Long distance walking routes
The outskirts of the city very quickly open out onto the South Downs National Park and a number of long-distance walking paths with plenty of welcoming hostelries along the way.
St Swithun's Way (9, 21 or 34 miles)
Put on your walking shoes and follow in the footsteps of the many pilgrims who paid homage to St Swithun on the St Swithun's Way. Opened in 2002, the 34-mile trail starts at Winchester Cathedral and weaves its way through the picturesque Itchen Valley, taking in pretty rural villages before it ends in historic Farnham. Take time en route to look at the numerous churches with pilgrimage connections and relax beside peaceful water meadows and streams. From Farnham you can join the North Downs Way and continue on all the way to Canterbury Cathedral.
The Clarendon Way (24 miles)
The walk joins the two Wessex cities of Winchester and Salisbury and crosses the Test Valley between Kings Somborne and Houghton. It starts beside the waters of the Itchen in the heart of Winchester and ends near the Avon at Salisbury Cathedral. The varied scenery along the route ranges from the water meadows of the valleys through woodland - ancient as well as modern - to downlands with far-ranging views.
The Itchen Way (27 Miles)
Journey from the Solent at Southampton up the Itchen Valley to the source of the river at Hinton Ampner. The route passes Eastleigh and Shawford and then into Winchester, starting the final part of the Clarendon Way from St Cross to the city centre. From here walkers follow the course of another long distance walk, The Three Castles Path, which leads on to Windsor.
Pilgrims' Trail (11 or 28 miles)
Embark on a journey of discovery along this ancient route. Running between Winchester and Portsmouth via Bishop's Waltham, it forms part of a longer-distance trail, St Michael's way, which carries on to Mont Saint Michel in Normandy. Highlights include the fantastic vistas from St Catherine's Hill, a rest at Owlesbury - Hampshire's highest village - and Southwick, renowned for its role in the D-Day landings in June 1944. The entire walk is 28 miles but this can be broken into smaller sections.
Wayfarers' Walk (72 miles)
More beautiful countryside is on offer on the Wayfarers' Walk, following some of the old tracks used by shepherds driving their animals to sheep fairs in Farnham and New Alresford. This countryside was also the inspiration for Richard Adams' best-selling book Watership Down. Follow in the tracks of Hazel, Fiver, Bigwig and companions along the footpaths soaking up a landscape rich in its wildlife and history. For something more manageable, walk any one of the five circular walks (between four and six miles long) sign-posted from the main route.
South Downs way (99 miles)
Wander along the rolling chalk downs of Sussex and Hampshire on the South Downs Way. The route - which starts in Winchester and ends in Eastbourne - follows prehistoric droveways that have been in use for some 5,000 years, and was an important trade route in the Bronze Age. Along the route highlights include Devil's Dyke (the deepest dry valley in the world), the Meon villages of flint and stone and Old Winchester Hill, an Iron Age hill fort and National Nature Reserve.