Escape the City: Walking the Winchester Circuit

With lockdown easing it is presenting the opportunity to break out of the city and embrace the countryside. A couple of weekends ago my sister suggested going on a country walk during the may bank holiday. My first inclination would have been to hit the coast but with rail works going on I had to start looking beyond the regular haunts. I looked west and thanks to the fabulous website The Walking Club we had a host of walks to choose from.

After much scrolling and looking at train timetables we settled on The Winchester Circular Walk. It was rated as 4/10 for toughness and just over 11 miles.

I’ve never been to Winchester but will certainly be going back post lockdown to explore its spectacular historic buildings. The walk itself takes you through the centre past the beautiful cathedral leading you out into the countryside following the path of the river. The first climb is up St. Catherine’s Hill, it offers lovely views over the area. After a short break we descended down following the path of the plague pits that fill the valley, crossing the not so glamorous motorway before finding ourselves surrounded by rapeseed fields. I do love their bright yellow colour.

The start of the walk
Winchester Cathedral
Around the Cathedral
Around Winchester Cathedral

The route takes you alongside a golf course, though narrow country paths until you end up back at the river. This seemed like the perfect place for a picnic lunch break. The sun out, we tucked into our sandwiches and took in the beautiful countryside. It was at this point we were just over halfway on the walk.

Bright yellow fields!
The narrow countryside paths around the golf course

Getting back to the walk we followed the river which flowed behind some stunning looking houses. There are some nice digs in Winchester! There is an opportunity at this point to cut the walk short and jump on the train in Shawford. We carried on. The walk took us up on an ascent through the fields past very very large houses looking back on St. Catherine’s Hill as we began to loop back to Winchester. It was the last hour of the walk that really hit us. The weather was starting to turn and we were tired. There are options in the instructions to cut the walk shorter, I think if we were to go back I would take that and enjoy the stops a bit more rather than rushing to finish the whole walk before it got too late.

Walking along the picturesque river
Looking back on St. Catherine’s Hill that we had climbed earlier in the walk
The house where Jane Austen died
Weary walkers!!
The route thanks to strava

Overall it was a lovely walk and day out of the city. It is so nice to be in the countryside. Winchester definitely deserves more of my time to explore it. Fingers crossed lockdown continues to ease so I can go and really get my history nerd hat on.

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