So far there have been no proper walks this month. The most I’ve done is trot up and down to the village or walk around town. Today was going to be all about walking though. Some time ago John mentioned he was thinking about a Summer Challenge, a run from Winchester to Woolston. The Itchen Navigation would make up the majority of the route and he knew I had walked it many times. He asked if I’d lead a walking group for those who were recovering from injury or felt fifteen miles or more was a run too far. When I agreed it seemed like an easy distance. Now, with my fitness compromised by laziness, I wasn’t so sure. Continue reading The Summer Challenge, Winchester to Woolston
The beginning of May 2013 and, in time honoured tradition, I stood on Tun Bridge looking down at the water wondering what to do. I couldn’t really see the authentic barge man’s path so I was none the wiser and I left the bridge making towards the car park to St Catherine’s Hill still undecided. As luck would have it, as I passed the Footpath sign I saw a man disappearing along the waterside trail. Maybe he knew something I didn’t? Then again, he may have been just about to run into trouble. Either way it made up my mind, I’d take my chances with the barge man’s path. Continue reading Shawford bound, the easy bit… – first published 3 May 2014
When Keats wrote to his brother and sister in law of his daily Winchester walks he ended at ‘the most beautifully clear river,’ the Itchen, probably where it crosses Five Bridges Road. In his letter he said, ‘now this is only one mile of my walk I will spare you the other two till after supper when they would do you more good,‘ but he never mentioned it again. Even so, it stood to reason he hadn’t just turned around and walked back the way he came and I had a good idea of the route he would have taken. The clues were all there in the final verse of his ode To Autumn. Continue reading Where are the songs of spring?
Early in December 2013 Pete, who runs Care For a Walk, happened to mention he’d walked the Itchen Navigation and there was a new, metal bridge at Withymead. Of course that meant I could, in theory, walk the whole Navigation. I say in theory because, in December, the chances were the stretch from the White Swan to Eastleigh would be too boggy to walk at all, if not actually flooded. Of course I was itching to go and have a look but, with the last fraught weeks at work and Christmas, I hadn’t found the time. Once Christmas and my job were behind me though I finally had my chance. Continue reading Winchester walking, ice and mud – first published 29 December 2013
So there we were on the Itchen Navigation somewhere between Shawford and Compton Lock with a bull blocking the path ahead. Just as we were about to turn around and walk back to Shawford to catch the train home the bull took a few steps, reaching for some more succulent leaves. Suddenly there was a gap between his huge posterior and the edge of the path. It wasn’t the widest gap and, being mostly filled by bull, it looked a little dicey but it was now or never.
I turned to CJ and said, “let’s go. Quickly but don’t run.” Continue reading The final miles
My first attempt at walking the whole Itchen Navigation could easily have ended in Shawford. It was a hot July day and, even after a rest and a cool drink in the pub, I was feeling tired and overheated. Dithering as usual I’d left the pub and, after a little look at Victor’s famous bridge and a long look at the station that could so easily take me home I turned, quite reluctantly to the Navigation. The path ran through a cutway beside the pub. The sign said Winchester three miles, that didn’t sound so bad, not much more than the walk to work. Continue reading Shawford to Winchester, not so simple – first published 16 July 2013
It started with a bus. The bus was late due to the roadworks on the bridge. It crawled along but it got me there in the end. Then there was a train. The train was delayed due to signalling problems at Woking. It arrived at the wrong platform, necessitating a mad dash up the stairs and down the stairs but I got there in the end. Good job I’m intimately acquainted with Southampton Central station so I knew where to go. I’m pretty sure a few people missed it. At least I’d had time to grab a coffee from the station cafe beforehand. Continue reading Winchester, an exercise in not getting lost
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