Firsdown is only a couple of miles from the famous Clarendon Way walk, a 24 mile walk joining the two Wessex cities of Winchester and Salisbury crossing the Test Valley between Kings Somborne and Houghton. It starts beside the waters of the Itchen in the heart of Winchester and ends near the Avon at Salisbury Cathedral. It provides a splendid variety of scenery along the way, ranging from the water meadows of the valleys with their charming villages through woodland – ancient as well as modern – to downlands with far-ranging views.
The Clarendon Way is named from Clarendon Park on the eastern edge of Salisbury. The Park contains the site of Clarendon Palace, a royal hunting lodge for Norman Kings, but later expanded by the Plantagenets into a great county house. Almost nothing remains now, only a few feet of flint wall lying a few yards from the Clarendon Way.
At Winchester one sees smaller remains which are even older, a few stones beside the River Itchen which are all that survive from the Roman wall built around the City in the 3rd Century. A mile down the valley lies the hospice of St Cross where even 400 years ago the choir boys carved their names on the stalls in the chapel.
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