Good day all! So, if you missed the first blog on the St. Swithun's Way challenge head on over here. If you caught that one then read on amigo…… 

Winchester Cathedral is an amazing, grey monolith of a building that draws the eyes to the scatterings of intricate stone work. Amazing to think of the age of the building and then think that this building was not built but crafted by true artisans. Let’s not forget that it predates power tools and machinery by a fair number of years. 

Now that I finally got to the start it was time to bite the bullet and get cracking. Without mistakes in my navigation, which is probably rivalled by a junior scout who’s blindfolded, and relying heavily on the printed text from another person who walked it; it should be 55km to go. It was about 9-ish when I set off. 

Wrong! That was a fairly dismal navigational start. Of the two main entrances to the gardens of the cathedral that I could see, I went bulleting down the wrong one. This could be interesting. With the cathedral still looming over my shoulder I already had my eyes fixated on this stack of stapled paper in front of my face. Was this only a sign of things to come.

 
The two paths you can see. I was heading down the wrong one.

The route took me up the main pedestrian high street with cobbled stones and their watery sheen from the rain, reflecting the grey skies above gliding by underfoot. There were many lefts and rights in close proximity. The only way I knew this was according to the sage words of my guide and not the way markers of circular stickers bearing the green emblem of St. Swithun’s Way along with the name on a white background. Without that guide I would not even have made it out of Winchester on the correct route. So, my views of Winchester were Calibri size 11 font with the occasional smear of ink that had started to run from the rain, already.

 
Cobbled high street of Winchester.


St. Swithun's Way emblem. They were few and far between.

Soon the residential houses were thinning in their density. Occasionally I’d still pass buildings that a few hundred years on me. I always seen to drift off when I see a really old building and think, “I wonder what the world was like when this building first came into being?”

 
Hyde Gate - built in the 15th century!

It is not long before the residential houses and tarmac road give way to allotments and paths. I was excited that we were morning away, to a degree, from civilization. Little did I know at the time how I would long for tarmac later in the run. The route follows the Itchen Way for a while. Called so, as it follows the River Itchen. Called so, well, I don’t know that one. The Itchen river is very interesting as it has the width that would make you think it was rather deep. To the contrary, for a lot of it, that I saw, it was maybe a ruler length in depth so flat that it looked as if a roller for cricket pitches used the river as its byway. I have never seen clearer water in a river before.

I was now on the trails. This would mean far fewer lefts and rights to turn down so I could put my head down (or more likely lift it from staring at my guide) and "flick a hoof" without having to consult my guide. There was just the little town of King's Worthy and the field after field after field, for a while.

Well done for making it through the second post. Next post will entail lots of mileage! Until then...

Cheers