It was still raining when we left the cafe but we both agreed to keep going. We really couldn’t get much wetter after all. We passed the pretty little cottages of Shawford and chose the road beside the railway viaduct rather than the overgrown trail. Barely able to see through the rain, I left the road a little too early and took the narrow muddy trail rather than going through the gate a little further on. It wasn’t a major problem and added zero distance but it showed how easy it is to become confused in bad weather.
We’d made it to Kiln Lane without getting stung, which felt a little like a miracle. We’d got across three bank breaches, one that had left me with wet feet, and had climbed over one fallen tree. According to Commando, there was at least one more fallen tree and, possibly, one more bad bank breach somewhere along the eight and a half miles between Kiln Lane and home. If I was a betting woman, I’d have put my money on it being on the next stretch of towpath. Continue reading Alpacas, ostriches and surprisingly easy walking
My May 2014 quest to walk the whole Itchen Navigation from Winchester to Northam continued. Every time I came to a road I seemed to hit another problem and be left dithering. Highbridge Road was no exception. I looked at the sign pinned to the post and every section of the rest of the route had red lines and black crosses to say they were closed. The words ‘unsafe for use by the public’ didn’t sound good. I looked up the road towards Allbrook Hill, remembering all those Moonwalk training walks when I’d climbed it and how tough it had felt. Then I looked along the Navigation trail, the path looked dry and inviting but then so had the Brambridge end of Allbrook. Continue reading Allbrook to Bishopstoke fallen trees and lost dignity – first published 8 May 2014
My last walk of 2013 and I’d reached the final stretch of the Itchen Navigation before the new bridge at Withymead. There were bank breaches and I wasn’t sure whether to continue or not. I did dither for a moment or two trying to decide whether to go on or take the road route to Eastleigh. It didn’t seem all that sensible to go off down a muddy trail at almost half past two with a good three and a half miles of mostly unknown territory ahead and the prospect of darkness in the next hour or two. Then again, I’m not known for being sensible at the best of times and I really did want to see the new bridge… Continue reading withymead bridge at last – first published 28 December 2013
We’d reached Bishopstoke and the more scenic part of the Itchen Navigation without incident. Well, apart from the circus, a koi carp in the Itchen and some slightly scary cows behind a flimsy fence. CJ seemed to be holding up well, despite Commando’s misgivings. It took a while to get across the road, it always does, but soon we were on the other side of Stoke Bridge looking at a much wider, tarmacked path. Continue reading Breaking new ground
Some days you start out full of brilliant plans but things conspire against you. At the end of June 2013 my plan was to walk the Itchen Navigation all the way to Winchester and then get the train home. That would give me a nice off road walk. There was even a little bit of research and a map downloaded in case I got lost (not that I’m well known for getting lost or anything) and I set out full of excitement for the walk ahead. Continue reading broken bridges and a shattered dream – first published 30 June 2013
The first time I walked the stretch of the Itchen Navigation between Bishopstoke and Allbrook it ended in disappointment. A bridge had been stolen, or vandalised and I had to turn back. It would be a long time before I could walk the whole way but it was well worth the wait. Where the Southampton Eastleigh section is unkempt and overgrown this is well maintained and, as a bonus there are some lovely houses to look at. All in all it was far too tempting to bypass for the sake of a coffee so I crossed the road and set off beside the river. Continue reading More bridges, seats, a little garden envy and warning signs
Eventually I dragged myself away from my seat overlooking the Itchen Valley and, humming to myself, set off along the lane towards Church Fields. There were sheep grazing on the Water Farm fields. At this point I had a choice of route, down the winding lane to Shawford and onto the Navigation, or across the road and through the southern part of Twyford Village. The Navigation was tempting, mostly because it meant avoiding the horrors of a mile and a bit of footpathless Highbridge Road with cars zooming past at fifty plus miles an hour. The Navigation, on the other hand, would have mud and breached banks. The section between Otterbourne and Allbrook was almost impassable on my last visit. Taking that option could well mean having to turn back. Continue reading Homeward bound