Perfect places to walk in any season

Howard’s House is surrounded by Wiltshire’s very own secret garden; the Nadder Valley. England at its most natural and serene, the Nadder Valley offers perfect walking country in almost any weather. There is an ample range of both riverside and woodland walks along the valley bottom, and two major routes along the north and south drove roads. Walkers will find various hostelries along the way, offering excellent food and local beers.

Peruse our handmade Walker’s Book, which includes over 25 of our favourite walks, with handy maps to guide your way. Our kitchen can also create picnic hampers or knapsacks to provide some welcome sustenance for your trails.

Nature’s ‘Chalk and Cheese’: The Nadder Valley

The varied countryside of the Nadder Valley, peppered with picturesque villages, provides walking to suit all tastes: hikes or strolls, riverside or woodland, fields or hills. Rambling from emerald valleys to ancient woodland, walkers will find here that the quiet beauty of England’s ‘green and pleasant land’ is alive and well.

Wiltshire’s landscape has traditionally been described as ‘chalk and cheese’. The higher areas of rolling downland are the ‘chalk’, while ‘cheese’ refers to the flatter pasture lands of north west Wiltshire and the river valleys of the south with their neutral, clay soils.

Thanks to this natural diversity of habitats, the Nadder Valley teems with wildlife. The rich variety of flora and fauna to be found here is one of several reasons why much of the county is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Ramblers will spot a variety of creatures along their way, from the grazing cows, sheep and horses to river birds and their young, water mammals, field rodents, foxes, hares and rabbits, and if you’re lucky, some of our shyer creatures, such as badgers and several species of deer.

Wiltshire is also of particular significance for several species groups, including farmland birds, barn owls, calcareous and woodland butterflies, bees and bats. The population of Marsh Fritillary butterflies found on Salisbury plain and throughout Wiltshire is a species of national and European importance.

The Nadder Valley’s natural beauty attracts travellers from far and wide. One has only to glimpse the rolling green hills and panoramic plains, the wide valleys and the water meadows, to understand why the landscape here was one of Constable’s most favoured subjects.

The Nadder river itself offers not only stunning walking, but some of England’s finest trout fishing. Within the hamlet of Milton, East Knoyle, lies one of Wiltshire’s famed ‘bluebell woods’ offering one of the UK’s most delightful springtime vistas.

Wiltshire and the Nadder Valley are also home to many Nature Reserves, some of global importance. Wiltshire contains 40% of the world’s chalk grassland, and The Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s New Life for Chalk Grassland project is doing significant work towards protecting this environment and its associated wildflowers, birds, mammals and insects.

Choosing a Route

Walkers and ramblers will be spoilt for choice. The trick, of course, is to know where to start and finish, and where to break for lunch.

A popular starting point is Burcombe, where the Nadder river joins the Wylye. The Norman church and the rectory are all that remains of this ancient ‘plague village’. The new village is to the South along the line of the Nadder and features a wonderful pub, the Ship Inn. From here direct byway routes stretch up to the southern drove road and to the northern ridge up to the ancient beeches of Grovely woods, steeped in history and folklore.

The former Royal Forest is a site of prehistoric earthworks, ancient paths and a Roman road, which brought lead from the Mendips and formed part of the network of Roman roads that met at Old Sarum. A pleasant morning or afternoon walk might take one from Burcombe up to Grovely woods, then down to Great Wishford and the Royal Oak, at the ford of the Wylye.

At the western end of the valley lies Lower Chicksgrove, just before the ancient town of Tisbury, which is well situated for short circular river and woodland walks.

For a rewarding day’s walk, one could begin at Burcombe and enjoy a stiff climb up to the southern ridge and then a long upland ramble along the drove road before coming down to the valley bottom via Fovant and heading along the lanes to Chicksgrove and The Compasses Inn.

Tisbury, an hour’s stroll from Howard’s House, provides an excellent point at which to begin or end one’s walk. The walks around Tisbury are in vast supply, whether you choose to head west to the evocative landscapes of Old Wardour and its castle ruins, or north along the high lanes around the Ridge, and then perhaps onwards to refreshment at the Black Dog in Chilmark.

Situated at the heart of many of the region’s most wonderful and rewarding walks, Howard’s House will provide all the information and guidance you might require for your adventures.

Depending on your chosen route, our safe haven will provide welcome sustenance, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner. We’ll also provide delicious bespoke packed lunches should you desire them. There is no better way to appreciate our natural world than to walk within it, and you would be hard pressed to find a better base for your explorations of Wiltshire than Howard’s House Hotel.

Book Online