The route: day by day

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Fresh on the excitement of being filmed by the BBC and listed as number 3 in Country Walking Magazine’s “12 great walks for 2012”, here is the route broken down into day stages for campers. Shortly I’ll post up a similar breakdown for walkers who prefer the comforts of a B&B guesthouse.

The end to end route of The Games Way is the same for camping and B&B, but the days have slightly different start and end points in a few places.

Day 1: Portland to Durdle Door. 14 miles.

View Walk2012 – 1: Portland to Durdle Door in a larger map

This day is pretty much all along the South West Coastal Path and is very easy to follow – just keep the sea on the right and the land on the left and you’ll be fine. Be warned though, there are a couple of steep climbs, but not as tough as Day 2! We camp just short of Lulworth Cove – if you prefer there is a YHA hostel in Lulworth and a couple of small hotels and restaurants. The campsite has a pub/restaurant onsite and plenty of other facilities.

Durdle Door

Day 2: Durdle Door to Wareham. 15 miles.

View Walk2012 – 2: Durdle Door to Wareham in a larger map

Easily the toughest day of the walk with a series of steep climbs along the coast path. You will be well rewarded with some spectacular views and a fossil forest so it is worth the effort …and you get Corfe Castle thrown in too :-) We pass 2 campsites, one just after Corfe Castle, and one just short of Wareham, which is the one I propose to use.

Day 3: Wareham to Wimborne. 18 miles.

View Walk2012 – 3: Wareham to Wimborne in a larger map

Away from the coast and the route is less signposted as we make our way through Wareham Forest and eventually along the river Stour to Wimborne. There is a 5-star campsite option, but £30+ a night feels a bit steep so I’m proposing a more cost-effective site.

Day 4: Wimborne to Red Shoot (New Forest). 17 miles.

View Walk2012 – 4: Wimborne to Red Shoot in a larger map

A mix of river, pasture and disused railway to Ringwood, and then we head off into the gorgeous New Forest, camping at Red Shoot with a popular pub/restaurant on our doorstep. I love this bit of the walk.

If enough people sign up for the walk in July to make it worthwhile, we will divert to Lyndhurst and have a fantastic night in the care of Girlguiding UK at Foxlease House. This adds a few miles to the walk but that just means more time in incredible countryside with wild ponies, birdsong and flowers – an incredible sensory feast.

Bolderwood, New Forest

Day 5: Red Shoot to Romsey. 18 miles.

View Walk2012 – 6: Red Shoot to Romsey in a larger map

More fun in the forest and a crucial stop at the Royal Oak in Fritham (for me it’s the best pub in the New Forest) before hitting Nomansland and heading east towards Romsey and the river Test. There are NO CAMPSITES in or near Romsey, so it is either wild camping by the Test or in Ampfield Wood, or a comfy bed in a B&B in Romsey.

Note – if we do go to Foxlease House in Lyndhurst there will be an extra day of beautiful walking from Lyndhurst to Nomansland, and then a shorter walk from Nomansland to Romsey the day after.

Day 6: Romsey to Winchester. 14 miles.

View Walk2012 – 7: Romsey to Winchester in a larger map

Romsey to Winchester is (as our route-tester Victoria James is painfully aware) is the trickiest stage of the walk in terms of following the route directions, not least because it involves a couple of spells in the woods and it is easy to get turned around and lose the route. That said, it also has some of the prettiest riverside walk as we follow the river Itchen into Winchester.

As with Romsey, there are no campsites in Winchester. I will be speaking to the good folk in Hampshire Council to see if they can help me find somewhere suitable, but failing that it will be another B&B night I’m afraid.

Winchester Cathedral, start of St Swithun's Way

Day 7: Winchester to Bishop’s Sutton. 10 miles.

View Walk2012 – 8: Winchester to Bishop Sutton in a larger map

The next 3 days see us follow St Swithun’s Way from Winchester to Farnham. It is mostly over farmland although the first day includes some gorgeous water meadows too. Felix and I walked this leg on the day of the Royal Wedding and we met some lovely people in The Ship at Bishop’s Sutton, including a lady who worked for Ordnance Survey, a chap who’d just run a marathon and and a very friendly german shepherd! Through them we got permission to camp in a field by the river and we propose to do the same in the summer. Failing that, there is a campsite (Two Hoots) with wooden pods a couple of miles further on which sounds good too.

Day 8: Bishop’s Sutton to Bentley. 17 miles.

View Walk2012 – 9: Bishop Sutton to Bentley in a larger map

This stage of the walk is almost entirely across farmland and the rolling hills of Hampshire, interspersed with a couple of copses and small settlements. Despite being in Hampshire the walk is surprisingly remote and it is a good idea to bring your food with you as there are few options. That said, Bentley has a pub with food but it is a bit out of the way of the proposed wild camp site. When Felix and I did this leg we were too tired to divert to the pub (yes, really) so we just pitched the tent, ate some cous cous and slept like the dead!

Day 9: Bentley to Puttenham. 12 miles.

View Walk2012 – 10: Bentley to Puttenham in a larger map

St Swithun’s Way finishes at Farnham and we pick up the North Downs Way by the train station. Hint: The Mulberry does a FANTASTIC brunch, extremely restorative :-)

There is a definite change in nature of the walk once we are on the North Downs Way. It heads due East and so there is a good sense of progress. As with St Swithun’s Way there is a lot of farmland and a few woods, including a charming fairy tree. I feel the landscape is somehow more open and there are times when you can see for miles and miles.

It would be quite easy to walk until Guildford, but at Puttenham there is an eco-camping barn next to a fine pub called The Good Intent, whereas there is no camping at Guildford.

Day 10: Puttenham to Weybridge. 18 miles.

View Walk2012 – 11: Puttenham to Weybridge in a larger map

It sounds long, but it is a very easy and pleasing walk following the Wey Navigation all the way into Weybridge. The scenery is beautiful and the Wey Navigation is steeped in history. The campsite is the Caravanning and Camping Club’s site in Chertsey – if anyone in the group is a member then we can get a lower rate :-)

Day 11: Weybridge to Putney. 15 miles.

View Walk2012 – 12: Weybridge to Putney in a larger map

We take the Thames Path to Kingston and then skip with the deer across Richmond Park and Barnes Common before rejoining the Thames Path at Putney Bridge. Sadly there are no camp sites here and I can’t recommend wild camping so I think it will be a guesthouse (or 5-star hotel if you prefer) for the last night of the walk!

Day 12: Putney to the Olympic Park. 15 miles.

View Walk2012 – 13: Putney Bridge to Olympic Stadium in a larger map

Ah, the final day of the walk, and the only day that is virtually all on pavement. We take the Thames Path through Battersea, Pimlico, and along the South Bank past Westminster, crossing over before or at Tower Bridge to go through Wapping to Limehouse Basin. Here we pick up Regent’s Canal and then cross Victoria Park in Hackney to the Green Way and the Olympic Park. Ta-da!

Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium

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