The River Walk
It’s 7:00 am and my legs are still moving, the noise of the river pushing me forward. This walk wasn’t planned, nor was it meant to be this long, but I’m a bit of a rambler. Once I start moving, I can’t stop, come rain or shine – so much so that I’ve done this walk over ten times in the past two weeks.
An hour ago the sun was shining through my skylight. Yes, that’s right, sun! In England! Woo! We haven’t seen it in weeks. It’s hid itself in rain clouds, snow and hail. But spring is here and we can finally escape our homes and stretch our legs. Some ten to fifteen minutes later and I’m out the door, released into the wild.
If you would like to go on the same walk, quickly run to Sainsbury’s in the city centre and grab some food, drink and a lighter. A red one this time, to match the sunny weather. As you come out, turn left, and then make another sharp left to head towards The Bishop on the Bridge (a gorgeous pub if you have the time to stop.) There, the river waits.
When you get there, make sure to switch your phone off and take out your headphones. Yes, you heard me correctly, take them out, PUT THEM AWAY, DEAR READER! There is so much to see and touch and hear; the river is void of human life at this time of day, so slow down and take it all in.
This section of the riverside is lined with beautiful cottages and gardens, making it a great place for dog walking, or saying hello to other dogs because your landlord and/or parents won’t let you have one (the joys of student life.) But that’s okay, just suck it up, say hello to the odd duck and carry on forwards. Around the corner, there is also an ice cream-van. I dare you to resist it on a day like this.
After the ice cream-van, turn onto College Street, then College Walk, and carry on until you meet Domum Road. From here, you have two options: follow the path up to St. Catherine’s Hill, or make your way down the beaten track that leads to the river.
Let’s say you’re brave enough to follow me down the beaten track and end up wandering alongside the river Itchen. You’ll find willow trees and wild flowers to pick and smell. Swans* will be lazing about on the water, stretching their wings, water voles dash between river banks, and I’m going to stop writing now, because I’m starting to sound like a Jane Austen novel.
You get the point. The Itchen is gorgeous, and one of Winchesters hidden secrets. It’s such a shame that most people only visit the City Centre when Winchester has so much more to offer.
Winchester is unique in this way. You can be in a bustling city one moment, then the country side the next. It provides a great escape from all that stress, worrying and questioning running through your head. In the country, everything is still and relaxed, and will greet you with open arms as you listen to its bird song.
A side note/afterthought: Whilst I love birds, swans are crazy. Walking by the riverside, sun on my face and a light breeze in the air, I spotted a female swan by the bank up ahead. I approached slowly (you don’t want to annoy a swan) and tip toed round it. It didn’t move. It only looked up and stared.
When I got on its other side I looked down at it and said ‘Thanks,’ before giving it a nod and walking off.
The swan lost it.
It gave a horrible quark, lengthening its neck as it started waddling towards me with a lot more speed than anticipated. I started to run, ducking under branches and leaping over fallen logs. Behind me, the swan was still squawking, its webbed feet pattering on the ground. It wasn’t until we reached a field with some dog walkers that I managed to lose it.
Moral of the story: Swans are lovely, just don’t say hello to them.