About the challenge
Join us for a beautiful, diverse trek over marathon distance, linking two of England’s most famous and impressive cathedrals.
Winchester Cathedral dates back to 1079 and houses Jane Austen’s tomb. We leave the Cathedral and pass through the quiet leafy outskirts of historic Winchester, the ancient capital of Wessex and city of King Alfred the Great.
Our route takes us through picturesque English countryside and villages as we head west through farmland, woodland and quiet chalk valleys. We cross the lovely River Test and follow an ancient Roman Road towards the beautiful market city of Salisbury. Our destination is the magnificent 13th-Century Salisbury Cathedral, home to one of only four original copies of the Magna Carta, and we’ll be able to see its distinctive spire – the highest in the UK – rising out of the surrounding green fields well before we reach the city.
This is a tough event over the rolling downs and water-meadows between the historic cities of Winchester and Salisbury. At 26 miles, it forms an enormous challenge for walkers; you can run or jog if you prefer. There will be full support throughout the challenge with marshals and water stops along the route.
Our challenging day starts at Winchester, ancient capital of Wessex and city of King Alfred the Great. We set off from the impressive Cathedral early in the morning – essential for completing the distance – and are able to appreciate the abundant historic buildings as we head through the quiet streets well before the shoppers descend!
We initially follow the Itchen valley, climbing our first hill before the city’s outskirts have dropped behind us. We then head west through woodland and farmland. The landscape is dotted with ancient earthworks: we are never far from ancient history in this area. We reach King’s Somborne, a peaceful, historic village mentioned in the Domesday Book and site of a royal hunting forest and John O’ Gaunt’s Palace. Soon after we cross the picturesque River Test; our half-way point lies nearby.
A stiff climb sees us leaving the Test Valley behind us and we cross rolling downs with fabulous views. This area was a favoured hunting ground for Norman and Saxon Kings; we follow a Roman Road which cuts unswerving through the landscape. Roman soldiers travelled this way and ghostly stories abound!
Our route continues to dip and climb as we cross the hills between small villages, getting closer and closer to Salisbury. On a clear day you will see the magnificent Cathedral spire – at 404ft it is the highest in the UK – on the horizon from many miles away. Passing Clarendon Palace, a hunting lodge ruin dating back to Norman times, we’re not far from Salisbury and we drop down towards the old streets and the city’s beautiful Cathedral, where we have our finish line.
Once you’ve relaxed and rested, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Salisbury Cathedral (free entry for Trekathon participants and their friends/family members). You can also enjoy the lovely green spaces of the historic Cathedral Close, celebrating with your fellow achievers before returning home.
Total distance: 26 miles / 42 km
Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.
The cost includes experienced Discover Adventure leaders and support staff throughout to manage the event safely and enjoyably, marshalling stops with lunch, water and snacks and an optional transfer from Salisbury to the start point.
The cost excludes personal insurance (optional), any parking fees or transport costs and accommodation if required. Approx. £50 is recommended for personal expenses. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency mobile phones, medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency UK back-up. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires – is all done with your safety in mind.
Worldwide Sustainable Tourism
Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through. AITO, our Trade Association, has recognised the work we do in this area and has awarded us 5 stars as a Responsible Tour Operator.
Discover Adventure Projects
We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up.
We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with The Conversation Volunteers and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org or call 01302 388883.
Preparing for the challenge
Walking Information and Training
A coach transfer will take us from Salisbury – where you can park – to the start in Winchester. There are good rail links to both Salisbury and Winchester if you prefer to travel by train. Groups may set off at staggered intervals (depending on numbers) but you can go at your own pace. The full 26-mile walk should take approximately 8-9 hours for fit and strong walkers; others should allow longer. It may take some walkers up to 12 hours. This is not a competitive event! You can go at your own pace, but if we are concerned about you being able to finish the distance safely, we will recommend you stop early. An early start is vital to allow everyone the chance to complete the distance. The event will start at approx 7am from Winchester. Further information will be sent once you have registered for the event.
We trek mainly on grass or gravel paths but there are some small tarmac roads. Some sections may be muddy. There are steep inclines both up and down but the majority is over rolling downs. The environment we walk through needs the respect of all its users to be preserved. Please walk on the path surface rather than on the vegetation growing beside it, don’t remove stones from the paths and don’t take short-cuts. Please follow the Countryside Code.
This is a long and tough one-day walk and it is consequently vital that you train sufficiently for it. We will supply you with a thorough training guide once you have registered. The more training that you do the more you will enjoy the experience! We are always happy to talk through the trip in more detail with you if you are worried about your fitness at any stage.
Be prepared for any weather! This may only be a one-day event, but you still need appropriate, good quality footwear and clothing to cope with the weather conditions, terrain and distance.
Clothing & Equipment
We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice. Each person should bring a small daypack to carry lunch, camera, waterproofs, sun cream, a warm fleece and any other items needed during the day.
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. This is not a race and we design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace – within reason! Due to safety and logistical reasons there will be an achievable cut-off time. There will be vehicles at certain check-points to transport any walkers who will not be able to manage the distance in time. Therefore it’s important to train hard to complete your challenge.
Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Please feel free to ask us for advice