Saturday, 2 May 2009

Abbotstone to the edge of Winchester (Three Castles Path 8)


With the end of the Three Castles Path in sight we decided to push on and do the penultimate stage from Abbotstone to Easton and most of the final stage, to reach the edge of Winchester. That way we would be able to complete the walk and have a good look at Winchester for the finale.

You leave Abbotstone on a hedged track which leads up to Itchen Stoke down. Lots of male and female Brimstones on the wing along here. A narrower version of the same track leads down to the B3047 and Itchen Abbas. St John's church is a Victorian version of the Norman churches which have predominated on this walk. Pevsner says that the doorway is a re-set genuine Norman one.

From here the route soon comes in view of the fast-flowing river Itchen, which we follow for the rest of the way.

At Martyr Worthy you pass St. Swithun's church with its late Norman nave and characteristic door arch. The bell tower however dates from 1871.

You soon cross the Itchen, and we spotted some rich clumps of marsh marigolds on the far side.

A couple of fields lead into the pretty village of Easton, where every house seems to be half-timbered and thatched.

And here is another Norman church - St Mary. This one dates from the 12th century, although there are some 19th century restorations.

From here you follow the Itchen across fields and under the M3 and A33, then through woodland to eventually emerge in Winchester at the First in - Last out pub.

From: The Three Castles Path by David Bounds for the East Berkshire Ramblers’ Association Group. Stages 14-15.

Map: 132 (Winchester, New Alresford and East Meon).

Rating: four stars. More variety than recent stages, interesting villages and the delightful river.


In the final section of the walk, just passing through a gateway into a field, I saw what seemed to be a Speckled Wood, but smaller and with slightly more contrasting colours. Subsequent study of my butterfly books revealed it to be a Duke of Burgundy. A first.

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