Saturday, July 11, 2009

itchen' for a jog

After sitting on my rear for a day, I am itchen' for a jog.

Heading to the right out of Waterhouse Close and toward Winchester, I set out on a jog. For a half mile I put up with the cars speeding by at break-neck speed before I made my way on to the Itchen Path to Winchester. The weather was drizzling rain, but the wet felt cool and refreshing.

The path trails off into the valley that connects Twyford and Winchester and follows the course of the Itchen River.

Quickly the traffic noise is left behind and peace and quiet descends as you follow the course of the river towards Winchester.

Picture by Peter Jordan.

The river runs clear and staight. Trees hundreds of years old stand guard on both sides of the path as you make your way to Winchester. When there are no trees, there are raspberry thorns to deal with and stinging nettles. A mile or so later, you come to St.Catherine's Hill, which overlooks the city and once upon a time was a fort, as well as, the site where medieval Winchester buried its plague victims. Continuing on the trees open up into fields and then again to a tree lined path, before you come to the playing fields of Winchester College. Here ancient sweet gum trees whose girth is greater than the span of two arm lengths stand in silent grandeur.

The path takes you by houses lining the river and then you are in Winchester. In a moment you are at the ancient cathedral of Winchester where King Alfred the Great ruled England over a thousand years ago.

The return trip follows the opposite side of the river and a brief venture into a nature reserve. The final leg of the run ends at the Twyford church and a view of England's largest and oldest yew tree.

Oh yes, why is it called the Itchen River? My theory is that the name came from the stinging nettle that grows to six feet in height and lines the path in many spots, causing itching whenever it comes in contact with the skin.

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