The Roman Way - a walker's guide following Roman roads

Day 12 - Woolhampton to Silchester - 9.7 miles

This day's walk is shaped by the geology of the area.  First we follow the gravel filling the Kennet valley, then up above its southern slopes, we walk on the sandy soils where heathland flora thrive.  Pine forests have been planted in the light soils.  At the end of the day, we arrive at the Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum, near Silchester, with its massive flint walls and impressive amphitheatre to visit.

South Gate and Roman walls, Silchester

Day 13 - Silchester to Bradfield - 10.3 miles

From Calleva Atrebatum, the former Roman town, we head north, parallel to the route of the Roman road from the town gate.  All evidence of this northerly road is lost in the extensive pine forest of the Englefield Estate, but there is a chance to enjoy the very different flora of this heathland and woodland environment.  We pass the elegant Elizabethan manor house of Upton Court, descend and ascend across the River Kennet valley to arrive at the distinctive architecture of Bradfield college.

Hard fern

Day 14 - Bradfield to Aston Upthorpe - 11.5 miles

We head north-west across the undulating, wooded landscape of Berkshire with its dispersed settlements.  We find some of the best-preserved English medieval wall paintings in Ashampstead church and, at Aldworth, stone carvings of 'giants'.   Climbing steadily, we reach the high, open downland near the site of a Roman temple, then descend to the spring-line village of Aston Upthorpe.

Medieval wall paintings, Ashampstead

Day 15 - Aston Upthorpe to Dorchester - 11.5 miles

A day travelling north, part of it parallel to, and part of it actually on, the route of the Roman road.  we cross the valley of the River Thames passing through villages that were previously 'islands' in the surrounding marsh and streams.  One ancient Roman crossing of the River Thames is reached west of Shillingford.  This route passes through the remarkable Dyke Hills to arrive at Dorchester-on-Thames.  This was a Roman town one of the centres converted to early Christianity by Saint Birinus.  It has both a magnificent medieval abbey and plentiful 21st century hospitality.

Topiary, Mackney

Day 16 - Dorchester to Oxford - 12 miles

We follow the route of the Roman road for much of the day as we 'march' northwards.  In places, signs of the agger are still visible.  There is a short diversion to see a rare survival of one of England's largest village greens at Marsh Baldon, but we are back on the Roman route as we approach Oxford.  We take the rural Green Belt route through the villages of Garsington and Horspath.  The walk ends near C.S. Lewis' inspiration for Narnia.

'Narnia', C S Lewis Nature Reserve, Risinghurst

Day 17 - Oxford to Alchester, Wendlebury Gate Stables - 10.5 miles

This section goes due north alongside and on the Roman road leading to a major Roman settlement at Alchester.  Historians have examined this road; descriptions by Hussey and Margary are vividly detailed.  The route crosses Otmoor, well-known for its special beauty as an area of wetland, good for wading birds.  The soft mud that the birds like means that, if the water table is high, boots or wellingtons may be needed. We pass through the small village of Fencott near to the site of a rare survivng example of a Roman timber bridge which crossed the River Ray.

Alchester Roman fortres, after a ddrawing by D Miles-Williams