooding, many parts of the route are impassable in the Spring, usually from January to May.

The River Avon.

Map of the trail

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

List of legs

LegDistance (miles)Ascent (feet)Descent (feet)Difficulty
Christchurch to Ringwood10.513179easy
Ringwood to Fordingbridge9341305easy
Fordingbridge to Downton7.3663607easy
Downton to Salisbury8.5469472medium

Further information (books)

Sadly, I do not know of any books covering this trail.

Further information (websites)

The following websites detail the trail:


All aside from the southernmost leg of this walk is served by the twice-hourly X3 bus services run between Ringwood and Salisbury during the week, with an hourly service on Sundays.

That leaves the complication of how to get from Christchurch to Ringwood; fortunately the X3 bus actually starts at Bournemouth, so you can either catch a train or a bus service from Christchurch to Bournemouth - see the relevant leg for more information.

Map information

1:25,000 maps

Outdoor Leisure 22 (New Forest, Southampton, Ringwood, Ferndown, Lymington, Christchurch and Bournemouth)  Explorer 130 (Salisbury & Stonehenge)  

1:50,000 maps

Landranger 195 (Bournemouth & Purbeck, Wimborne Minster & Ringwood)  Landranger 184 (Salisbury & The Plain, Amesbury)  

Tourist Information

There are tourist information offices at:
  • Salisbury: Fish Row, Salisbury SP1 1EJ. Tel.:01722 342860
  • Fordingbridge: 45B Salisbury St, Fordingbridge SP6 1AB. Tel.: 01425 654560
  • Christchurch: 49A High St, Christchurch BH23 1AS. Tel.: 01202 471780

When to walk

Because flooding can make some of the route impassable, it might be best to avoid walking after heavy winter rainfall. However the area can look beautiful at any time of year.