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Garnier Road, St Cross, Winchester

From Openwaterpedia

Created By Pamela Jones for Outdoor Swimming Society

Starts and finish: SO23 9QG for Garnier Road or SO23 9SD for St Cross Hospital, Five Bridges Road map reference below, The Bridge, Shawford SO21 2BP The River Itchen is a very clear, shallow, fast flowing chalk stream. This swim takes you down to St Cross Hospital (the almshouses and Norman church) and on to Five Bridges Road and, if you want, on to Shawford to join the swim described at Compton Lock. The whole swim is two miles, about half a mile to St Cross and another half a mile to Five Bridges Road. Be warned. This swim if done in totality involves your walking across private land briefly on two occasions. You should wear swimming shoes/socks. THE SWIM The swim is very pretty, shallow enough at points to consider wading or "commando crawling" so you might like to wear swim gloves. The current is very fast which is fun. The water is very cold and clear and one of my companions uses a snorkel to see the flora and fauna. There may be fishermen on the stretch down from Five Bridges Road. From Garnier Road to St Cross, the river is overhung with trees; as you come round a corner you will get a stunning view of the buildings and church; by St Cross, there are lovely grassy banks where families picnic. This is another good starting point; from St Cross it opens out a little and the flowers are lovely; after Five Bridges Road it becomes wide and shallow with lovely meadow views; after the old railway viaduct and motorway bridge, the banks have been lovingly reconstructed and planted as a Millennium project and the river is fairly narrow. Watch out for the slide/weir into Compton Lock which is a natural pool where there will be a lot of children swimming and jumping in. PEDESTRIANS From Garnier Road, your companions can walk along the Itchen Way to the right of the Remarkable building to St Cross where they can wait for you on the grassy banks. From St Cross Hospital, they can walk on down the path out of sight of the river to the Five Bridges Road which is now overgrown and a single track road. Turn left and watch the swimmers come down stream and under the bridge. Below the bridge over the M3, the Itchen way runs alongside the river so your companions can walk with you. They should walk to the end of Five Bridges Road, cross the feeder road to the M3 and walk right, under the motorway bridge on the left hand path and can meet you as you swim from under the bridge. STARTS AND FINISH There are laybys in Garnier Road and a car park at the eastern end which is often full of walkers' cars. Getting in is via a few steps through a stile marked "Private" just to the left of the river bridge which is to the left of the old pumping station on Garnier Road now occupied by Remarkable. Walk through the wooded area and get in to the river to your right. Wear wading/swimming shoes. This stretch of the river ends at a mill. You have to get out at a tiny bridge on the left a few hundred yards before the mill and make your way through to another stretch of the river and swim on down under the Five Bridges bridge. If you can't find this crossing which is at the north end of a private garden, find a spot to get out on the right before the wooden fence and walk round on to Five Bridges Road, turn left and get in again just after the bridge by going through a hole in the hedge to your right. This is another getting out point if you have a car parked on Five Bridges Road. You can also get out just after the motorway bridge. There is layby on the feeder road for the M3 (road to Twyford). If you swim to Compton Lock, you can get out there or commando crawl on down as far as you can bear it. The Itchen Way takes walkers to the Shawford/Twyford Road. Lots of parking on the road, in the car park at the station at weekends, at the Bridge pub or at a car park above the station. Pub The bridge at Shawford has nice food and lovely outside seating Map Ref. for Five Bridges Road,or.r_gc.r_pw.&ion=1&biw=1680&bih=853&bs=1&wrapid=tljp131409232707630&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x48740d70aebc1959:0xe95d0cd123b34941,Five+Bridges+Rd,+Winchester+SO23+9&gl=uk&ei=R3VTTtOhH8Oi8QP8_9mHBg&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&ct=title&resnum=1&sqi=2&ved=0CBsQ8gEwAA


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