Christmas is all about indulgence – mince pies, mulled wine and cosying up with a festive movie. But make sure you find time to wrap up warm and go out for a winter walk to enjoy some of Winchester district’s much-loved wintry views.
Here are some guided walks and tours taking in beautiful locations, and informative festive talks, complete with tipples.
From 17 November to 21 December, Walsh Tours are hosting Christmas Mulled Wine Walks. Meeting at the Westgate, hear stories of Winchester and Christmas traditions as you discover the city centre with a glass of mulled wine or hot chocolate from the Old Vine pub. The final stop is Winchester Cathedral, where you’ll be able to pick up some festive goodies at the Christmas Market.
To see a very festive Winchester and surrounding county from merrily on high. Book a Tower Tour at Wincheseter Cathedral (included in admission price). Climb the spiral steps to the roof and ringing chamber, see the cathedral bells and walk the length of the nave roof with its huge wooden beams. Tours run Monday – Saturday 10am – 3pm throughout the day (subject to guide availability).
If you’re a fan of Jane Austen, visit Chawton House on 16 December – Jane Austen’s Birthday for a very special tour and get an exclusive glimpse behind the scenes as Jane Austen’s House wakes up for the day.
While on 6 December, Winchester Area Tour Guides will take you on a guided tour of Abbey House – the Mayor’s official residence – delving in to its history, before a glass of mulled wine and mince pies with the Mayor.
Alternatively, if you simply want fresh air and a catch up with friends and family, there are lots of suggestions for city-centric walks here. Including the romantic Sunset Walk which gives you a bird’s eye view of the city from St Giles Hill, or stroll around the centre towards the water meadows and follow the trail poet John Keats enjoyed each day when he stayed in Winchester in 1819, or learn about the city’s military or royal past as you wander. Trail maps are available from Winchester Visitor Information Centre or they can be downloaded and several can be followed digitally on your mobile.
Why not take some time out of the city to explore the rest of the district? There are routes to take in and around Alresford. Follow trails that introduce you to the market town’s history, wildlife and heritage railway line, and connect to longer distance walks, which take in the home of Jane Austen, and where the battle of Cheriton (a major turning point in the English Civil War) took place. Head out to Wickham for walks which take in some of the county’s most historically important churches and discover woodland ideal for the whole family in the heart of the Meon Valley – the gateway to the South Downs National Park. Visit Bishop’s Waltham for the Palace ruins, enjoy a local nature reserve, or join a 155-mile medieval route following in the footsteps of pilgrims who journeyed to Normandy, France to worship.
Finally, if you’re prepared to wrap up warm for an even bigger adventure, why not try to complete a stretch of the 100-mile long South Downs Way, which stretches from Winchester to the white cliffs of Eastbourne. Explore rolling hills, river valleys, ancient woodland, and listed buildings.