24 July. The Winchester Circular walk last Saturday was undertaken with the most alarming weather forecasts threatening thunder and lightning. Nevertheless, armed with the Ramblers’ guidance on what to do in a storm – nine intrepid walkers set off through the City towards St Catherine’s Hill, ready to ‘crouch’ and/ or ‘proceed rapidly to lower ground’ if needed at any moment. We were very fortunate as the storms had passed Winchester earlier that day. More dangerous probably was the sign along the river bank warning us of a ‘Very Angry Swan’ who sure enough was settled mid path surrounded by her little ones. We circled the sleeping swan very cautiously, passed some enormous bullocks and proceeded on our way up the hill.
Mist obscured our views from the top but there was an abundance of wild orchids, nature going amok. Indeed, by the time we got to the narrow path rekkied five days earlier Mother Nature had been really busy. It was a choice between cutting back thick brambles and trampling nettles or being hit by flying golf balls. This really slowed our progress and we got to our lunch stop very late, though walking along the River Itchen was a delight.
A sign of the times was that the pub in Shawford was not serving food due to ‘ the pingdemic’ closing the kitchen but the staff let us eat our lunches in the pub. Whether that was also the reason that the replacement bus service for the trains was not working either was anyone’s guess so those leaving at lunchtime had a long wait. Life got worse for both the leader and the afternoon walkers when we heard from Sigrid (who had come to join us for the afternoon and having waited for an hour in the pub, given us up for lost). She broke the news that the tea rooms at the 11th Century St Cross were closed for a wedding.
We went along the river banks to St Cross nevertheless to take a peak and behold though, the tea room had re-opened and civilised life was restored. We could sit on the immaculate lawns and enjoy the wedding’s jazz band vicariously whilst sipping tea. The heavens opened before we got back to the Winchester station but again it had made the meadows lush. Blood pressures sufficiently raised by the day’s escapades Chris’ led the challenge of charging between platforms at Woking to help get us all safely homewards. Sorry you missed it? Thanks to those brave souls who came out and live to tell the tale.
Sue C (Photos Sue H, Christine M, Sue C)