More Ways than one
The Great Outdoors|February 2020
Roger Smith calls for more clarity around the increasing proliferation of named trails
Roger Smith

WHAT IS IT about the Itchen Valley? A glance at OS Landranger sheet 185 shows a quite extraordinary concentration of named trails jostling each other for position down the little valley just east of Winchester. The trails are so dense on the ground that the OS has great difficulty fitting them all in.

On a cursory study I noted St Swithun’s Way, the Allan King Way, the Itchen Way, Wayfarers Walk, Three Castles Path, Monarchs Way and, almost barged off the map by these upstarts, the venerable South Downs Way. And there are routes that the OS hasn’t yet managed to fit in, the Watercress Way for example.

There has been a mini industry in Way creation for a while now. This is partly because set-up funds are fairly easy to obtain (getting money for ongoing maintenance is vastly more difficult) and partly because of a belief that if you give a path a catchy name and a guidebook it will attract more visitors to the area. But there must be a limit to the density of trails in any particular area, and I think Winchester is now past the tipping point.

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