Shawford, Twyford and the Itchen Navigation Circular

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The River Itchen is a beautiful and classic chalk stream, rising north of Alresford and flowing through water meadows to Winchester and south to Eastleigh before discharging into Southampton Water. The whole river was confirmed an SSSI in 1997. The first stretch of this walk is along the Itchen Navigation, a ten-mile-long canal system that provided an important trading route from Winchester to the sea. Opened in 1710, it had fallen into disuse by 1869, but in that time it provided an important method of moving goods, particularly agricultural produce and coal, between the two cities and the intervening villages.

The London and Southampton Railway, the line that may have brought you here, was opened between Winchester and Southampton in 1839 and took the canal's business away. Shawford Station opened to traffic on 1st September 1882.

Shawford - or shallow ford - was where the future Charles II crossed the river after the Battle of Worcester in 1651. For six weeks, hotly pursued by the Parliamentary forces under Oliver Cromwell, he travelled first north, then south through the Cotswolds and the Mendips to the South Coast and finally along the South Downs to Shoreham, where he made his escape to France. This route is now perpetuated as the Monarch's Way.

England - South England - Hampshire - Countryside


Birds, Butterflies, Flowers, Food Shop, Good for Kids, Industrial Archaeology, Mostly Flat, Play Area, Pub, Public Transport, Restaurant, River, Wildlife, Woodland
4/25/2019 - Peter Scaresbrook

Did this walk yesterday and was lovely. Waypoints pretty much unchanged from original photographs. Ideal if you have a dog.

11/19/2012 - Michael Kempster

First walk since joining for me too. A very pleasant walk on a brisk November day. Directions easy to follow. One minor point: Step 21 "At the far end cut the corner and head straight for a stile. This brings you out onto a track which crosses between large fields of rape and wheat. You pass a narrow copse on the right and a bridleway turning left." - Not much rape or wheat in evidence

9/13/2011 - Caroline Jones

This is the first walk I did after joining walking world and the first of this length and on my own (a lot of firsts there!). I printed off the instructions with pictures and found it easy to follow, thanks to all the detail. Looking forward to the next one.

8/13/2011 - Lyn Lovell

Wonderful walk with lots to look at. Very dog friendly. Stopped off at the Fishers Pond PH for a drink. The view across the pond was lovely. Very easy directions to follow.

12/11/2010 - Pete Steele

This was wonderful. Perfect for a Sunday morning wake up. Highly recommended. My dogs said thank you!

9/17/2010 - Mik Crouch

I highly recommend this walk as it has a bit of everything to it, woodlands, views across fields. The walk down the River Itchen is an abdundance of wildlife..A simply stunning walk and don't forget to try the food and beers at the Bridge pub..Thank you for setting up this walk..

9/28/2009 - Helena Pugsley

Highly recommended walk - very pretty. Although it is 8 miles long it is nearly all either flat or downhill so is not difficult walking. Please note Shawford village is currently having major work and hence you cannot get through from Twyford direction to reach the carpark - instead head from Junction 11 to Otterbourne and then take a left turn into the village and the carpark is just on your right before the station. More about the walk on my blog:

3/7/2009 - Julian Holt

We really enjoyed this walk, even on a cold wet February morning! The garden centre is great for a hot breakfast, and the River Itchen is just beautiful. We highly recommend this walk.

11/21/2005 - Ian and Sarah Jane Lloyd

A lovely walk with a good mix of scenery. Walking along the riverside footpath on a crisp, bright Autumn morning watching the swans was magical. The area is a horse lovers dream as there are fields full of them on this walk.

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