I wanted to find a walk with a bridge as the star feature of the walk, and I didn't have to go far to get a really good one! I cannot believe I haven't done this walk before but there is a first for everything. Starting in Winchester, we headed down to the path next to the River Itchen opposite the City Mill to walk to College Walk to continue on the Itchen Navigation Path that leads you to St Catherine's Hill.
If you want to make this hike longer you can head up to see the views over Winchester at the top of St Catherine's Hill. As I have recently walked here with my puppy I didn't want to make this walk any longer than this, plus Digby was having great fun getting braver with the river water.
At the end of this path there is a sign for Viaduct Way at a junction which takes you upwards to the top of the Hockley Viaduct. This viaduct was last used by the railway in 1966, however it is an example of great Victorian engineering as the largest brick built structure in the country. It now forms part of the National Cycle Network.
At the end of the viaduct, turn right which takes you to a verge on a main road for a short while until it turns left, almost back on yourself so you are aligned with the bottom of the viaduct. Continue into the Valley of Fields trial so you can get a good look at the viaduct which you had just crossed.
This trail takes you back to the Water Meadows and the Hospital of St Cross, which is a medieval almshouse in Winchester, that continues with the ancient custom of doling out bread and ale to wayfarers. When you reach the Hospital of St Cross, turn left adjacent to it then when you reach the road turn right which takes you through St Cross to Kingsgate.
It is on this road we stopped at the Queens Inn for some refreshment. Much to our delight we found this to be a microbrewery with lots of delicious brews to choose from. The food menu was also great and they were very dog friendly, what a find!. I made a note that on the first weekend in May, there is a beer festival, as it would be good to get the train here for a day out!
Feeling throughly refreshed and wishing we could stay longer, we head back out taking the path to the Kingsgate, then turning right here it takes you back on the path that leads you next to the river back up to the City Mill.