A healthy view of Winchester

Winchester City Council’s cultural services team invites you to don your walking boots and take part in a health walk up St Giles Hill to celebrate the installation of a new panoramic interpretation panel at this beautiful viewpoint.

The walk will take place on Monday 27 October, leaving at 12.30pm, from outside Winchester’s award winning tourist information centre (TIC) in Winchester Guildhall at the lower end of the High Street.

Anyone can take part, as long as you have enough puff to make the short but steep ascent up St Giles Hill, where you will be rewarded with a spectacular view across the city. When you reach the top, the city council’s Historic Information Officer, Graham Scobie, will tell you about the area’s fascinating past as the site of the famous medieval fair.

The new interpretation panel on St Giles Hill, which was designed by Mark Barden of Winchester Museums Service, will help visitors and local residents to understand more about what they see before them – a view of the city that has been enjoyed for centuries. The panel compares the view today with one portrayed in an engraving by Samuel and Nathanial Buck in 1736. The earlier image shows a depopulated city recovering from centuries of economic decline, but beginning to emerge as a city of elegance. St Giles Hill was a place for the fashionable to promenade.

This event also marks the launch of Winchester Health Walks, set-up by Lydia Lockhart, Active Lifestyles Officer for the Winchester District. These will be weekly walks of around an hour in duration, following a variety of routes and led by trained volunteer walk leaders The aim of these walks is to encourage people, particularly those who usually take little or no exercise, to enjoy regular short walks around the locality to improve their fitness and general wellbeing. The walks also offer a great opportunity to socialise and make new friends.

Cllr Patricia Stallard, Portfolio Holder for Heritage, Culture and Sport, said:

"As both the Historic Environment Champion for Winchester City Council and a keen walker, I am delighted to be able to combine two of my main interests in one simple initiative. I think it is very apt to be launching a new programme of health walks whilst sharing a little local history at the same time."

Lydia Lockhart, the City Council’s Active Lifestyles Officer, added:

"Exercise should be fun and walks such as these can easily be incorporated into your daily routine. We are so lucky that the Winchester District has so many green spaces in which to walk, run or cycle."

If you would like to join city council employees for the walk – which is FREE for everyone - please wear sensible walking shoes and don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the view. The route involves a steep climb and a considerable number of steps and is therefore not suitable for anyone using a wheelchair or with a pushchair. For information on an alternative route please call Alison Woods at Winchester Tourist Information Centre on 01962 840 500 or email tourism@winchester.gov.uk.

The event is being supported by Hildon Natural Mineral Water, a local company who have recently achieved carbon neutral status and have been shortlisted for the Sustainable Business Partnership Awards.

If you are unable to make it on Monday 27 October, don’t forget you can pick up a copy of the Sunset Walk, a self guided walk which takes in St Giles Hill, for just £1 from the TIC. The Winchester Health Walks will take place every Monday, meeting outside Winchester Guildhall at 10.30am, starting from Monday 3 November. If you would like more information about the Winchester Health Walks, please contact Lydia on 07980 732 158 or via River Park Leisure Centre on 01962 848 700.