357. Totton to Beaulieu

I was not particularly looking forward to this walk for two reasons, the first being that there was going to be a lot of road walking and the second that I had developed a groin strain over my past two outings, which although not preventing me walking, meant any over-stretching of my step was painful.

Because of the above I had decided on just doing a single days walk and that being a Sunday this would present some challenges in sorting out the public transport to get me to the start of the walk. I had looked at using the the New Forest Tour bus service, but on looking closely, the cost was based on Day Tickets and the cheapest day ticket, even on a concessionary rate was £14! So, £14 for a three mile bus journey was a non-starter. So it was back to making use of my bike. I drove down to and parked in the village car park at Beaulieu and then cycled to the edge of  Dibden Purlieu. Here, I locked the bike up and caught the 07:10 #9 bus to Totton.

I made my way to the Car Park in Totton where I had finished my walk last week and set off down a quiet road towards Eling. I crossed over the unmanned Toll Road bridge at the Tide Mill and continued through the deserted village heading south-east along Marchwood and Bury roads. Although the road was quiet there ws still a footpath alongside. I soon arrived at the village of Marchwood, which was just waking up. I headed through the village and crossed over the Fawley rail branch line, which once served the nearby Military Port and Fawley Power station up till 2016. Although still intact, the road crossings gates of the line are now done by hand. The line has been marked for potential upgrade for passenger use and two “fact-finding” trains with passengers run in 2020 and 2021.

Virtually, all of this side of Southampton Water has little or no access to the shoreline. I left the Hythe Road and followed a footpath that crossed over the railway line and continued through green lanes into Hythe. By this time, my groin strain was very ‘achy’ and I did wonder if I could complete today’s walk. I decided to give it until Calshot before I made a decision. I had a rest of 15 minutes which helped somewhat. I passed through the town of Hythe, while pausing at Hythe Pier. Here a ferry service operates to Southampton. The Pier at Hythe is quite long and has an electric railway running along its length.

The Toll bridge road at Eling

Hythe Pier looking across Southampton Water to Netley

The railway at Hythe Pier

A deserted street in Hythe

Looking across to Southampton and the Ocean cruise terminus

Looking down Southampton water

I cross over the Fawley railway again heading inland to get around the huge Fawley Oil Refinery and join up with the busy A326 which leads me past Holbury village. At Newlands Road I hear the roar of engines and am surprised to come upon a small Hovercraft event. Races are well underway and I stand watch for 10 minutes. Back in the 1980’s, I built a formula 3 and Formula 1 craft., which I used to race them at national events and even took my Formula 1 craft over to Belgium to race. Unfortunately, due to lack of practice and space to practice I was never any good at it!

Hovercraft racing at Fawley

I pushed on heading for the small village centre at Fawley and then on to Ashlett Quay. Here, I was almost on the coast for the first time today. I picked up a coastal footpath and headed around the seaward edge  of  Fawley Power Station. Although shut down since 2013 the site is being demolished in stages. There are currently plans to site housing on the site, but within the perimeter fencing I could see the unmistakable outline of huge wind turbine blades, which could mean the site having a different purpose? I arrived at a point where a short swing bridge operated to let sea craft enter the site. I was amazed and quite annoyed to find the swing bridge was out of action, awaiting parts. I had not passed any signs to warn me of this closure, so it was now a case of heading over a mile back to Ashlett Quay. I decided to see if I could follow the perimeter fence around to the west over old concrete slabs, but the vegetation was quite dense and I was almost back at Ashlett Quay when I picked up another footpath that led onto the Calshot Road.

Walking around Fawley Power station

Zoomed shot to Calshot Castle

The old rotunda type control room at Fawley Power station featured in a number of films and Tv shows

GGrrrr!!!!!…………………..Ggrrrrrrr!!!

I decided to miss out doing a there and back to Calshot, as progress along shoreline west of Calshot would have probably meant trespassing. I headed down lovely tree-lined roads which unfortunately saw lots of summer traffic. The rest of the walk all the way to Beaulieu was purgatory, with continually having to step onto a verge, that was either full of thigh-high nettles or tick-laden bracken. The only respite from this hell was the brief interlude of some shoreline waking from Lepe Beach onwards to where the minor road heads towards Exbury.

Looking westwards at Lepe Beach

Looking eastwards along The Solent

The Watch House at Lepe

Easy walking alongside road north of Exbury

The sound of ‘Willow on leather’ a cricket match underway at Beaulieu

The Clock gatehouse at Beaulieu Abbey

Locals examining classic cars for sale in the village of Beaulieu

Overall, I had not intended to walk this far today and after 9.5 hours on the road I was relieved to get back to the car. A far from enjoyable walk around an area whose shoreline is dominated by industry, power stations, ports and large private properties. The enduring image of the area for me were the signs saying “We are watching you”, an area I will certainly not return to!

 

Distance today = 25 miles
Total distance = 6,635 miles

 

 

356. Lee-on-Solent to Totton

I’m doing another single days walk on the South coast, but today is going to be the longest walk since September last year. I left Shropshire in the early hours of Sunday morning and knew it was no use rushing, as the public transport I needed to get to the start of walk was not until 07:00.

I headed down the M40 and A34 along deserted roads. This was probably going to be the closest to my home I would get now before my walk was finished. I drove to and parked in the small town of Totton, on the outskirts of Southampton. I did have to pay £5 to park all day, but that was offset by using my bus pass on the two buses I needed to get to the start of my walk. I caught the 07:02 #1 bus into Southampton city centre and then the 07:45 #X5 to Lee-on-Solent. The last bus journey took well over 1.25 hours, so I was glad to get off and start walking.

I would be following the Solent Way again for most of this walk , so with good weather forecast set off at 09:00. The Solent as usual was very busy with boats and crafts of all sorts and the shoreline also had many swimmers and walkers enjoying the mild weather. I passed by the village of Hill Head and while the Solent Way headed inland slightly I managed to squeeze past and over some of the taller groynes to stay on the foreshore through to Titchfield Haven. Here I joined a road bridge to cross over the Haven outlet. I continued onwards up along Southampton Water. When I came to a small holiday village the cliff-top path I intended to take along the cliff top was no longer there, access down the cliff face was also not possible so I had to follow the detour inland around the holiday homes.

Heading along the shoreline at Hill Head

A Ruddy Turnstone at Titchfield Haven

Looking across Southampton Water to Fawley Power Station from Titchfield Haven

On the shoreline heading up Southampton Water

The pier for the ferry over to Hamble-le-Rice at Warsash

Heading north along the River Hamble at Bunny Meadows

His & Hers Jet Skis with automatic winchs attached

I soon arrived at the mouth of the River Hamble, which meant walking 6 -7 miles around to the first bridging point and then back down the opposite bank. It is possible to cut the inland walk out by taking the small passenger ferry across to Hamble-le-Rice, which takes only 5 minutes, however this was not for me. I continued past the ferry at Warsash and headed north along The Hamble on a narrow footpath just about above the water. The footpath had water either side, but was very easy going . The delightfully named Bunny Meadows, effectively a lagoon fed by the Hamble was on my right . The footpath was well-used and I passed many walkers and boat-people accessing the nearby marina.

I eventually emerged onto the busy A27 and crossed over the Hamble to begin heading south along the opposite bank. In fact I hardly saw the western bank of the Hamble as there was no little or no access to continually walk along its shore. I therefore had to head inland slightly making use of quiet lanes and footpaths. I passed through the delightful village of Bursledon and onto a footpath which took me across fields and through woods into the small village of Hamble-le-Rice. The “in-Rice” bit comes from the old English shrubland or brushland. I popped into the local Co-Op to stock up on drinks and a sandwich. I was sorely tempted by a pint of Fullers at Ye Olde Whyte Harte, but I still had a way to go yet. I headed out of the village following a footpath across Hamble Common and then back onto the shoreline.

A brief view down the Hamble from near Bursledon

The square in Hamble-le-Rice

I was now back on the shoreline of Southampton Water again and soon passed underneath a jetty emerging from an oil terminal. I then arrived in the large suburban area of Netley. Here along the shoreline was the site of the Royal Victoria Hospital, although long since gone the impressive Chapel building still remains and is a feature of the now Royal Victoria Country Park which covers an area of over 200 acres. The park was very busy and it wass good to see people out and about enjoying the sunny weather. I passed along Weston Shore and around Weston Point. I had excellent views across the River Itchen towards Southampton Passenger terminal which had two huge cruise ships currently in dock, one of which was called Sky Princess a Bermudan registered cruise ship. I walk through the recently developed area of Woolston and onto The Itchen Bridge.

Back on the shoreline of Southampton Water

Passing underneath a an Oil terminal jetty

Passing a group of Jet Ski enthusiasts

 

All that remains of the Royal Victoria Hospital – The Chapel

The Liberian registered vehicles carrier “Donington” bound for Baltimore in the USA

Zoomed shot of the Sky Princess a Bermudan registered cruise ship berthed at the passenger terminal

The Sky Princess

Approaching The Itchen Bridge

The last time I stood on the Itchen Bridge was back in 2019 when I went with my daughter to watch the England football team play Kosovo in a European Championship qualifying game at Southampton’s ground. I thought at the time when I would be crossing over this bridge again on my coastal walk. The view onwards towards Totton was essentially going to be nearly all industrial/residential through suburbia alomgside busy arterial roads. I had already plotted a couple of routes out of the City, using footpaths. I crossed over the bridge spanning The River Test and arrived back in Totton. I managed to visit a couple of historical sites on my way out, but Southampton is another city which I would like to return to at some future date.

On the Itchen Bridge looking towards St. Marys Stadium

The town walls

The Catchcold Tower

View from the town walls down to the West Quays

The ruins of Holyrood Church destroyed by German bombing in 1940 now a memorial to all lost merchant seamen and victims of the loss of The Titanic

The Tudor House and garden – now a museum

The Arcades – part of the town walls

Buddleias grow where shoppers once parked – the deserted store of Toys”R”Us closed in 2018

Crossing over the River Test at Totton

The long walk  was taking its toll as the hot weather, lack of a breeze and 24 miles had me flagging a bit. But the days walk was still very enjoyable in its remarkable contrast of views and scenery.

 

Distance today = 24 miles
Total distance = 6,610 miles

 

 

355. Portchester to Lee-on-Solent

The hotel in Gosport was quite noisy, at least up till 22:00. Every 20 minutes emergency vehicles sirens could be heard close-by, passing through a set of traffic lights, on consulting a map I could see that that an Urgent Treatment Centre was just down the road. I still managed to get a good nights sleep though.

The weather for most of the early morning would be off and on drizzle and light rain. I was up and away quite early even though I would end today’s just 4 miles away from my hotel.

I drove to Lee-on-Solent and parked up on the sea front which offered free parking. I then caught the 7:07 #x5 bus to Fareham railway station, then the 7:40 train for the short distance to Portchester. I headed south through the town towards Portchester Castle which sits on the shoreline of Portsmouth Harbour. I did make an attempt to follow a footpath marked on the map, but after 30m the overgrown vegetation totally blocked the path, with nettles stinging my legs even though I was wearing trousers. The worst bit however, was the numerous Dog Roses which have vicious barbed thorns, which I know from experience (they are in my garden at home) can do a lot of damage to clothing and skin!

I walked around the walls of Portchester Castle which are in fact the outer walls of the Roman Fort – Portus Adurni. The castle was probably built in the late 11th century and has hadmany uses and owners in its long history. I followed the shoreline path towards Camas Bay and the Wallington River. The rain started to increase as I rounded the Cams Hall Golf Club and I soon arrived on A27 to cross over the Wallington  and pass under the railway viaduct.

Overgrown and painful way forward – I retreated

Portchester Castle keep

Passing around the outer walls of the castle

Crossing over the River Wallington

Unfortunately, the next 4.5 miles were predominantly along the main road into Gosport, with just a single short stretch of footpath briefly touching the shoreline of Portsmouth Harbour. When I reached Priddy’s Yard I was able to look across to the Naval Dockyard in Portsmouth across Portsmouth Harbour. I was greeted by the amazing sight of the recently built aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales, an Elizabeth-Class carrier and sister to HMS Queen Elizabeth – now on active service. I had never seen an aircraft in the flesh before so this was a real privilege. Alongside the carrier was a replenishment tanker RFA(royal Fleet Auxiliary) Tidesurge.

The aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales

HMS Prince of Wales (R09)

 

Note the Prince of Wales three feathers

 

RFA Tidesurge

The Explosions Museum

The bridge over Foxton Lake

I walked around the perimeter of the Explosions Museum and crossed ove

r Foxton Lake by a footbridge. A mile of street walking brought me to the terminal for the Gosport to Portsmouth ferry service. I headed south west out of Gosport walking alongside the huge marina at Haslar. I crossed over the Haslar Bridge and could make out the black shape of HMS Alliance, a submarine now on display at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum. HMS Alliance was first built in 1945 and continued in active service up until 1981.

Looking back at HMS Prince of Wales and RFA Tidesurge

The Gosport – Portsmouth Ferry

HMS Alliance – Haslar

I continued SW out of the built up areaand  passed Fort Monckton and on to Gilkicker Point where I was able to walk around the boarded up Fort Gilkicker, one of the Palmerston Forts from 1863 and currently owned by Hampshire County Council, but in a very poor state of repair. I continued along the coastline towards Browndown. This area had along history of military use and appears it is still used for military training. The Solent Way is marked as going around the site, so I also followed the road into Lee-on-Solent. It was good to arrive back at my car, as although the walk was slightly shorter today it was tougher than yesterdays walk.

Fort Gilkicker

Heading along the coastline towards Browndown

Looking across The Solent towards Ryde

The Diving Museum at Browndown

At Lee-on-Solent

Looking across Southampton Water to Fawley

Distance today = 19 miles
Total distance = 6,586 miles

 

354. Langstone to Portchester

With seven more walking days left, I need to get a move on if I wanted to complete my coastal walk within the next 4 to 6 weeks, so I opt to do a two day walk with an overnight stay.

As usual, I beat the early morning commuter traffic by setting off very early from my home in Shropshire. I made excellent progress until I reached the M27 on the outskirts of Southampton, which was closed for “smart[?]” motorway upgrade. The diversion was poorly signposted and I ended up about 20 minutes late, but still able to catch my train. I parked in a free car park in Portchester. I then walked 400m to the train station and caught the 06:17 train to Havant, here I alighted and walked the short distance to the bus station and caught the 06:40 #30 bus to Hayling Island where I got off the bus at the Ship Inn.

I set off walking along the Solent Way, which followed the shoreline around Langstone Harbour. The forecast was for dry and sunny weather and already I could feel the early morning heat. At South Moor a section of the sea wall had been breached, allowing the marsh behind it to drain into the Harbour. The noise from the nearby A27 got increasingly louder until the footpath eventually ran alongside this really busy road. Fortunately, this did not last long as I was soon heading south on the sea bank around Farlington Marshes, another small promontory jutting out into Langstone Harbour.

Breach in the sea wall at South Moor

Looking west across Langstone Harbour towards Portsmouth

Walking alongside the busy A27

Heading around Farlington Marshes

Belted Galloways on Farlington Marshes

Heading back towards the A27

The Solent Way rejoined the A27 which morphed into the M27. I turned away from this and headed across a bridge onto Portsea Island alongside the equally busy A2030. Although the Solent Way hugs the shoreline, access was not possible because of the ongoing construction for improved sea defences. I was able to get back on the shoreline at Milton Common, but this was only short-lived as a marina and allotments got in my way. I made a short detour inland before emerging on the shingle beach at Eastney.

It was tough walking over the shingle, so I dropped down to the waters edge and made good progress over the firm sand. I was soon at the South Parade Peer where I could make out the Solent Forts of Horse Sand, No Mans Land and Spithead. Looking across the Solent to the Isle of Wight I make out a myriad of sailing vessels of all sorts, most of them recreational and all enjoying the hot sun. After the pier I came to Southsea Castle,built in 1544 and in remarkably good condition. The ground soon opened up to a large grassy area where I came across the Crimean War memorial and the impressive Royal Navy War Memorial with its lions on plinths in the couchant positions just like Nelson’s statue in London.

At Eastney looking across to Horse Sand Fort

Looking across to No Mans Land Fort

Heading westards along the shingle towards Portsmouth

The South Parade Pier at Southsea

Southsea Castle

Pithead Fort – now an hotel

The Crimean War Memorial

Portsmouth Naval Memorial

After stopping to watch a rather noisy hovercraft arriving from Ryde across the Solent, I entered Old Porstmouth. Although quite a small area it contained a number of old forts and defence positions, as well as old cobbled streets. At the Point, which included a couple of really enticing pubs I got my first unobstructed view of the Spinnaker Tower, which I had been looking at for the last  three walks! At 170m in height the Tower’s design and shape is certainly iconic with its nautical theme and has almost become the symbol of the city since its construction in 2005.

There were queues for the historic naval dockyard, but it had become very hot so I continued on and out of the city. Portsmouth is certainly a place I would like to come back to and explore more fully. My task now was to find my way around the high walls of the Naval dockyard which occupies a considerable portion of Portsmouth. I rejoined the A3 and made my way past the container and passenger terminals and out along the arterial roads.

At Stamshaw, I cut through residential streets to join The Pilgrims Way pass by the large Mountbatten Leisure Centre and continue along the recently constructed sea wall around Tipner Lake, which is part of Portsmouth Harbour. I emerged on a large busy roundabout on the A27, which I would stay on until the end of my days walk.

Back at the car I had then had the simple task of driving the short distance in Gosport to my hotel for the night and a much needed pint of Doombar.

Hovercraft service just in from Ryde

The ruined Garrision Church badley damaged by Enemy fire during WWII

Horatio Nelson Statue – Old Portsmouth

The Square Tower

The Round Tower

Looking across to Gosport on a fast flowing tide

Pubs in Old Portsmouth

The Spinnaker Tower from The Point in Old Portsmouth

HMS Warrior – I have only just noticed the Yacht on the left!

Looking past HMS Warrior across to Gosport

The impressive gate leading to HMS Nelson

Looking along Lake Tipner, near the Mountbatten Centre

Looking up towards Portsdown Hill and the QinetiQ BAE Systems site

Distance today = 20 miles
Total distance = 6,567 miles

 

 

353. Emsworth to Langstone via Hayling Island

I have now mapped and planned out the remaining distance to Poole and it equates to eight days of walking. I had not planned in any ‘big’ days, just circa 18 miles for each walk with an easier final leg.

Due to family matters I was on just another single day mission on a overcast but dry Sunday morning on the south coast. I left Shropshire in the small hours and as usual made very good time down to Emsworth, where I found a good place to park. I set off walking at 05:30 and even at this time I passed people out walking their dog. Within 5 minutes I had passed out of West Sussex and into Hampshire, this would be the penultimate historic County before I re-entered Dorset where my walk will end.

Todays walk, although taking in a small section of the mainland, would be predominantly around Hayling Island, another of the many promontories jutting out into the Solent. I made my way around Emsworth and picked up The Solent Way. I headed along the shore passing through the large Warblington Cemetery. I think this was the first time I had followed a walking trail through a cemetery. I soon arrived at Langstone, the end of my walk! But first I had to try and do a circular walk around Hayling Island. The eastern side of the Island had few opportunities to walk along the shoreline, so it was a case of making my way along country lanes, residential streets and the odd footpath. I must admit this first section of the walk held little interest for me, so it was of some relief to arrive at East Stoke on the coast and look across the entrance to Chichester Harbour and East Wittering where I had been two walks back.

Early morning looking across the Tide Pool at Emsworth

Goodbye West Sussex hello Hampshire

Rounding the head of the Emsworth Channel

The Mill at Langstone

The bridge over to Hayling Island

The 16th Century Old Fleet Manor in the village of Fleet

South Hayling is the place where the majority of people live and although not the usual seaside resort offers open views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight. I was now walking westwards along the coastline of a high shingle beach. I soon came across the Hayling Railway, a small mini-gauge single track running for about a mile along the sea front to a small fun fair. Although, this was a Sunday morning everything, apart from the odd ‘greasy spoon’ was closed. I made my way around the tip of the Island at Gunner Point and could see Fort Cumberland on Portsea Island where I would be walking on my next walk. I arrived at the Ferry Inn and then turned due east walking along the road walking for about a mile before turning through residential streets aiming for the Hayling Billy footpath.

Looking across to East Wittering

Heading westwards along the shoreline looking towards Portsmouth

The loco sheds for Hayling Railway

On the track at South Hayling

The end of the line near the fun fair

Looking across to Fort Cumberland on Portsea Island

Looking across to Ryde on The Isle of Wight from Gunner Point

At the Ferry Boat Inn looking across to Eastney

The Hayling Billy footpath is set on the route of a short railway branch line from Havant down to Hayling. The was an important link in the Mid-19th century for goods and passengers, particularly during the summer months. The line was closed in 1963, but the remnants of the railway bridge across to the Island can still be seen at Langstone. Arriving back at Langstone I had completed my walk around the island. From there I caught a #30 bus into Havant and then a #700 for the short ride back to Emsworth. The journey back home was beset with traffic queues, which made for a long day.

Heading north up alongside the Langstrone Channel on the Hayling Billy track

Teasels near Langstone

The bridge across to Hayling at Langstrone

The old track and bridge remnants of the Hayling Billy line. Notice the reconditioned signals

Distance today = 18 miles
Total distance = 6,547 miles