- Cheriton Circuit: 8 December 2021
- Walk Leader: Val Wood (Programme Organiser)
- Distance: 10 Miles
- Start: 09:45 Cheriton Recreation Ground CP, GR: SU 580 284
After a day of wild weather and torrential rain on Tuesday, I did wonder at the wisdom of sticking to the planned Cheriton walk. Indeed, when doing the recce for it the previous week, three of us had found it fairly muddy and sIippery in parts. Overall ‘though we felt it was a route worth doing. Thankfully the weather forecast for Wednesday promised no rain and even some sunshine; happily it was correct, and with some modifications and shortening the length of the walk our decision to go ahead was justified!
Five intrepid members started off around 9.50am in Cheriton, a really delightful village just off the A272 and close to the source of the river Itchen in the meadows opposite the entrance to Hinton Ampner. One of the south’s precious chalk streams, it flows north, then west and south for about 45kms through Winchester and Eastleigh before joining Southampton Water at Woolston. Our route inevitably crossed it more than once.
On leaving behind the recreation ground and its obviously popular hard tennis courts, we walk west through the hamlet of Hill Houses with their residences, as the name suggests, benefitting from an elevated position commanding views across the valley. Much of the walk is on wide Bridle and By-ways with broad vistas and panoramic views all round to be enjoyed. Happily, yesterday’s rain has not caused too many problems, just some of the puddles are a bit wider and deeper; but none of us got wet feet! By coffee time we reach Tichborne, another pretty little village on the Itchen, where we were pleased to make use of the church benches for refreshment. We say goodbye to one of our group who peels off to do a shorter route, whilst four of us press on first along the Allan King Way, then west for a short section of the Itchen Way.
After a brief spell alongside the well fenced embankment above the busy A31, we turn south and soon leave traffic sounds behind as our route takes us through Tichborne Park and past the gates to Tichborne House, well hidden behind woodland. Eventually the bridleway meets the main Cheriton to Alresford Road, and we scoot speedily across this busy B road to turn east briefly along Wayfarer’s Walk. By the time we’ve walked steadily uphill to a junction with the Hinton Lane track, we are more than ready to find a sheltered spot out of the freshening wind and re-fuel with packed lunches and hot drinks.
Continuing south now we are on well-trodden routes intermittently signed as the Itchen and Wayfarer’s long distance paths. After the muddiest part of our trail, we’re glad to reach a crossroads east of Cheriton where we turn west on a dryer path to reach the village and our cars at about 1.20pm.
All agreed, an outing well worth doing, and glad we didn’t let the uncertain weather and sometimes unstable ground underfoot deter us. Having said that, we also agreed it would be worth following the route again in late spring/early summer in drier conditions.
Author: Val Wood, Programme Organiser