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Combe Gibbet and Buttermere Walk

Trail : BRKSTR0002
Activity : Walk
Area : Newbury and the Berkshire Downs
Type(s) : Country Escape
Author : Andy Oakes
Distance : 7.1 miles / 11.4 km
Ascent : 768 feet / 234 metres
Location : SU380615 / RG17 9EH

Trail Summary

An exhilarating walk in the hills south of Newbury, including a section of the Wayfarer's Walk, Walbury Hill, the macabre Combe Gibbet and the tiny villages of Combe and Buttermere. Despite some steep sections, the extensive views and varied terrain make this a walk well worth tackling.

Trail Map

Route Map

 Trail Profile

Route Map

Trail Details

From the car park, look for the footpath where the gravel track meets the road. Follow the footpath south west, through a break in the scrub to pick up a shallow trench between the bushes. Follow this down hill as it deepens between trees to meet a gate. Turn right and follow the track leading to Combe.

[1] In the centre of Combe, turn left at the T-junction and follow the road (Church Lane) uphill. At the hairpin bend, take the signed footpath passing the church on your right. The church is worth a pause - made of flint, the chancel and nave dorway are believed to date from the early 13th century. Follow the path steeply uphill through trees, with delightful views back across Combe to Walbury Hill. As the path levels out, cross a farm track and look for the style.

[2] Cross the style and take the path ESE across the field, with woods to your right. The path leads into an opening in the woodland ahead, where a signed footpath leads to a track. Follow the track, keeping left to where a footpath is signed to the right. Take this path to meet the Test Way at a crossing of paths. Turn left on the Test Way, heading downhill beside trees.

[3] Where the path levels out turn right on the chalky track, running along the valley floor. The track starts to ascend with trees on your left. Shortly after the trees end, the track becomes a grassy path leading to Grange Farm. Turn left heading uphill to join Church Lane and follow this to a T-junction. Turn right on the road through Buttermere, passing a phone box, to another junction around a triangle of grass. Keep right and continue to the end of the road. Continue on the footpath between fields, to emerge at a junction with a broad track near the top of Ham Hill. This is the Wayfarer's Walk.

[4] Turn right and follow the Wayfarer's Walk along the ridge towards Inkpen Hill. The track is rutted in places and can be muddy after rain, but the rewards are the glorious views north across Wiltshire and Berkshire. Continue along the track, passing the Test Way which joins from your right, to Combe Gibbet.

[5] Take the footpath leading up to a replica of the Combe Gibbet, the original of which was erected in the 17th century. Having taken a few moments to enjoy the views both north and south, continue past the gibbet to rejoin the broad track and head downhill to a meeting a roads. Cross straight over to rejoin the track , passing an alternative parking option on your left, and head gently uphill.

[6] A gate and path lead you off the Wayfarer's Walk to the summit of Walbury Hill (297m) and the iron age hill fort of Walbury Camp. Returning to the Wayfarer's Walk, continue on the broad track downhill to return to the car park from where you started.

Get the Maps


South from Sandpits Down
Combe Church
Combe and Walbury Hill
Combe Gibbet
North from Gallows Down
South from Gallows Down

Trail Location

Route Map

Location Details
The trail starts from the car park to the east of Walbury Hill, grid reference SU380615, accessible from Newbury via Ball Hill, or from Inkpen. The car park is predominantly grass but can be muddy at times.

Combe Gibbet

Combe Gibbet was erected in 1676 to hang lovers George Broomham and Dorothy Newman, for the murder of George's wife and son who had discovered their affair. Tried and hung in Winchester, the pair, from Combe and Inkpen respectively, were then strung up from Combe Gibbet as a warning to others not to commit crimes. The current gibbet is a replica.

Further Reading

The Wayfarer's Walk by Hampshire County Council

Trail Notice Board

No. Date Posted Posted By Comment
1 16 Feb 2015, 18:19 Auriol Mckay Walked the circular trail from Gibbet down to Buttermere on Friday. Drizzle and biting wind in exposed parts. But beautiful! Loved St. James church where we sheltered for sandwich and breather...so simple and such a pure atmosphere. Glad to have done it..only sad part was deep 4x4 ruts in bridleway on way back, an unpleasant hip-hop to avoid mud.. Not such a nice end to a brilliant 7 mile striding walk.