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
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
, 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
past, the 18
being marginally quicker (1hr v 1hr 10 for the other two).