National Trails | Oxfordshire County Council

National Trails

The two National Trails - The Ridgeway and Thames Path - that cross Oxfordshire.

The Ridgeway

View of The RidgewayThe Ridgeway, Britain's oldest road, is 87 miles (139km) long and stretches from Avebury south of Swindon in Wiltshire to Ivinghoe, east of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire.

In the west it is a broad ancient track which runs along the top of rolling downland and in the east it passes through the wooded countryside of the Chiltern hills on mostly narrower footpaths.

Rights of Way along The Ridgeway

Vehicular use is only allowed along Public Rights of Way where the route is classified as a Byway. In the past, some motor vehicles have been driven along The Ridgeway in Oxfordshire. There have never been any sections of The Ridgeway in Oxfordshire that were Byway. Vehicular use was on the basis that large continuous sections of the trail were recorded as RUPPs (Roads Used as a Public Path) and there was a presumption of legal rights for motor vehicles on these routes.

Since the Countryside Rights of Way Act in 2000, all RUPPs have been reclassified as Restricted Byways. Restricted Byways only allow access for use on foot, bicycle, horse or horse-drawn carriage. Therefore motor vehicles that attempt to drive along The Ridgeway in Oxfordshire are liable for prosecution.

For more information see Public Rights of Way.

The Thames Path

View of the Thames PathThe 184 mile (295 km) Thames Path follows England’s best known river as it meanders from its source near Kemble in Gloucestershire, through water meadows, historic towns and villages to the heart of London, finishing at the Thames Barrier near Greenwich.

Approximately 43 per cent of The Ridgeway and the Thames Path are in Oxfordshire, and we host their Management Team. Both trails are marked along their entire length by signposts and waymarks showing the National Trails acorn symbol.

Last reviewed
05 September 2012

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