Friday, 4 January 2013

New Year Walks ... at historic sites

With mild weather we've been out on some lovely walks since new year, a little muddy underfoot but beautiful sunshine in the sky.

On New Years Day we joined friends for a walk to St Catherines Hill near Winchester, somewhere we hadn't ventured before despite it being close by. I had seen some photos not so long ago on a friends blog and commented that we must go there soon.

Ramparts of the Iron Age hill fort

It's a Chalk hill rising to almost 100m and providing spectacular views across Winchester and the surrounding Downs. Around the top of the hill are the ramparts of an Iron Age hill fort, a scheduled ancient monument in itself. At the summit there is a copse of beech trees which contains the site of the 12th Century Chapel of St Catherines.

Beech Copse
across the hill

Between the copse and the ramparts there is the Mizmaze, estimated to have been cut between 1647 and 1710. It's amazing to since discover that this is one of only eight surviving Englands Historic turf mazes. There is another nearby at Breamore - so that's on the list of places to visit sometime soon. These two and another, although a relic now in Dorset, were names mizmaze. They are an unconventional maze, classed more as a labyrinth, the paths have no junctions or crossings.

 walking the Mismaze

This mismaze is also unusual in that the groove in the turf is the path, more often it is the turf that is the path. It's a truly beautiful thing as you can see from the photo and my new blog header.
view down the steps
 as the Sun went down

There were many steps to climb to reach the hill, rampart and mizmaze - 329, Imogen counted them all the way up and all the way down. A beautiful walk in beautiful sunshine and with good company.

A couple of days later we went to Shawford for a lovely lunch in the pub there and then a walk along part of the Itchen Navigation. We are going to walk the length of this this year, firstly in chunks and then we'll pick a lovely Summers day to walk the entirety stopping off for breaks and lunch. We have walked sections of it before, some of which is very close to our home.

walking the Itchen Navigation

The Itchen Navigation is a disused canal system that was once an important trade route from Winchester to Southampton, stretching 10.4 miles (16.7km). It was opened in 1710 and used for about 150 years. It's named a navigation as it uses the river that already exists, and was improved to create locks to bypass difficult sections to navigate.

along the Navigation

It was rather muddy in parts, the river water was very high, rising over some of the bank reinforcements that have been created, but just below the path so we could still walk alongside. We spotted some lovely wildlife along the way. Including Swans in the flooded field ...
A deer at the bottom of a riverside home ...

And (I think it was) a Kestrel hovering ...

and below in the tree ...

Returning from our walk we went to meet these beautiful Highland animals that graze on the Chalkland. We think they fit in well amongst all the historic sites along this walk.

You know it's been a good day when on the way home Imogen proclaimed it the best day, with a great lunch and a great walk!

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful photo's - love the black and white one of the maze :-)


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