The Itchen Way is a 30-mile (50 km) walk that follows the river Itchen from its source in Hinton Ampner to its mouth in Southampton. The footpath crosses a wide variety of rural and urban landscapes, including stunning countryside, water meadows, nature reserves and the historical cathedral town of Winchester. Most people – me included – take two days to complete this walk, but it can be done in one day by those with a great fitness level and willing to have a very early start. I have walked the Itchen way in the spring of 2021, and at the bottom of this article you can find a video documentary of my journey!
WALKING THE ITCHEN WAY
DAY 1 - HINTON AMPNER TO WINCHESTER
The Itchen River springs just south of New Cheriton, and a small pond marks the start of this walk (51° 2.5556′ N, 1° 9.6176′ W). It is possible to reach the starting point of this walk from Winchester by bus. You can take Stagecoach bus n. 67 that leaves from King Alfred statue in east Winchester.
The first section of the walk is very rural, with green pastures, watercress beds and water meadows. The path crosses the countryside quiet villages of Cheriton, Tichborne and Ovington.
At the Bush Inn in Ovington, start heading west on a beautiful path surrounded by the waters of the Itchen until reaching the village of Itchen Abbas, with the stunning norman St. John’s Church and its Commonwealth War Grave.
Follow the river through Easton and Abbot’s Worthy (and, if tired, stop for a cheeky half at the pub) until reaching the stunning cathedral town of Winchester. If you are splitting this walk in two days, Winchester is the ideal place to stop to rest, and its Catehdral marks the perfect halfway mark in the journey.
First section of the walk: 24.11km – 195m elevation gain – 5h (including breaks and filming)
DAY 2 - WINCHESTER TO SOUTHAMPTON
For the second leg of this journey head back to Winchester Cathedral and start following the Itchen Navigation path towards the Iron Age fort of St. Catherine’s Hill. From here continue south, and enjoy gorgeous views of the river and the surrounding countryside through the villages of Shawford, Otterbourne and Bishopstoke.
I would recommend finding a perfect lunch break spot by the river around here, as the final section gets much busier and urbanised.
After walking past Southampton airport in Eastleigh, you will find the stunning Itchen Valley Country Park. If you feel adventurous and want to extend your walk, the Park offers the perfect opportunity. The final section of the walk enters the suburbs of Southampton, starting with the busy Riverside Park.
After entering the most urbanised part of the walk through the suburb of Bitterne, make your way to the finish line of the walk: the Itchen Bridge.
From here you can enjoy views over Southampton Docks, the English Channel and the Isle of Wight.
The Itchen Way is accessible to most regular walkers, and it shows no particular difficulties with very limited elevation gains. Despite the fact that the path is waymarked with metal disk attached to wooden posts, some parts of the route can be difficult to follow, especially in the first section of the walk. For this reason, I would recommend bringing a physical map of the local area or downloading a GPS track of the path on your phone.
Download the GPS track here: https://www.walkingenglishman.com/ldp/LDP/I/itchenway.gpx
If you want a clearer idea of the landscapes you will encounter, here you can find a short video documentary that I filmed when I walked the Itchen Way in May 2021:
If you are planning on doing the Itchen Way, just go for it and feel free to share your experience in the comment section below. Enjoy your walk!
If you are interested in exploring this area further, you can read my a full 5-DAY HAMPSHIRE ITINERARY that will take through all the best destinations in this beautiful area!
Enjoy your walk!