The Clarendon Way is a 27-mile walk running between east-west between Winchester and Salisbury Cathedrals. It spends a great deal of time on high ground, the main descent being to cross the Test Valley. It also passes through large areas of woodland, especially at the western end.
The trail receives its name from the ruins of Clarendon Palace, which is situated near the western end of the trail above Salisbury. The ruins of the once-expansive palace are insubstantial, but the views over Salisbury are superb. Indeed, there are some fine views available from many parts of the trail.
History abounds, from the Civil War defences of Oliver's Battery above Winchester to a long stretch of the old Roman Road that ran between Winchester and Old Sarum. The Cathedrals at either end lend a medieval air to the trail. Several picturesque villages are passed through on the way, with King's Somborne and Broughton being of particular note.
The trail forms a natural extension to the South Downs Way, which ends at Winchester. Several people have used the trail to extend the South Downs Way as part of walks between the east and west coasts.
A marathon race is held over the trail every October, a typical winning time being a spectacular three hours. Many people complete the trail in a day, but it is possible to split it up into two or three day strolls.
Map of the trail
Maps courtesy of Google Maps. Route for indicative purposes only, and may have been plotted after the walk. Please let me have comments on what you think of this new format.
The Clarendon Way is detailed on the Inheritance Walks website, along with some good circular walks based on the trail. - www.jameshardiman.co.uk
It is easily possible to travel by train between Winchester and Salisbury, changing at Southampton Central on the way. The journey takes about an hour, but you need to account for the walks between Winchester Station and Cathedral (about two-thirds of a mile) and Salisbury Station and Cathedral (about two-thirds of a mile).
Alternatively, Stagecoach bus services 68/78 runs semi-regularly between the bus stations in Salisbury and Winchester. This takes longer and is less regular then the rail service, but the bus stations in each town are nearer to the start/end points than the railway stations.
Explorer 131 (Romsey, Andover & Test Valley)
Explorer 132 (Winchester, New Alresford & East Meon)
The following scedules are advisory. They indicate various ways that the trail can be split up into walks of several lengths, with convenient end-points for each day's walk.
Naturally, you may want to alter this according to whether you are staying in B&B's, hostels, camping or are doing the walk in sections and are relying on public transport. Your own walk will probably vary from the itineraries shown below.
The Clarendon Way is short enough to be walked in one go by a fit person; otherwise it may be best to split it into two or three days to get the most out of the scenery. A two-day walk could be made by splitting it at Broughton.
Both Winchester and Salisbury have large tourist information offices that are open throughout the year.
Winchester's tourist information office is situated on the ground floor of the Guildhall, which is near the statue of King Alfred. They have a useful website and can be contacted at 01962 840500.
Salisbury's tourist information office is located in Fish Row in Salisbury at SP1 1EJ. They too have a website and can be contacted on 01722 334956.
When to walk
The Clarendon Way can easily be walked at any time of year; however, it would best be walked in late spring when some fields surrounding the trail can become a riot of colour. In winter certain sections can become rather slippery. If you are attempting the entire trail in one go, then you will need a good few hours of daylight, meaning that a walk between late Spring and early Autumn would be vital.