The Itchen Way long distance footpath follows the River Itchen from its source close to Hinton Ampner all the way to its mouth at Woolston, Southampton. The route has sometimes been described in the opposite direction from mouth to source and can of course be walked either way. The upper river section of the route is rural, passing watercress beds and water meadows and visiting quiet villages. As the route follows the Itchen valley south the lower reaches of the Itchen Way are often through an urban environment as the Way follows the towpath of the disused Itchen Navigation.
The source of the river is just south of New Cheriton, along the lane leading to Kilmeston and you should be able to find the river-head springs if you want a precise starting point. The route soon passes through Cheriton and after crossing the river goes through Tichborne Park. At Ovington, just south of New Alresford, the route heads west, joining the St Swithin’s Way and the Kings Way through Itchen Abbas. The route now follows the north bank, eventually passing underneath the M3 motorway to Abbots Worthy and into Winchester. The route follows the river through the historic centre of Winchester before following the Itchen Navigation, running parallel with a former railway past the foot of St. Catherine's Hill, site of an Iron Age fort.
The route then passes again beneath the M3 motorway and heads to Shawford, continuing to follow the Itchen Navigation past Otterbourne to Eastleigh. Leaving Eastleigh the route passes close to Southampton airport and enters the suburbs of Southampton making its way to the river mouth at Woolston where the River Itchen enters Southampton Water. At the Itchen Toll Bridge there are views of Southampton docks.The Itchen Way is waymarked with a logo of a yellow arrow on a green background. These can be seen on wooden posts and adhesive stickers. The waymarking, whilst often useful, cannot be relied upon for navigation and OS Explorer maps or a guide book are required. Waymarking through Winchester and Southampton is limited and here the guide book is helpful. The Itchen Way and the guide book are promoted by the Eastleigh Group of the Ramblers Association who are largely responsible for the creation of the route. The route was amended in 2008 when a new guide was published written by Richard Kenchington who devised the original route. Hampshire County Council and Eastleigh Borough Council have been financial supporters of the Itchen Way.
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