St. Catherine's Hill from Compton Down

SWC Walk 15 : Winchester Circular

08-Jul-15 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Winchester Cathedral

Winchester Circular walk

10-Feb-16 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

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View from St Catherine's Hill

Winchester Circular walk

17-Jan-04 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

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Crossing the M3

Winchester Circular walk

27-Dec-04 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

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Round table

Great Hall Winchester Circular

12-Sep-10 • moontiger on Flickr

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Saint Cross Church and Hospital from St Catherine's hill

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18-Dec-10 • Ludovic Lemaignen on Flickr

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Mill on the Itchen, near Hockley Farm

SWC Walk 15 : Winchester Circular

08-Jul-15 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Winchester Circular walk

A historic Cathedral City, St Catherine's Hill and downland.


This is a list of previous times this walk has been done by the club (since Jan 2010). For more recent events (since April 2015), full details are shown.

Updated: Mon, 15-Jul-19

Date # Post
Sat, 01-Dec-18 11

Saturday walk - Winchester Circular - Downs, history and a Christmas market

Length: 18km (11.2 miles), with shortcuts of 15.6km (9.7 miles) or 9.1km (5.6 miles) possible
Toughness: 4 out of 10: one big hill climb. T=3.15

9.35 (Weymouth-bound) train from Waterloo, arriving 10.32.

From Clapham Junction get either the 9.22 (Haslemere-bound) or 9.27 (Exeter-bound) train to connect with the above train at Woking (arriving 9.42 or 9.45 and departing at 10.00)

For walk directions click here. For GPX click here.

Buy a day return to Winchester unless you plan to cut the walk short at Shawford (see ** below), in which case buy a day return to there.

This walk made a nice pre-Christmas outing a few years ago. At its end, next to Winchester Cathedral, you come to a large Christmas market - even larger this year, my spies tell me, with the new addition of a food court and a British craft section.

Before that, some walking. Passing through the historic centre of Winchester and not letting yourself get too distracted by its numerous points of interest (exhaustively detailed in the walk document and on the home page for this walk), you go out along the ancient water meadows and up onto the Iron Age hill fort of St Catherine's Hill.

At this point two short cuts are possible.

- The River Short Cut goes along the Itchen River to Shawford, a very pretty path through the water meadows which is also gravel and so dry underfoot. There is motorway noise in its early stages but this fades. This gets you to lunch a bit quicker and is ideal for those who want to walk at a slightly slower pace but still be with the main group for lunch. It makes a total walk of 15.6km (9.7 miles).

- The Tourist Short Cut is for those who want to get back to Winchester by lunch time to visit the Christmas market in more detail or perhaps go round the cathedral (a full guided tour of which is included in the walk directions and on the home page for this walk). This route also includes a pretty riverside approach to St Cross Church which is not on any other route. This makes a total circular walk off 9.1km (5.6 miles).

** Another way to get back to Winchester early would be to do the main walk or River Short Cut to lunch and then get a train (19 past the hour) back to Winchester from Shawford - the station is right by the lunch pub - or one of the thrice hourly number 1 buses - see walk directions for the location of the bus stop.

Lunch on both the main walk and River Short Cut is at Shawford at the capacious (and hopefully not overbooked) Bridge Inn. There is also now a tea room opposite the pub serving the usual sandwiches and paninis etc.

After lunch you follow a long downland curve, mainly on easy paths, with distant views of the cathedral and St Catherine's Hill, to arrive back in Winchester. The famed tea room at St Cross is not open this time of year, but the Christmas market beckons in any case. Winchester also has oodles of other tea options - see the home page or walk document.

Trains back from Winchester are at 18, 25, 48 and 56 past till late, the 18 and 48 ones being slightly quicker.

11 on this walk. The weather was better than expected light rain soon fading to misty cloud. By 12.30 it was dry, if overcast (patches of blue sky to the north failing to come our way).

This made a good winter walk with the paths firm underfoot throughout. But chalk and rotting leaves are a lethal combination and we had two falls in the morning. One resulted in a swollen wrist whose owner took it off to A&E after lunch, getting the train back from Shawford. We hope the injury did not prove serious.

Eight of us lunched at The Bridge. Very cosy and capacious though we would probably have managed to get a table even if we had not booked. Our arrival coincided with a rush of other orders, unfortunately, and we also had the annoying ten minutes wait to order from the table. Despite frantic staff activity, meals then issued from the kitchen at a glacial pace. Though to be fair they said 40 minutes and 40 minutes from ordering was about right. The food was nice when it came, though by this point (2pm) I might have found the carpet tasty.

In the afternoon the group twice pioneered alternative routes. One was recorded for posterity, the other will have to wait for the next walk check. We got split up at the end but at least three of us lingered in the very busy and extensive Christmas market by Winchester Cathedral, drinking mulled wine (or tea in my case) and wondering whether we really needed a pepper pot shaped like a chess piece or a £25 pair of alpaca socks. The answer proving to be no, we shoehorned into a pub. Two then got the 6.48 train.
Sun, 16-Sep-18 10

Sunday Walk – Heritage Open Day in Winchester

Extra Walk 15a – Winchester Circular (with river shortcut)
Length: 15.3 km (9.5 miles). Toughness: 4/10

09:35 Weymouth train from Waterloo (Clapham Jct 09:45), arriving Winchester at 10:45.

Trains back from Winchester are at xx:23 and xx:45.

This walk is an attractive mixture of hills and water meadows, and the notes mention lots of interesting things to see in and around the ancient city of Winchester. There are several free events this weekend as part of Heritage Open Days so when you get to the top of St Catherine's Hill I suggest switching to the ‘River short cut’ (or even the 8.9 km ‘Tourist short cut’), giving more time to see what you can find in the city at the end.

The River route rejoins the main route before lunch so the lunchtime pub is still The Bridge in Shawford, which serves food all day. The Tourist route loops back to the city before then, but there will be many possible places there for refreshment.

Links to the walk directions, OS Map and GPS routes are on the Winchester Circular walk page. T=swc.15.a
10 0n this walk who set off in fine and sunny weather. The group quickly fragmented in Winchester's lovely ancient streets with one walker inadverently doing the walk in reverse (no names no pack drill). After climbing St Catherines Hill 4 of us decided to do the longer version of the walk in the mistaken belief (essentially mine) that this would takes us awy from the traffic noise. The trail was a bit overgrown and in many parts you are walking with 3m high hedges either side of you so no views at all. The short cut track to the main road in para 53 is now clearly marked as private and not a right of way but that did not stop me anarchist that I am.

8 of us met up at the excellent Bridge pub with one taking a bus from there before the rest of us set off on the return loop to Winchester with some lovely vistas along the way.
Five of us stopped at the wonderful Hospital and Church cafe where I had a sumptious moist and fluffy lemon curd confection and a pot of tea which provided 3 cups and all for just £4. (Went a bit Jay Rayner there.....). This walk is worth doing just for this
cafe alone. We ambled onward to Winchester lingering at a book stall and with a couple visiting the cathedral before catching a busy train back to London. Lovely excursion on a perfect early autumn day out although I noted with melancholy on the tube home the rapidly approaching dusk.

Hi guys, would have enjoyed coming on this walk but it's a very early start for a Sunday an 08:25 train! Any chance of having some walks that start later please? was a 09.35 train perfectly timed to get us to the lunch pub at an appropriate time....
Wed, 16-May-18 9

Wednesday Walk - Winchester Circular

Length: 17.7 km (11.0 mi) [longer walk possible, see below]
Ascent/Descent: 336 m; Net Walking Time: ca. 4 hours
Toughness: 4 out of 10
Take the 10.05 Weymouth train from Waterloo (10.12 CJ), arriving Winchester at 11.04
Return trains: plenty (from 61 mins)
“This walk takes in all of its major historical points of interest in the ancient city of Winchester, and some of its prettiest streets. It then carries on out along the idyllic River Itchen to St. Catherine’s Hill, the iron age hillfort, from where there are spectacular views of the city. From here the route crosses some typical Hampshire downland, before descending to a section of ancient water meadows and to a newly refurbished riverside pub for lunch.
In the afternoon, the walk again climbs up onto the downs, giving fine distant views of Winchester Cathedral, before descending to the ancient Hospital of St Cross, along the water meadows and past Winchester College to tea in the Cathedral refectory.
The walk directions pdf includes a detailed history of Winchester and the historic sights visited.”
A slightly longer walk is possible (map-led) by continuing south from Twyford Down further along the Pilgrim’s Trail to the junction with the Monarch’s Way, then west to Twyford and on to Shawford and lunch.
Lunch: The Bridge in Shawford (9.3 km/5.8 mi, food to 14.00, a Chef and Brewer pub).
Tea: The Hundred Men’s Hall Tea Room in St. Cross Hospital (open until 16.30), or Winchester Cathedral Refectory (open to 17.00) plus plenty of options in town en-route to the station (see the pdf).
For walk directions, map, height profile, photos and gpx/kml files click here.
9 on the walk today in initially sunny then overcast but always dry conditions. Nice little walk only hampered a wee bit by the motorway presence. Good mixture of historic buildings, chalk rivers and streams, pastures and chalk downs, plus a hillfort. 4 walked the map led extension, as suggested by the walk poster. This proved a success: mildly undulating terrain with shallow valleys dropping away to the right, quiet and along good paths, while passing a large war memorial for assorted London battalions based there during WWI and then an alternative pub.
3 of the main walk walkers then took either the train back from Shawford, or returned along the river, quoting evening appointments. The 6 others sped on and had time for tea and cake at the St. Cross Hospital. In a mercifully quiet courtyard in a historic building. When we sat down. Then a group of screaming school children turned up (with their mothers), and someone felt the need to mow the lawn just where we were sitting (that couldn't possibly wait until the cafe closed, obviously).
Anyway, more exposure to the lovely Itchen River followed. And then the 16.25 train.
Sun, 02-Oct-16 9

Sunday Second Walk: Historic Winchester & watermeadows

SWC Walk 15 Winchester Circular
Length: 18km (11.2 miles) Toughness: 4/10

09:35 Weymouth train from Waterloo (Clapham Junction 09:45) arriving at Winchester at 10:45.

Fast return trains are at xx:17 and xx:42 (journey time 1 hour 07 minutes) with a slightly slower service at xx:23

The route covers historical points of interest in Winchester, some beautiful watermeadows in the Itchen valley, and some fine stretches of downland including an iron age hillfort on St Catherine’s Hill. The recommended lunchstop is The Bridge (01962 713171) in Shawford.

Options for shortening the walk and detailed notes on features of interest are included in the Walk Directions.
Wow.....! Just checked return to Weymouth train tickets £63.10 !!! Is that correct? I have no travel card ... :(

To Winchester return is £34.60...... !! Yikes!!
A travelcard is worth it. I have a travelcard and can put other adults on it. But I'm not sure if I'm going on this walk yet, but if I do I can meet you early at the station before buying the ticket.
If you want to do that, plz give me your phone number and I'll text you around 8am if I'm going.
Too expensive for me.jfk
Six off the train, two met us en route early on in the walk and the walks inspector appeared at the lunch pub and accompanied us on the return leg so 9 in all. Weather was sunny but cool and this definitely felt like the first walk of autumn, confirmed by the line of mud on my trouser bottoms. We now start what the Russians call Rasputitsa the season of mud.
The morning leg began with a brisk climb up St Catherines Hill on paths stretches of which were slick after Saturdays rain. Excellent views of Winchester from the hill fort. There next followed a bit of a dull stretch along a narrow path fringing a golf links. You were often walking in a "green tunnel" of bushes seeing little or nothing of the surrounding countryside.
Most of us had sandwiches but had a drink at the Bridge before setting off on the excellent return leg the highlight of which was superb tea and cake at the Hospital and Church of St Cross which is now open on summer Sundays. We ambled along all weather paths through the water meadows into bustling Winchester there was a Hampshire Fair taking place on the Cathedral Green. An excellent early autumn day out enjoyed by all.

PS I will add a short comment on the walks page about a short stretch of the directions and gpx route before lunch.
Sat, 19-Dec-15 15

Saturday Second Walk - Ancient hillfort, cathedral city

SWC Walk 15 - Winchester Circular
Length: 17.7km (11 miles)
Toughness: 4 out of 10

9.35 (Weymouth-bound) train to Winchester, arriving 10.32

If you miss this, the 9.39 (Poole-bound) train is not tragic: it makes a few more stops (including Clapham Junction at 9.46) but still gets in at 10.48, giving you a good chance of catching the group up.

For walk directions click here.

This is a bit of a splurge choice (a day return to Winchester is £22.65 with a Network Card), but you get a lot for your money. First a walk through Winchester with its historic attractions (see walk document), then a climb up an ancient Celtic hillfort, a riverside walk, and then more historic attractions on the way back into Winchester. You land up in the Cathedral Close which has a Christmas market, and in general the town is cheerfully bedecked + has lots of tea options. All in all a jolly pre-Christmas outing.

It would be dishonest not to mention that this walk is also in close proximity to the M3 motorway at several points, but one notices this less in the winter somehow, and in the morning fine views compensate. How much traffic noise there is depends on wind direction: with a stiff westerly the afternoon should be fairly quiet. While mud is inevitable on winter walks, this one does have a reasonable number of sections on firm paths or tracks, in particular the afternoon curve back from Shawford to Winchester, which is quite solid underfoot as far as I recall.

The Bridge in Shawford, the lunchtime pub, is large and capacious (or was last time I looked) and so should have no problem fitting us in: but it would do no harm to phone from the station to reserve a table.

If you want to spend the afternoon seeing the sights in Winchester, there is an hourly train at 19 past the hour from Shawford station, almost adjacent to the pub, taking 5 minutes: if you plan to do this, buy a day return to Shawford which is the same price as a day return to Winchester.

Winchester Cathedral charges a hefty £7.50 admission fee, but if you slip in a bit before it closes at 5pm you might get a brief free view. If you do decide to pay for admission, see the end of the walk directions for a comprehensive walking tour of the cathedral's points of interest. There is also a Carol Service at 6.30pm, but this is ticketed and probably sold out by now.

The Cathedral Refectory (ie the tea room) also closes at 5pm, but there later options in the town. For pubs, you are spoilt for choice, but my recommendation is the Wykeham Arms, just before the end of the walk, where some of the tables are (or used to be) former Winchester College desks.

Trains back are at 18, 25, 48 and 56 past, the 18 and 48 being marginally quicker (1hr v 1hr 10 for the other two).
Given that Winchester is likely to be busy with Christmas shoppers, would it be better to do the countryside bit first and the bits around the town at the end of the walk?
We are talking about Winchester here. Cheerfully busy it may be but it is not Oxford Street. Besides, only 80 metres of the walk is along the high street and you have to do that both outbound and inbound.
15 on this walk, though all were never in the same place. Five came on the specified train, six on a slightly earlier train, two on a slightly later train, two by car (finding us only at lunch: a warning to car drivers!!). People joined the group, people got split off from the group. It was all a bit fluid.

Winchester was in very festive mode, the Christmas market filling the Cathedral Close and spilling into the High Street (or were there two rival Christmas markets?). The weather was bright rather than sunny high cloud, mainly and weirdly warm. The views from St Catherine's Hill proved as scenic as ever and the noise from the motorway was much more muted than I have ever known it, barely noticeable mostly. Nowhere was particularly muddy.

After lunch or even during it there was fragmentation. Several parties expressed their intention to shorten or even skip the afternoon to see more of Winchester. At least five of us did finish the walk, but in two groups. Disappointingly the Cathedral had closed at 3.30pm to prepare for the evening's carol concert (a piece of information left off their website), but everything looked very cheerful when we got back to town, with Christmas lights everywhere, and mulled wine, and kids skating on the rink despite it being covered with two centimetres of meltwater.

Three of us tried to find a pub for dinner, but Winchester is party town, and it was only after trying about ten places that we discovered a Weatherspoons that could squeeze us in.

All in all, I think all agreed, a happy cheerful pre Christmas Day out.
Wed, 08-Jul-15 5

Midweek day - Winchester Circular

Winchester Circular - a vist to VENTA BELGARVM

A historic Cathedral City, St Catherine's Hill and downland

Book 3* Walk 15

* Online only

Length : 16 km or 10 miles

Toughness : 4 out of 10

Getting there : Catch the 10:05 am train from London Waterloo to Winchester
(Departs 10:12 am from Clapham Junction)

Meeting point : Winchester Station at 11:04 am

Tickets : Buy a cheap day return to Winchester

Brief Description

This walk takes in all of its major historical points of interest in the ancient city of Winchester, and some of its prettiest streets. It then carries on out along the idyllic River Itchen to St. Catherines Hill, the iron age hillfort, from where there are spectacular views of the city. From here the route crosses some typical Hampshire downland, before descending to a section of ancient watermeadows and to a newly refurbished riverside pub for lunch.

You may find full details here and a downloadable PDF here

Suggested Lunch stops

The Bridge at Shawford tel 01962 713171. They have been getting busy at the weekends and turning away walking groups, so please do book on the morning!

Suggested Tea stops

The recommended Tea stop is the Winchester Cathedral Rectory however this does shut at five. It appears the Patsy Presto may have closed down, however Cafe Monde Café 22 The Square may be a suitable alternative. Being a largish town there are plenty of Pub Choices as well. These include the Wykeham Arms and The Vine Inn.


OS Explorer Leisure : 132

Return train times

Trains return from Winchester to Waterloo very frequently, however the slightly fast ones with no changes appear to depart at :18 and :48 minutes past the hour with a journey time of just over an hour.
Did this glorious walk again on saturday many butterflies and chalk downland flowers particularly noteworthy the strange brown broomrape co existing with the purple knapweed

Superb tea with home made cakes including gluten free option at Church of the Cross officially they close at 4.30, but served us a bit later than that half an hour from there to Cathedral
Link for broomrape knapweed which might work

Planning to do this walk. Do not like walking alone.
Intend going as I don't use the tube
Intend going.
5 in walk not phased by tube strike intending to get buses home from Wayerloo. Brilliant walk around Winchester. I'm with 4 handsome men inc Thomas, Colin, Peter and Chris Lamb. We loved the walk; it's very pretty the pub was smart, fantastic service and extensive cheap food. We had tea at the St Cross hospital in the garden with ginger cake amongst the roses and free mead for Travellers "Alms". Then Evensong in the Cathedral with Anthem by Stanford and fast train back to Waterloo. Couldn't have been a nicer day with visit to the Medieval hall and Replica of King Arthur's round table a highlight in the morning. A real walk through English history. Wonderful day ending with ruins of Wolvensey Hall and the Bishops residence. Then Evensong in the Cathedral with Anthem by Stanford and fast train back to Waterloo. Couldn't have been a nicer day with visit to the Medieval hall and Replica of King Arthur's round table in the morning. A real walk through English history with lessons from Peter Conway. What a fab writer he is. Thank You Peter take a bow. Marion
5 overcast start with some drizzle then clearing to cloudy with sunny spells

To add to Marion's comment: nice mixture of scenery and landscape on this walk, some fine vistas, very pleasant riverside stretches, and plenty of historic buildings and features, accompanied by lots of detailed and helpful background info in the write up. Excellent. 18.18 train for those two that did not visit the Cathedral at the end...
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