Blue Ball Hill and the Blue Boar

5 August 2018

Commando is pacing the Winchester Half Marathon again this year and this morning was the first of the pacers training runs. Although it meant getting up earlier than I’d have liked, it’s hard to resist a couple of hours wandering around Winchester on my own so I decided to go along. We arrived at the Colebrook Street Car Park just after eight and, after synchronising our watches and a little chat with the other pacers, I set off onto the empty Winchester streets. Continue reading Blue Ball Hill and the Blue Boar

A reconnaissance mission

13 June 2018

Last summer the Spitfires had a Summer Challenge run from Winchester to Woolston on the Itchen Navigation. John asked me if I’d lead a walking group, as there were a few people who didn’t feel up to running the fifteen miles but didn’t want to miss out. Obviously I jumped at the chance and we all had a tough, but amazing day. In fact, it was such a success John decided to do it all again this year. On Sunday, Commando and the fast boys went on a reconnaissance mission. Today, CJ and I did the same.  Continue reading A reconnaissance mission

Winnall Moors, a missing Pond and some nettles

3 September 2017

The Winchester Half Marathon route is particularly hilly. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem for Commando but these are not normal times by any stretch of the imagination. He wasn’t satisfied with his performance at the last pacer’s training run. Worried he was going to let down the people who’d be running with him hoping for a PB he decided to give it one more try on his own. This meant another chance for me to wander around Winchester on a Sunday morning.  Continue reading Winnall Moors, a missing Pond and some nettles

The Spitfire Summer Challenge, Winchester to Woolston

11 June 2017

So far there have been no proper walks this month. The most I’ve done is trot up and down to the village, walk around town or stand on the sidelines at the RR10. Today was going to be all about walking though. Some time ago John mentioned he was thinking about a Summer Spitfire 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 Spitfire Summer Challenge, Winchester to Woolston

Winchester, trying for the whole Navigation – first published 3 May 2014

The first walk of May 2014 and I was all in a dither. Originally I planned to attempt the whole Itchen Navigation, starting in Winchester and walking right to Northam where the original wharf had been. The non stop rain, Southampton Central Station being closed for line repairs at weekends and the knowledge that there were trees across the path at Withymead made me wonder if I should think of another route. Continue reading Winchester, trying for the whole Navigation – first published 3 May 2014

Where are the songs of spring?

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3 November 2016

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?

Winchester walking, ice and mud – first published 29 December 2013

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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

Walking The Weirs with new eyes and dithering

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29 May 2016

Standing at the bottom of Wharf Hill, I toyed with the idea of heading towards the Itchen Navigation. Only days before I’d walked it with CJ though and, beautiful as it is, it didn’t seem the best use of my time. Besides, I wouldn’t get very far before I had to turn back even if I marched my fastest. The morning was getting warm and slightly muggy so dawdling was the order of the day. Instead I headed towards Wharf Mill, or Seagrams Mill as it’s also known, once the main grain mill in the city. Sadly this is not the original Wharf Mill, built in around 1205. The modern building was constructed on the site of the old in 1885 and these days it’s no longer a mill. Like so much else it’s been turned into luxury appartments. Continue reading Walking The Weirs with new eyes and dithering

The final miles

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24 May 2016

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

Winchester with the expert – first published 11 September 2013 quote

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Of course, the twelve mile marker wasn’t the final piece of my September 2013 mother and daughter walk at all. We still had to walk to the wharf and from there to the centre of Winchester to catch the train home. Finding the train station has always been an issue for me in the past. In fact, finding anything in Winchester is a problem. This time I had an expert with me. Continue reading Winchester with the expert – first published 11 September 2013 quote