Magdalen Hill Down

Magdalen Hill Down

The center of Winchester is very close to the South Downs and from the King Alfred statue, you can leave the bustle of the city within minutes. This walk has great views from St Giles Hill and Magdalen Hill Down.

More information on start point and other walks from King Alfred
Length: 5.9 km / 3.7 miles
Time: 2 hours 30 mins at a swift pace + breaks
Difficulty: Easy – 107 m total ascent

Click to view in OS Maps

The route

Before you climb up to St Giles Hill, you pass through an area called The Soke. It stands for the Bishop’s Soke – in the 13th century it was the part of Winchester that was under the jurisdiction of the bishop and not the king (see Secret Winchester for more details).

At St Giles Hill an annual fair was held in the 12th century to finance the construction of the cathedral (again, see Secret Winchester for more details). Continuing east, we prefer Northbrook Avenue, a very pleasant residential street, though it’s also possible to take Baring Road to Alresford Road and have a look at the medieval St Giles Hill graveyard on the way.

Moving on, past the M3 motorway bridge you enter Magdalen Hill Down, a dedicated butterfly conservation area where a variety of butterflies can be observed at the right time of the year. However, the views are great at any time of the year. There is a path that goes down the southern side of the Down. Be careful to cross the A31 Petersfield Road and take Kings Lane to the village of Chilcomb. The village is at the heart of the Winchester-East Meon anticline, a geological fault that shapes the landscape and steep hills of the area.

Finally, return to Winchester on the edge of a field and cross the motorway bridge into the suburb of Highcliffe before reaching the river Itchen close to the city centre.

1898 Ordnance Survey map of St Giles Hill area

3D model of Magdalen Hill Down

Highlights of the walk

View from Magdalen Hill Down
View from Magdalen Hill Down
Flowers at King Alfred statue
Flowers at King Alfred statue, the starting point of the walk
view of cathedral
View of the Cathedral from the Itchen River
View of Winchester College from St Giles Hill
View of Winchester College from St Giles Hill
Chilcomb field with Magdalen Hill Down in the background
Chilcomb field with Magdalen Hill Down in the background
Chilcomb field with Chilcomb Down in the background
Chilcomb field with Chilcomb Down in the background
M3 Motorway bridge
M3 Motorway bridge leading to back to Winchester (Highcliffe)

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