Just 53 minutes from London Waterloo
Lovely, leafy Winchester is the perfect destination for a day trip or a longer, luxurious break. It offers great shopping, superb restaurants and much more historical interest than just a magnificent cathedral to enjoy, and it’s all within an easy walk of the station.
For foodies, Winchester hosts a bustling and excellent farmer’s market on the second and final Sunday of every month, where you’ll find plenty of local smoked trout, watercress and other goodies associated with the River Itchen. And if you get thirsty, Winchester is also rumoured to have more pubs per head than any other town or city in the UK.
Outside the train station you can catch a bus into town. It’s worth getting a PlusBus ticket along with your train ticket so you can then hop on and off any bus you fancy all day. Alternatively, the local taxi company is Wessex Cars. The centre of town is only half a mile away, though, if you’re up for a 10-minute stroll. There are over 400 car parking spaces, with a new multi-storey improvement recently completed, and a whopping 286 bicycle spaces.
Winchester Cathedral is perhaps best known as the burial place of Jane Austen, and well worth a visit. It was saved from sinking at the start of the 20th century by diver William Walker, who spent 6 hours a day under water for 5 years shoring it up. There’s an Anthony Gormley statue in the crypt (which still floods), which you should definitely see after you’ve finished gawping at the longest gothic nave in the world.
Wolvesey Castle is well worth a visit too, and from there you can cross the road, nip past the back of Winchester College and take a stroll in the water meadows, a tranquil oasis of cultivated river meadow enjoyed by the locals for centuries. If you’re lucky you could even spot an otter.
Continue on the path through the meadows and if you walk far enough you’ll reach St Cross Hospital, dating from 1132, the star of the TV series Wolf Hall. You should also see King Arthur’s Round Table in the Great Hall to tick all the historical boxes – you just have to imagine that it’s the real thing.
If you’re thirsty by now, both the Black Boy and the Hyde Tavern are favoured by local ale connoisseurs, and just round the back of the station is The Railway Inn, which is home to excellent live music.