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Jay Walking

St Swithins Way

The St Swithins Way is a 55km rural walk from the old Saxon Capital of England Winchester to Farnham where is links up with the start of the North Downs Way National Trail. Combined together these two routes roughly follow the old Pilgrims Way, the theory being medieval pilgrims would follow the route from the shrine of St Swithin at Winchester to the shrine of Becket at Canterbury. However the concept of an actual Pilgrims Way seems have been largely debunked as more of a Victorian idea than having actually existed. What is more likely is that the route reflects an ancient trackway generally taking the chalk ridge, following the contours to avoid the clay on the valley floors. Whatever the actuality of this there was a road or pathway called the Pilgrims Way, which still exists in parts, occasionally there are road signs for it. The logo and route marker for the St Swithins Way reflects its links with pilgrimage being comprised of two bishops croziers.

The route goes through a lot of farmland and villages, passing many ancient churches, though with much of the old Pilgrims Way having been turned into the A31 road. and you’ll find yourself doing a lot of walking on tracks and roads. The advantage of this is that the route passes through a lot of small villages and towns allowing frequent access to to some lovely pubs and cafes, quite rarely for me I stopped for a drink on both days, mainly to rest for awhile. The walking itself is fairly level easy with no major climbs, only a few hills, the maximum altitude reached being around 220 metres and the lowest altitude of around 40 metres near Winchester. The route is well marked for most of its route, and navigation is generally good but I’d always recommend either taking a map or a digital version. I had OS explorer maps for most of the route though for the last few miles into Farnham I relied on the OS maps app, rather than buy a map for just a few miles.

Getting to the start or finish of the route is fairly easy both Winchester and Farnham having railway stations, otherwise there is a train station at Alton but between Winchester and Alton there is only the bus 64 bus route, which has an hourly service on Sundays and twice an hour on Saturdays. Information about maps and publications can be found in the useful links listed below.

Sections walked

Useful links

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