St Catherine's Hill Winchester
Climb this small hill in Winchester for fine views over the town, the River Itchen and the surrounding countryside of the South Downs. It's a very pretty area with the chalk downland covered in wild flowers including bird's-foot trefoil, salad burnet, dropwort and several types of orchid. This attracts 25 different types of butterfly such as marbled white, chalkhill blue and brown argus. There are also the ramparts of an Iron Age hill fort, a 17th/18th century mizmaze and a copse of beech trees containing the site of a 12th century chapel.
There is a car park just north of the hill where you can pick up the footpaths to the hill. You could also walk from the centre of town which is only about a mile away. If you're coming by bike then National Cycle Route 23 runs right past the hill along the river.
To turn this into a longer circular walk descend the hill and head south along the River Itchen to St Cross Bridge. Cross the bridge and then return on the other side of the river to Winchester College and the town.
If you'd like to extend your walk then you could pick up the Itchen Way and enjoy a stroll along the River Itchen. If you were to head north along the trail you would soon come to the lovely Winnall Moors Nature Reserve. Here you will find nice footpaths taking you to chalk stream, tall fen, hay meadow and wet pasture, with a wide variety of wildlife to look out for. Near here is another popular little climb to St Gile's Hill. There's another nice viewpoint with a little park, an information board and fine views over the cathedral, college and castle. The Hockley Viaduct is also located just to the south of the hill and is worth visiting for its views and historical significance.
PostcodeSO23 9PA - Please note: Postcode may be approximate for some rural locations
St Catherine's Hill Winchester Ordnance Survey Map - view and print off detailed OS map
St Catherine's Hill Winchester Open Street Map - view and print off detailed map
St Catherine's Hill Winchester OS Map - Mobile GPS OS Map with Location tracking
St Catherine's Hill Winchester Open Street Map - Mobile GPS Map with Location tracking
The Queen Inn is located just to the north of the hill and a good option for some refreshments after your walk. They offer a tasty home made bar snack menu, along with sandwiches, including items such as scotch eggs and sausage rolls as well as offering home made cake. The pub is also dog friendly and includes a nice beer garden to relax in on warmer days. You can find it a short distance north of the hill car park on 28 Kingsgate Rd with a postcode of SO239PG for your sat navs.
The Handlebar Cafe is located just to the north of the hill, next to the East Winchester park and ride car park. The cafe is part of Bespoke Biking and includes a good range of meals and snacks. It is located on the old railway line, with the building's design reflecting this. The cafe is a popular place for both walkers and cyclists and provides a friendly service. You can find them at the foot of the hill on Garnier Road with a postcode of SO23 9PA for your sat navs.
The walk is a good one to so with your dog and both the Queen Inn and The Handlebar Cafe mentioned above are dog friendly.
Further Information and Other Local Ideas
Head a couple of miles west of Winchester and you can enjoy another climb at Farley Mount Country Park. Here you'll find a fine viewpoint next to the distinctive pyramid shaped folly which rises to the west of the city.
A few miles to the south there's the splendid Hinton Ampner near Cheriton. Here you can explore the beautiful gardens surrounding a fine stately home. In Cheriton there's a noteworthy 13th century church, some picturesque thatched cottages and the site of the Battle of Cheriton which took place as part of the English Civil War in 1544. You will also find the source of the River Itchen just south of the village.
For more walking ideas in the area see the Hampshire Walks and South Downs Walks pages.