As you may know the love of my life is our dog Bailey (sorry Ollie). He turns eight this year, which I can’t quite believe and I can’t recommend getting a dog enough. However, one thing I hate is winter dog walks. It’s dark in the mornings, dark in the evenings, it’s invariably raining and cold and as much as I love him, it’s nothing short of a chore.
We spend quite a lot of time in Winchester (best brunch in Winchester post coming soon) so it makes sense we’d combine a coffee fix and a dog walk. Handily, it’s one of the best routes to take that has a perfect path and alongside the River Itchen, which takes you straight into Winchester.
Start in St Cross, we either park down Five Bridges Road or in the layby just before you get onto the M3 towards London. Sign posted towards Winchester (funny that) you’ll pass St Catherine’s Hill which is deceptively steep, believe me. Climb it if you’re feeling healthy, the views from the top are beautiful and the smug feeling of achievement helps too. The pathways are paved and wide and a mix of dog walkers, cyclists and families make for a pleasant wander into town.
The route is about two miles each way and we always stop for a coffee and often a mooch round Winchester when we get there. Visit Flat White’s coffee van if you can, their coffee is some of the best there is and I always like to support a local business where possible. The Cathedral and its surrounding grounds are the perfect place to sip your coffee and snaffle a bun from Hoxton Bakehouse before you head back to the car.
Unless Bailey has been for a swim in the river (likely) it’s a decent route to avoid the muddy pathways with the bonus of a coffee and a cake. And how can you resist that face?