Discover Austen and Ales, Cakes and Codes with Winchester's Tourist Guides

A brand new leaflet with full details of the line-up of walks offered by Winchester's official tourist guides in 2006 is now available from Winchester City Council's award-winning tourist information centre (TIC). The latest edition features a host of interesting themed walks alongside the guides' regular city walks. Highlights include a food-themed Cakes and Ale tour, an insight into Jane Austen's Winchester and a code-cracking Da Vinci Code Trail, which has been devised to coincide with the spring release of this major new film.

The themed walks, which run on certain dates during the year, are ideal for locals wanting to delve a little deeper into the history on their doorstep or for visitors who have already enjoyed a regular city tour. A special feature for this year is a series of Sunday family tours, which provide an introduction to the history of Winchester especially suitable for 8 to 14 year olds. Linking with the national curriculum, the tours will bring to life history taught in the classroom.

The programme also provides an opportunity to discover Winchester's wealth of public art on a sculpture-themed tour which the guides are offering in the lead-up to a high profile programme of sculptural events later in the year. Historic period walks offer the chance to explore the city's evolution through Roman, Saxon, Norman and Stuart times, while new for 2006 is a series of summer evening walks, taking place every Tuesday at 6.30pm from May to August. The varied titles include Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Novels - tying in with this best-selling author's book signing and lecture in Winchester during May - and Jane Austen's Winchester, a firm favourite with both Janeites and lovers of costume drama alike.

Fans of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code are invited to think about some of the ideas explored in his best-selling novel during a special Da Vinci Code Trail, which looks at related symbols across the city (various dates in spring and summer). Winchester Cathedral's north transept doubles as the Vatican in this year's big budget film version of the novel, to be released in May.

On 27 June Cakes and Ale will tantalise the taste buds as part of the Hampshire Food Festival, while the ever-popular Chesil Tunnel Tour on Saturday 29 August provides a rare glimpse inside the disused railway tunnel. Fearless folk are invited to join the guides for spine-tingling Hallowe'en tours of the city on 28 and 31 October before the season finally comes to a close with Taste of Christmas walks during December.

Chairman of the Winchester Area Tourist Guides Association Elizabeth Proudman said, "There has never been a better time to take a guided tour of Winchester. The 2006 programme is one of our most exciting yet, thanks in part to the many new specialisms and interests of our 12 newly trained guides, who we were delighted to welcome to our association during 2005."

Winchester City Council's Tourist Information Centre Manager Alison Woods added, "To meet customer demand our talented tourist guides are constantly developing the range of tours offered. The themed tours get more and more popular each year and to avoid disappointment I would strongly recommend pre-booking."

Winchester City Council's Portfolio Holder for Culture, Heritage and Sport Cllr Thérèse Evans commented, "Winchester's official tourist guides play a vital role in welcoming visitors to our District. They also bring our rich heritage alive for local people. Winchester City Council is very appreciative of the work they do."

Most of the themed walks leave from inside Winchester Tourist Information Centre (TIC) and tickets cost just £4 for adults, £1 for children (regular city tours are £3 for adults and accompanying children free). The new leaflet with full details of all these walks, as well as the regular, year-round, city tours is now available from Winchester TIC in the Guildhall, tel 01962 840 500, by email to  or by logging onto