You’re swapping one capital for another with a visit to Winchester, Hampshire’s county town that lies at the western end of the South Downs, less than an hour by train from London Waterloo. When Alfred the Great was crowned King of Wessex in 871, he made Winchester his capital, and the city remained the most influential in England for the next 300 years. Its centrepiece, both figuratively and geographically, is magnificent Winchester Cathedral, whose medieval nave, the longest in Europe, houses the tomb of Jane Austen. On the city’s fringes, you can follow in the footsteps of John Keats, who wrote Ode to Autumn after wandering through Winchester’s idyllic water meadows; the walk passes by the Hospital of St Cross, England’s oldest almshouse, which continues to offer a Wayfarer’s Dole of “a horn of beer and a morsel of bread” to passers-by. If you can time your trip for the middle or last Sunday of the month, drop by the Broadway, where the stalls of Winchester Farmers’ Market overflow with local Hampshire produce.