Tag Archives: Chilcomb

Winter walks

Winter scene, drover track near Alresford

How quickly the seasons change. Just two weeks ago I escaped lockdown for a long exercise session and ended up walking 42 km – this was not planned, I just kept going! – on a lovely winter’s day, complete with warm sunshine on hard frozen ground, snow underfoot in some places, quickly followed by dark clouds and flurries of snow, as well as a final period walking over the South Downs back into Winchester in the dark, having to watch my footing to avoid an ankle twist in the frozen ruts of the path. As I write, Spring has arrived and the first daffodils are about to burst open in my garden, lagging somewhat behind the more enthusiatic crocuses.

Nevertheless, I thought that I would share some pictures of that long day which was inspired not only by a burning urge to spend a long time outside, but also a marvellous BBC 4 series called Winter Walks. Five familiar faces take us on gentle walks over 30 minutes of relaxing and absorbing television, exploring landscapes in Yorkshire and Cumbria in a series of immersive and intimate documentaries. The series kicks-off with the Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, on a coastal walk to Robin Hood’s Bay. The others include broadcaster and campaigner Selina Scott, the Reverend Richard Coles, radio and TV presenter, late of 80’s band the Communards, politician Baroness Warsi, and author and broadcaster Lemm Sissay. These are perfect little programmes for watching over a tray supper. You can watch the series here on BBC iPlayer if you are in the UK, or, by using a VPN, you can spoof your location to the UK.

My walk exercised me hard and cleansed my mind. I didn’t look at a phone all day and just bathed in the beautiful countryside around Winchester. The route, if any of you are interested, was east along the south bank of the River Itchen towards the little village of Easton. Then on through Avington Park, on towards Ovington, turning to cross the Itchen near The Grange Vineyard. A long walk along old drover tracks took me to the part ruin of The Grange, former home of the Baring family with its Palladian portico for a lunch stop. Then out of the park, south towards Alresford, the source of the Itchen and the football field sized watercress beds. I continued southwards as the sun started to set towards the tiny village of Tichborne, famous for its ‘valueless Tichborne bonds‘. As Orion rose to my left I walked in the dark up to the South Downs Way, crossing through rich farmland towards Cheesefoot Head, and thence through lovely little Chilcomb and then home.

Perhaps you have stories to tell of your own winter walks wherever you are in the world?