A Splash of Tabasco and Summoning the Devil The South Downs Way
With a childish, giddy excitement I parked my car in Winchester at 6am on a beautiful Saturday morning. The weather report held much promise – spring was waking from a long sleep, suddenly realising there was much work to be done. I itched to walk the South Downs Way in a decent time and stretch my legs for the new season.
The previous year, I had walked its hundred miles in three days and was eager to skim a little time off that. This is not to boast I can hike quicker or faster than anyone else, but I enjoy precisely that. I love the buzz, relish hitting the twenty-mile mark, smile when I see my average creep over three miles an hour, and when I pass thirty miles I feel like a superhero. Anything above that and I giggle.
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It is my local trail in the county where I was born and raised. I can reach it in twenty minutes, know the route without a map, am aware of the best camp spots and what time the cafes open. It winds through perfect rolling downland, offering scenery from a classic English postcard. I absolutely adore it up there.
Winchester, at the western end of the South Downs Way, dates back to prehistoric times. It has an important heritage and enviable history. The trademarks of a classic English town are apparent, the cathedral and city walls to name but two.