Family walk around Old Winchester Hill, nr Warnford

It wasn't a planned walk but we decided to take advantage of the cold snap that we'd had overnight so headed up to Old Winchester Hill (nr Warnford, Hampshire) for a short family walk..... that turned out to be slightly longer than planned!

Out for a "family" walk
The walk was a great excuse to get some of the winter kit out again (Scarpa Charmoz Pro GTX, Rab Vapour Rise Guide pants, Montane Prism jacket) and also to try out our new child carrier - the Deuter Kid Comfort 3.

Arriving at the Old Winchester Hill car par at around 10am we were just going to walk to the hill fort and back (a walk of around 2 miles) but decided on a circular route that followed short sections of the South Downs Way and Monarch's Way.

Walk stats 
Distance - 4.04 miles
Average speed - 2.65 mph
Total time - 1hr 31mins
Altitude gain - 526ft
  • GPX file from the route (recorded via Viewranger) can be downloaded by clicking here 
  • PDF route card of the walk can be downloaded by clicking here
The frost lined "all access" path leading to the hill fort
The route starts from the car park and heads out around the top of the hill system across the fields (which were great in the sub zero temperatures but can become very slippery in wet weather) that make up part of the nature reserve before joining the all access path, basically a graded double track, that runs from one of the car parks to the hill fort site.  You stay at a reasonably constant 200 (ish) meters elevation so although the hill drops away sharply below you making for some stunning views across the valley the path is pretty much flat.

Just out of the car park, looking across to a cold and misty hill fort, Old Winchester Hill
Looking (W, SW) towards Bishops Waltham and Winchester in the distance
When you get into the hill fort site there's a sign asking you to put dogs on leads due to the sheep and other livestock that are free on the site - so on to his lead Monty went.  It's worth noting that the hill fort site and surrounding fields where the paths cross through are not access land, unlike the main site of the nature reserve which is.

The ramparts of the hill fort date back to the 1st millennium BC but there are even earlier burial mounds that date back to the Bronze Age.  Anyway, rather than me ramble on about the fort itself there is a great link to the English Heritage site with loads of details here

Once past the trig point (198m) you step down from the old ramparts of the hill fort and then down the slippery, muddy path of the South Downs Way that leads down-hill a few hundred meters to an intersection where we turned right (N) along the Monarch's Way.

Deuter Kid Comfort 3
By this point Isabelle, snugly wrapped up in the new child carrier, was fast asleep.  The Deuter Kid Comfort 3 (link to manufacturers site here) is admittedly, at £230 rrp, right at the top end of child carriers - alongside the Osprey Poco Premium and Littlelife All Terrain S2 (which we've been using for a few months) especially when you take into account the fact that the rain cover is extra but is, in my opinion, worth the money.

(Above, LittleLife All Terrain S2)

The seat padding (for us one of the most important factors after Isabelle's hip dysplasla as a newborn) is great and getting the child into the seat and buckled in is simple and secure.  The padding on the straps and adjustable nature of the pack make it great for longer distance walks and also make it easy for Donna and I to swap over mid-walk.
(Above, Deuter Kid Comfort 3 - rear and side (seat) views)

The pack also has 18ltr's of storage - ideal for "essentials" - and a pull out stand that keeps the carrier stable and secure when on the ground.  Either way you look at it Isabelle seems to approve as she slept in it during this walk (with temperatures hovering around -1C) for over an hour!


The Monarch's Way continues down hill towards Peake Farm and Lower Peake Cottages..... Now I'll hold my hands up and admit it - I got it a little bit wrong!  I'd hoped to take a path off the Monarch's Way, just past Peake Farm, through Peake Woods back to the nature reserve but I was wrong and the path didn't exist so we had to continue along past Lower Peake Cottage and then on to the road (Hayden Lane) that runs from the pub at Warnford to the Old Winchester Hill car park - not ideal as the road is single track but luckily it wasn't busy and we made good time as Isabelle was still asleep.  Taking a compass wouldn't have helped me but paying more attention to the map (1:25k on ViewRanger app - Galaxy S5) would!

The last section back along Hayden Lane passed fairly quickly and luckily we only met a few cars along the way - it's worth pointing out that this road can get busy in the summer and peak times - and Isabelle stayed asleep all the way back along the road to the car park and the end of the walk!

At least someone gets to sleep!
Walking route recorded on my GS5 with Viewranger;


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