Cycle route from Morn Hill Club site

A wonderful ride through the chalk downs that Jane Austen called home from Morn Hill Club site.

Sadly, there are no accounts of Mr Darcy dressed in Lycra or the Dashwood sisters on mountain bikes in the novels of Jane Austen. The literary genius lived too early to see how cycling would transform tours, travel and afternoon tea but had two-wheeled transport been available, this is the landscape from which she would have drawn inspiration.

The house where Austen lived at Chawton stands very close to this gorgeous route through the South Downs from Morn Hill Club site. As one spellbinding panorama sweeps into another achingly pretty village it’s hard not to wonder what the writer would have made of the chance to range so widely through this chalk landscape.

The ride starts to the east of Winchester and heads north through the River Itchen valley, passing two stately homes fit for any costume drama. Avington House once hosted King Charles II and his mistress Nell Gwyn. The mansion sits beyond a lake in parkland grazed by Highland cattle. It opens to the public on Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays from 3 May to 27 September.

The Grange at Northington is altogether more Romantic, transformed from a modest brick house into a pillared, Ancient Greek temple during the years Austen was around. Its grounds are beautifully landscaped and it’s free to visit, making it the ideal place to stop for a break.

Elsewhere, the route rolls up and down the Downs along very quiet roads that connect villages sprinkled with ancient churches and fine-looking pubs. The highlight, beyond the two stately homes, is the lovely River Itchen, which flows fast and clear through Itchen Abbas and Ovington in a lush valley.

You can download this route from our dedicated Strava page here.

Directions

1 Turn right out of the Club site and in 100m turn right again. Continue for 1km and then turn left along Fair Lane, signposted to Easton. In 400m turn right along Long Walk. Continue to an offset crossroads.

2 3.2km – Turn right at the crossroads and continue for just over 1km to a T-junction in Easton.

3 4.4km – Turn left at the T-junction, signposted to Martyr Worthy and Winchester, and then immediately right at the next T-junction with The Cricketers Inn on your left. Ride through the village, passing The Chestnut Horse, and eventually entering Avington Country Park. Continue to a T-junction.

4 6.6km – Turn left at the T-junction, signposted to Avington and Itchen Abbas. Stay on the road as it crosses the River Itchen and passes the village church on the left, to reach a T-junction.

5 8km – Turn right at the T-junction, along the B3047 signposted to Itchen Stoke and Alresford, passing The Plough on your left. After 700m turn left along Rectory Lane, signposted to Northington and East Stratton. Ride uphill to a T-junction and turn right, signposted to Northington and East Stratton. Stay on this road for 4km to reach a crossroads.

6 13.9km – Turn right at the crossroads, signposted to Northington and Alresford. In 800m turn right, signposted to Northington Only. Continue downhill for 800m to a T-junction with the B3046. Turn right, signposted to The Grange and Alresford. Look out for a turning on the right after 800m.

7 16.3km – Turn right to The Grange and go straight ahead on a rough track, crossing a river in 400m, and taking the track on the left to The Grange. Retrace the route to the B3046 and turn right. Stay on the road for 5.5km, eventually entering Old Alresford. After passing St Mary the Virgin church on the left look out for a turning on the right as the road bends to the left.

8 23.2km – Turn right, signposted to Abbotstone. Stay on this road – bearing left towards Itchen Stoke at a T-junction – and continue to another T-junction with the B3047 in Itchen Stoke.

9  28.7km – Turn left at the T-junction, signposted to Alresford, then in 500m turn right along a singletrack road. Continue for 700m to cross the River Itchen and reach a T-junction. Turn right at the junction and in 200m follow the road 90º to the left (The Bush Inn is straight ahead), and in 100m turn right on Lovington Lane. Continue for 3km to a T-junction in Avington.

10 33.5km – Turn left into Avington then right at the end of the village, signposted to Easton and Winchester. Turn left at The Cricketers onto Chapel Lane and follow this road back to the Club site.

About the route

  • Start/finish: Morn Hill Club site, Alresford Road, Winchester, Hampshire SO21 1HL.
  • Distance: 25 miles/40km.   
  • Time: 2.5 hours (without stops). Level: Suitable for fitter cyclists. This is a hilly route, although none of the ascents are punishing. Most of the route is on very quiet singletrack roads with short sections on B roads.
  • Terrain: Asphalt all the way apart from the broken gravel track to The Grange at Northington. A hybrid, road or e-bike is ideal.
  • Landscape: Chalky fields, tall hedgerows, woods and parkland.

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