Our favourite weekend walks in and around Winchester
Our resident blogger, Emily - The Winchester Insider and her faithful dog Ted share their favourite weekend walks with us.
As autumn rolls in there is nothing better than spending a weekend morning on a brisk country walk, taking in the beautiful scenery and breathing in the fresh country air before stopping in a cosy pub to warm up with a pint and packet of crisps. I always look forward to weekends when we have nothing planned so we can get out about with Ted and break up the routine of week days. These are a selection of our favourite walks in and around Winchester which all last between 1 and 2 hours. I am so grateful that the city and its surroundings provide such amazing countryside for the dog to run to his hearts content and allow us to get out of the hustle and bustle of daily life. I always find it easier to follow maps (full maps will be on my blog very soon!), but if anyone would like a written description of any of the walks I am very happy to jot it down. We always welcome new suggestions so please get in touch with your favourite for us to try!
The Watermeadows and St Catherines Hill
This walk is one of our favourites to go on when we have visitors, as it shows off the cities most dramatic landmarks, glorious scenery and is a perfect snapshot of Winchester as you wander along the River Itchen. The route is easy and is basically just one big loop - very difficult to get lost but easy to change it up to shorten and lengthen it as you like. We normally park along Garnier Road but you need to get there early, especially at weekends, as it gets very busy. From here you can follow the footpath along, through some fields, to the spectacular Hospital of St Cross which was founded in 1132 and still functions as an almshouse. After passing the hospital, you can circle round, heading up St Catherine's hill on route to take in the views before heading back down, crossing the road and following the river into town. On our way back we come through the Water Meadows which run between the River Itchen and the playing fields of Winchester College. Our favourite pubs along the route are The Black Boy on Wharf Hill which is a very quirky spot or the Wykeham Arms on Kingsgate street which is one of my all time favourites and perfect to snuggle in the corner with a pint.
Easton and The River Itchen
This walk shows the chalk streams of the River Itchen at its absolute best and has some beautiful spots along the whole and perfect for dogs that love swimming. We normally park on Easton Lane and take the footpath as marked on the map. The Itchen Way can then be followed along the river all the way along to Itchen Abbas before turning right to pass Avington Park which is a beautiful large estate and house dating back to the 12th century. At the end ofthe road you turn right again to go though the very picturesque Avington village before taking a cross country or road route back into Easton. When you are back in Easton we love the Chestnut Horse not just for a drink but for their scummy food.
Tichborne and Cheriton
These are two real chocolate box villages just south of New Alresford and the cross country walk is one of my favourites since finding it only recently. We park in Cheriton village and follow a route that spans lots of arable fields before dipping down along the river and cutting through Tichborne estate and then circling up and around into the village. The village has a very unique Saxon church that is well worth a visit en-route. Here we normally stop for a drink and bite to eat at the Titchborne Arms which is a real local boozer before heading back along the road and cutting cross country back to the car. Its a bit more of a work out but perfect for those crisp autumnal mornings.
A little further into the South Downs is the village of East Meon that provides the perfect base for walking, whether you are taking an hours stroll or a 5 hour hike. The land around here is mainly farm land and so you meet every kind of farm animal friend as you wander, so just make sure you remember that cattle may be around every corner. I am very lucky that Ted is very good around them but taking a wide birth is always sensible. We park in the car park in the village next and there are various routes you can take. The map shows our normal Sunday stroll and conveniently ends at the Ye Old George Inn for a tasty burger and pint. The village and its church and really beautiful and it is so peaceful as you wander round. Highly recommended!