Autumn Walks and Rides in Winchester is always a beautiful experience, especially in the autumn glow. We asked our Heritage and Culture Ambassadors about seasonal walks around the city.
Madelaine Smith, a local arts and heritage consultant, tells how to follow in the footsteps of romantic English poet John Keats.
“Winchester in autumn has always been a glorious time of year; John Keats portrayed this in his ode To Autumn. The opening line of the poem ‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’, one of the best known lines of English poetry, conjures up wonderful images and captures the movement from summer to winter. Inspired by walks he took around Winchester during his visit in 1819 Keats has encapsulated the turning seasons in this city nestling in a valley. Keats’ Walk along through the water meadows to St Cross can still be enjoyed today giving walkers, local people and visitors to the area, an opportunity be inspired by a beautiful unspoilt landscape.”
You can pick up a copy of the self-guided Keats’ Walk trail from the Visitor Information Centre or download it here. The round trip is approximately two miles on pavements and paths and is great for little legs and older ones too.
Aisha Al-Sadie a Learning and Heritage Officer and Charlotte Walker-Watts a Visitor Experience Manager both work at Winchester Cathedral. Here they share an autumn lunchtime walk…
“Whether you are popping out for a quick lunchtime walk with a colleague, going for a solitary mindful walk, or going on a short adventure with little ones, Winchester has lots to see and do to get you in the autumnal mood.
We felt that it was very important to have something to keep us warm on our walk, so our first stop was to get ourselves a seasonal coffee. This can be spiced with seasonal pumpkin flavourings, if that is your preference, it’s certainly ours! Chatting and sipping our drinks we walked along the High Street and had a look at the stalls in the market selling beautiful blankets, scarves, coats and yummy treats. There are lots of places to grab hot pasties and sausage rolls as well as cakes and sandwiches along this route.
Now burdened with a range of tasty things we staggered on towards the Winchester Visitor Centre. It is always worth popping in here to find out what is going on in the city, especially at key points of the year. We then paused in the beautiful Abbey Gardens to look at the rosehips and the trees which are bursting with autumnal colours.
Carrying on past the Winchester Mill we walked along the river collecting fallen leaves and conkers with the idea that we would use for crafts at home, though in reality it is just fun to do. Following the old city walls towards Winchester College we looked longingly in the window of P.G. Wells and Cornflowers, who both had wonderful seasonal displays, and then through Prior’s Gate into the Cathedral Close.
Unable to resist the temptation of the Second-hand Bookshop in the Deanery, we picked up something to read for the next stop of our journey, the Dean Gardiner Garden. A popular but secluded spot, this beautiful formal garden gives a fantastic view of the Cathedral while you eat your lunch or take some time to read a book. Making sure to finish all our food and drink first, we went into the Cathedral. All tickets to the Cathedral last a year, so you can pop in as many times as you like, even for a short time for a bit of mindfulness during your lunch break or after work. After ten minutes or so sitting in the Nave and watching people come and go, we headed back to our offices, refreshed after embracing the wind on a chilly autumn afternoon and yet warmed by our time spent together away from our desks (and by the coffee!).”
We asked our Wellness Ambassador, Heather Evans of Bespoke Biking for the best local family cycle route for autumn colour.
“I’d recommend the NCN (National Cycle Network) 23 route from park & ride south or east, along the cycle path past the Handlebar Cafe, then through the water meadows. Follow through town passing the cathedral and or the river, then out to River Park. (North Walls) you can ride on through the park out to Abbotts Barton where there’s a great play area. Then ride back to the park and ride.”
The Winchester Ambassadors are a group of volunteers who enjoy sharing their passion for their city. They were assembled to provide visitors with a local’s view of the city and its attractions. Their thoughts, insights and tips are independent and are not paid for. The Winchester Ambassadors are not affiliated with any of the brands or businesses mentioned in their posts or endorsed by Winchester City Council.