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A walk into Winchester

The other day we took the footpaths from Shawford to Winchester. It was a lovely morning, with cows in the fields and swans in the streams.

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Swans and cygnets on the Itchen Navigation, which is part of an ingenious network of waterways. Men and women created this landscape over thousands of years, beginning with St Catherine's Hill, an Iron Age fort close to Winchester. The country is a quiet joy.

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Hay field outside Winchester city walls. Once, a community of men, women and children harvested hay. Today two men and a baler are all that are needed.

At St Cross, we found the 11 Light Brigade, recently returned from Afghanistan, preparing for their homecoming march into the city. At the command of democratically elected leaders they had done their best bravely. Despite receiving inadequate equipment, they served without complaint. They lost 64 men.

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Crowds lined Winchester streets to welcome the soldiers and military bands. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, was on hand to inspect and greet them. A service of thanksgiving and remembrance was held in the cathedral to recognize their sacrifice.

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