An immensely popular, 102 mile national trail, that takes you from Winchester in Hampshire to Eastbourne in East Sussex, via the most stunning countryside that the UK has to offer.
We took a three-day cycle on mountain bikes (with front suspension), though the route is suitable for any bike. A mixture of flat country-lanes and more difficult mountain slopes takes in a route used by traders for centuries. If the water-taps along the way do not suit your tastes, there are a number of rider-friendly pubs. Likewise, there are at least six bed and breakfast's for you to choose from before you finish at Beachy Head, which overlooks the English Channel.
The walk John Keats took when he was inspired to write his ode "To Autumn".
What better time than now to follow the route Keats took one autumn Sunday in 1819? You start out in the High Street where he lodged and end up at the Hospital of St. Cross which still doles out alms to the needy. It not only takes in many of Winchester's places of interest: the Cathedral (burial place of Jane Austen), Wolvesey Palace, Winchester College - but also passes along the beautiful banks of the River Itchen, which Keats described as "most beautifully clear". He also described the air as "worth sixpence a pint" - not sure how that rates after inflation!
It is a beautiful Christmas market full of great gifts. It also has an outdoor ice rink and food stalls so you really feel like you have entered into the Christmas spirit right next to the beautiful Winchester Cathedral.
1 The Close, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 9LS
Google map: bit.ly/dI0e8I
The Chesil Rectory is a beautiful restaurant in the lovely centre of Winchester. Although the prices put it in the "special occasion" category, the menu is incredibly well put together and the food tasty and locally sourced. The restaurant itself is in an old tudor building.
Beautifully restored Victorian guest house, reasonable prices, nice pets. Visit Winchester as an excuse to stay there. It's 10 minutes' walk into the centre of town.
50, Christchurch Rd
An excellent Indian restaurant which has unusual dishes on its menu as well as all the usual favourites. Presentation and service are top notch and the decor is contemporary and stylish - no flock wallpaper here!
Nearest station: Winchester is five minutes walk away
Address is: 1-3 City Road
Winchester SO23 8SD
T. 01962 868 352
Just outside of Winchester - great family pub with loads of parking and garden with trampolines for the kids.
The fish and chips Tuesdays are a really good deal and Sunday lunches are the best.
La Place is a restaurant and bar in central Winchester near the Cathedral and City Museum. It is a short walk from the high street and central parking.
The restaurant upstairs is spacious and has a French ambience, while the à la carte menu also introduces an international flavour.
Froggies bar at street level is an ideal rendezvous for a glass of wine or coffee, and also serves lunch and specials, with the signature bar planches.
The bar and restaurant takes reservations for private dining and festive functions, and Froggies is always open for 11am daily.
9 Great Minster Street
This is a modern British restaurant near the river in Winchester. Its a converted pub with bare brick, wooden tables and a large fireplace. The food can be very traditional brought up-to-date, or things you don't find on menus often like wood pigeon and lamb sweetbreads. It has a nice atmosphere and looked popular with business people too.
And it's worth booking as it is very popular.
88 Chesil Street, Winchester, Hampshire.
Phone: 01962 844465
A footpath leading up to a large hill that overlooks the city and has a mizmaze on top of it.
St Catherine’s Hill Wildlife Reserve
OS Map no. 185
Grid reference: SU 484 276
+44 (0) 1489 774400
Info from my visit there is on my website at www.reeves-hall.net/kids-outings/winchester-mizmaze/
Winchester is surprisingly short of good quality eateries, considering the affluence of the area. Monde is the best place to get your breakfast requirements attended to. Squeezed into several floors of a small building, it serves cooked breakfasts, sandwiches and cakes in addition to teas, coffees and juices.
On a sunny weekend morning you'll spot groups of people loitering nearby, ready to pounce on an outside table as soon as it is vacated. With the cathedral grounds a croissant's throw away, it's a great place to while away the morning or to lay plans for an assault on the nearby shops.
The Square, Winchester.
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