This page seeks to give some background to the Icknield Way development and our ambition to become a fully recognised National Trail forming the missing link between the Peddars Way and the Ridgeway National Trails. We are working co-operatively with the other routes on promoting the Great Chalk Way, lining the Dorset and Norfolk coasts along the chalk spine across central-southern England.
Background to the Icknield Way Corridor Concept
In March 2005 Colin Speakman prepared a report for the Countryside Commission and the Icknield Way Forum on the viability of the Icknield Way, entitled Sustainable Access to the Icknield Way. The full report is reproduced here, although some of the information is now out of date, it still includes much useful information. The following extract summarises the background to the Icknield Way:
The 105 mile (168km) long Icknield Way Path between Ivinghoe Beacon and Knettishall Heath Country Park is remarkable for a number of reasons. It is one of the oldest walking and riding trails in Western Europe, being in constant use over a period of 4,000 years. It is also a complex route to define historically because of many variations over the ages, as travellers took different choices of routes depending on the condition of the highway, the nature of their journey and the goods they were carrying, and increasingly in the 20 and 21st centuries, motor traffic on the highway. Some sections therefore follow the authentic, prehistoric or medieval line of route; others have been devised in practical ways to avoid busy sections of main road or recent urban development.
In other words, the Icknield Way has always been a “corridor” and for this reason is admirably suited to be developed into a dual purpose route, on the one hand meeting the needs of walkers, on the other equally suitable for horse riders and cyclists, with many parallel or braided sections, but also with many sections of track and quiet lane being used in common. This reflects both its historic and modern development and function.
A third special feature of the route is that it links two existing National Trails, both of them also of exceedingly ancient origin – The Ridgeway which links the Wiltshire Downs and the Chilterns, and Peddars’ Way – a comparative newcomer being largely Roman in origin – between the forested landscapes of Breckland and the Norfolk Coast. …Sustainable Access to the Icknield Way, March 2005
The Committee of the Icknield Way Association are continuing to promote the route through adjusting the route in response to new developments, maintaining the waymarking along the route, maintaining a network of volunteer wardens along the route to ensure it is usable, maintaining links with highway authorities and other stakeholders on the route.