Stage 2: Allbrook to Kings Worthy — Itchen Way
Kit P planned a hike.
January 20, 2021
This wonderful hike is considerably more rural than stage 1 and winds through vibrant woodlands with lush fields on either side. Little villages, old lock gates and chalk grassland are gorgeous additions to this serene trail.
Starting on the edge of Allbrook, admire the old lock before heading off north up the Itchen Navigation. Not technically the river, the navigation is the name for a disused canal which is part of the main river. A once-vital trade route from Winchester, the canal is now cloaked in languishing trees and home to much wildlife.
The section includes plenty of picturesque, old lock gates and you’ll meet the river often on its lazy meanders. I’ve added in a brief, optional detour to Shawford Down a little way into the hike. This beautiful chalk grassland is a fantastic place to visit in summer when it’s buzzing in insects, butterflies and birds. The trail crosses over the old canal at Shawford and heads up to greet the river at Tumbling Bay.
Follow the Itchen Navigation due north to reach St Catherine’s Hill. The Way wends around the base but I recommended hiking to the top for outstanding views of the ancient cathedral city of Winchester. The hill itself is an Iron Age hillfort and has a grand copse at the summit.
The trail then takes you through the very heart of Winchester, a fantastically beautiful city and a perfect place for lunch, be it in a cafe or a picnic by the cathedral. There’s more than enough in Winchester to fill a whole week but we’re here for the Itchen. The Way wanders out past ancient city walls and alongside Winnal Moors Nature Reserve.
The trail heads across the Itchen floodplain at Kings Worthy and if you’re lucky, you might well see herons on the banks and kites in the air. A series of footbridges takes you to the northern bank where this Tour ends.
Kings Worthy has a small choice of accommodation but you can also catch the Spring bus (that’s its name, I don’t mean that it only operates during the spring!) back into Winchester for endless options and excellent dining choices. If you’re leaving the Way here, return to Winchester for mainline train services.