Day One – Winchester to Meonstoke

Or who put all those cows there?

Being on occasions an early riser I was up and out in Winchester on Sunday morning to take a few photos of: the oldest (or one of) pub in the country (the Royal Oak – a gift from Ethelred the Unready to his wife), Winchester High Street and of course the Cathedral – such history, St Swithan’s shrine, burial casks of kings including Canute and William Rufus not to mention the grave of Jane Austen. All this before breakfast!

Despite all the interesting things to see in Winchester, the South Downs Way beckoned. Donning boots and crossing out of the city over the M3 we headed for the tranquillity of the South Downs. It seemed quite strange walking out of the city which it felt should be the end of the journey. Though later we heard that people often walk from Winchester to Eastbourne – with the wind at their backs – makes sense.

Apart from a Labrador puppy licking the top of John’s flask we had a very pleasant and uneventful walk through; Chilcomb, along Temple Valley, down Kings Way, Gander Down and Holden Lane to the Milburys where a tasty Chocolate Fudge cake fortified us. Legs thus strengthened we headed for Beacon Hill– a beautiful nature reserve full of wild flowers and fine views over the Meon Valley. I was hoping to see lots of butterflies here but alas like the rest of the summer, the day was rather too breezy.

We headed down Beacon Hill towards Exton & Meonstoke our stopping place for the evening. Just one last hurdle crossing a field full of cows – somewhat daunting, but with shouts of “Go Girls” we crossed the pasture and the sea of cows parted! We did wonder if the farmer put them there on purpose.

We stopped for the night at the Bucks Head Meonstoke a pleasant, welcoming and cheerful country pub.

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