Photo of Winchester CathedralDistance from the South Downs Way: Starts outside Winchester Cathedral

The South Downs Way officially starts (or ends, depending on which way you look at it) in the centre of Winchester, just outside Winchester Cathedral.

Winchester is a city steeped in tradition. It sits at the western end of the South Downs Way, surrounded by rolling countryside just an hour south west of London. It’s a beautiful city with an awe inspiring cathedral, an excellent museum and lots more to interest the history lovers among you.

If you’re walking or cycling the South Downs Way, we’d definitely recommend having a day in Winchester at the beginning or end of your trip. It’s a pleasure to just stroll along the banks of the River Itchen and wander around the historic city centre with its independent shops and great selection of pubs and restaurants.

The Abbey Gardens are beautiful and well worth a visit, plus if you have children with you there’s a great play area. The River Itchen splits off into several channels in the city, and ‘The Weirs’ are a beautiful part with a footpath taking you along its path to Wolvesey Castle.

Getting Here & Home Again

As a city of great historical importance and the modern day county town of Hampshire, Winchester has excellent transport links.

By Rail & Bus

The train station is around a 10 minute walk to the Cathedral, and the bus station is just around the corner. By rail there are lots of options as Winchester is on the line to Bournemouth and Southampton as well as going North to Birmingham for connections to Manchester, Newcastle and Scotland. From London Waterloo you can reach Winchester in less than an hour, but if you prefer taking the bus then both National Express and Megabus operate here.

By Car

Conveniently located just off Junctions 9 and 10 of the M3, and also accessible via the A34 from Newbury and Oxford as well as the A31 from Franham & Alton. There are several pay and display car parks in the centre of Winchester and the city also has a Park & Ride scheme.


Just as you would expect from a city, you’ll find a tourist information centre (opposite the bus station on the ground floor of the Guildhall, so very close to the Cathedral), a wide choice of banks and cash machines, plenty of supermarkets, several post offices and countless bars & restaurants.