Length: 26.0 km (16.2 mi) [shorter walk possible, see below]
Net Walking Time: 6 hours
Toughness: 7 out of 10
Take the 08.35 Weymouth train from Waterloo (CJ 08.44, Woking 09.04), arrives Winchester 09.41.
From the finish you need to take a bus back to Winchester: Line 67 Petersfield – Winchester (West Meon 16.53, Hinton Ampner 17.04, arrives Winchester 17.41).
Return trains: into Paddington via Reading (faster: 75 mins) at 18.03, 18.36, 19.36…, into Waterloo (slower: 105 mins) at 17.48, 18.18, 18.48, 19.18…Buy a Winchester return.
First posting of this (map-led) South Downs challenge.
The route leads through the centre of the historic Cathedral City and across the Itchen River up to the westerly end of the South Downs: the first tops are Telegraph Hill and the lovingly named Cheesefoot Head, then progress through Temple Valley and Gander Down to early lunch at a (basic) pub in Beauworth. After that it’s not long to Beacon Hill (one of the many), followed by a descent to Exton village for the late lunch option, and then to turn north east for a slight re-ascent along a dismantled railway line and a final drop into the Meon Valley for the bus back to Winchester.
There is only one realistic bus back (but also a pub open all afternoon to while away the time in), so if unexpectedly running late against schedule, two shortcuts are possible
, either to Hinton Ampner (turnoff after 15.7 km), or on a more direct route to West Meon (turnoff after 18.4 km), check out the route map here
Missed that bus? You have to take the same bus line in the other direction to Petersfield (Hinton Ampner 18.28, West Meon 18.41). Petersfield is on a different train line, though…!
: The Milbury's
(food to 14.30) in Beauworth
(14.7 km/9.1 mi) or The Shoe Inn
in Exton (20.7 km/12.9 mi, food to 15.00, so doable, unless the gpx file on our site understates the ascent en route dramatically). Tea
: The Thomas Lord
in West Meon
or The Hinton Arms
in Hinton Ampner
and plenty of options in Winchester
, height profile
and gpx/kml files