If you trail run or cycle regularly in the South of England then at some point you will end up at Winchester via trails including the South Downs Way and King Alfred’s Way. The town sees the start of Centurion Running’s blue ribband 100 mile race and Threshold Running’s Race to the King. It also is the finish line for the excellent Clarendon Marathon that links Winchester to Salisbury. My route links bits and pieces of these, and the histories that they tell, but is necessarily more direct in order to meet my 62 day schedule and to give us time in the day to soak in the historical and cultural significance of Winchester with a city walk at mile 19.
In so doing I’ll be walking in John Keat’s footsteps. He was moved to write his masterpiece ode To Autumn afterwards.
The walk also takes in the Cathedral surrounds and the burial place of kings including Canute and William II who was shot whilst hunting in the New Forest – the National Park where I will overnight.
Winchester will also provide the backdrop to the debate: Which King A is the most inspiring, the mythical Arthur, whose Round Table is found in the Great Hall or Alfred, the warrior of Wessex, who battled the Danes.
A whisle stop tour of artisitic Stockbridge and nearby Houghton Lodge, and, very possibly Isla’s Bar at the Little Whisky Shop there, before heading to overnight at The Horton Inn, New Forest.
South Downs Way – National Trail
King Arthur’s Round Table
King Alfred’s Statue
Houghton Lodge Gardens
The New Forest National Park
Dress Code: Saxon tunic
Fuel: Burnt Cakes