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.
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.
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.
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.
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