St Catherines Hill from Winchester

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View from St Catherine's Hill © Andy Oakes
Winchester Cathedral © Andy Oakes
Beside the Itchen Navigation © Andy Oakes

A delightful walk from Winchester Cathedral to the spectacular viewpoint of St Catherine's Hill, via the hospital of St Cross and the river Itchen. An ideal walk for families.

Start outside Winchester Cathedral, at the west door. Leaving the Cathedral entrance head south, down the cloister, then turn to the right through The Close, passing the Pilgrim's School. From here, exit through Priory Gate, turning left under the 14th century King's Gate, into College Street. Turn left down College Street (signed to Wolvesey Castle) and then right along College Walk to where it bends sharply to the left.

At this point leave the road on a track to the right and after a short distance go left through a gate. Follow the path by the River Itchen, past the College playing fields until you meet a road. Go through the gate and cross over, picking up the gravel path opposite.

1. This path now heads towards the church and hospital of St Cross - dating from the 12th century - where refreshments are available in the summer from the tearooms. Keeping to the path, head through the trees to cross a stile, joining a gravel path. Follow this via further stiles to a gated section of road that is now traffic free. Continue along the road crossing the River Itchen almost to the M3, where several paths converge.

2. Head left alongside the Itchen Navigation - a section of the Itchen that was created in the 17th Century to be used as a canal for cargo barges until you come to a gate on your right towards St Catherine's Hill. Go through the gate, taking the path shortly afterwards off to the left and head to the top of the hill.

3. Having enjoyed the extensive views, take time to visit the beach copse on the summit, where the chapel of St Catherine stood and also explore the mizmaze, a turf-cut maze dating from the 17th century. From the mizmaze, pick up the path just beyond the mizmaze information board, following the path and steps down through trees to emerge in a small car park, rejoining the path by the Itchen Navigation.

Cross over the road and follow the broad path (part of the Pilgrim's Trail which runs all the way to Mont St Michel in France) with the Itchen Navigation on your left. This path then joins a minor road, at the top of which you turn left, leading you back along a quiet road to College Walk.

Turn right up College Walk and re-trace your steps down College Street, through King's Gate and Priory Gate and down The Close back to the Cathedral. There are plenty of opportunities for refreshment in Winchester City centre!

Winchester Cathedral

Winchester Cathedral dates back to 1079, when construction was first started. The crypt dates from that time, with the rest of the cathedral having been completed in the 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. Restoration was necessary in the early 20th century, when the cathedral was found to be sinking. William Walker, a diver, is credited with saving the cathedral by packing the water-logged foundations with concrete, finally completing this work in 1912. Today the cathedral is a very popular tourist attraction, not least of which because of its association with Jane Austen, who is buried there.

St Catherine's Hill

St Catherine's Hill is named after the 12th century Chapel of St Catherine - the site of which is within the beech woods on the summit. In addition to offering extensive views over Winchester, the hill also features a mizmaze. This turf-cut maze is believed to date from the 17th century and is over 600 metres long.

Trail Location

Parking is available in Winchester City centre, with easy access from the M3. Winchester is easily accessible by train from London Waterloo and there is also a Park and Ride scheme.

Calories

Assuming a constant pace and no stops, typically it will take 1 hour 21 minutes to walk the distance and along the way 365 calories will be burnt.

Bird's Eye View

Comments

Vanessa Loughlin
Wed 11 Apr 2012, 18:17

I took my 12 and 10 year old sons on this trail today - a mild spring day in April. It was a lovely walk with peaceful paths by the river, bird song and sightings, a good romp up St Catherine's Hill and the surprise of the mizimaze right at the top. We took a picnic and ate overlooking Winchester and traced our route past the historic buildings. You do most of the trail walking towards the hill so it worked well with the boys as it only took 20 mins back to the city centre.

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