13. Hampshire

120. Lee-on-the-Solent to Southampton

Tuesday 23rd July 2013

Left our new house on Newcastle Avenue at 5.30am. Been a night of really bad thunderstorms and quite a bit of water outside which got worse in the morning and apparently flooded Devonshire Avenue. Drove to the Premier Inn, West Quay, Southampton, parked up and eventually found the railway station to get a train to Fareham. Taxi to Lee-on-Solent (GR562005).

Set off along the seafront towards Southampton. Weather – it has been extremely hot for the last three weeks and the thunderstorms last night were the breaking of that. Today it is sunny, a bit cloudy, about 24 degrees and quite humid. Soon reached the end of the path by a slipway and climbed up to the road opposite the hovercraft museum (GR558011). Walked on a good wide grass verge on top of some low cliffs alongside a road until it curved off to the right at the airfield. Continue ahead through a car park and beach huts. Pass the Seafarers Sailing Club and reach a car park and turned left at the wall to go on the shingle beach.

The Princess Margaret and The Princess Anne at hovercraft museum, Lee-om-the-Solent (GR558011)

After a couple of hundred yards just before a small headland took a path up between the houses (GR545019).  It was probably possible to get along even though the tide was in, but it was hard work on the shingle. Turned left at the road to reach the Osborne View – a Cunard ship themed eating pub. Had a pint of Hopping Hare. May have a view of Osborne as the Isle of Wight is clearly visible across the water. Continued along Cliff Road until just before Hillhead where dropped down some concrete steps to the shore again.

Titchfield Haven Nature Reserve (geograph.org.uk)

Reached the road again and went round the harbour (GR535023) to Titchfield Haven Nature Reserve. As the road swings away to the right continue along the beach in front of some large beach chalets (Meon Shore Chalets) – an alternative is to use the service road for the chalets. At the end of the chalets climb up on a path onto the low cliffs. The power station chimney (Fawley) which has been visible since leaving Lee-on-Solent is now very obvious across the water and to the right is Fawley oil refinery.

This is quite a pleasant path between tall hedges with occasional glimpses of water and it drops down to the sea again at Sea House (GR517034). The path soon climbs back on top of the low cliffs. The path runs alongside a huge arable field to reach a path junction. Turn left towards the water and reach the caravan park (GR507039). Actually it is more chalets than bungalows. Can’t see a way to walk through the middle of the park here. Eventually followed the exit signs to reach the public road at GR506043. Solent Way footpath sign here so turned left.

Beach at Hillhead (geograph.org.uk)

At a junction just after the power transmission lines turn left and head back down to the water after about a half mile diversion. After a few yards take an asphalt path diagonally to the right across a field and just after a sub-station at a T-junction join the proper path by turning right. Now turning into the Hamble Estuary with the power station, oil refinery and shipping visible on the other side of the river. A shingle path eventually meets a low sea wall. At the end of the sea wall turn right to take a path around a lagoon.

Pass the pier (GR491056) at the boatyard – another pier has been in view for a long while causing confusion but it is farther up the river. Reached the Rising Sun at Warsash (GR490061) and had lunch there. After lunch continued along the waterside to eventually reach the pink-purple hut for the ferry to Hamble (GR488064). Took the ferry across to Hamble (GR485067).

The Rising Sun, Warsash (geograph.org.uk)

Cross the car park and turn left keeping on the road instead of the footpath. At a road junction (GR482067) turned left downhill. At the next road junction turn left on School Lane. As the road bends left take a footpath to the right. Reach Southampton Water at Hamble Common and turn right. At a footpath junction in the woods take the Solent Way signposted to the left. Walk along the sea wall to a jetty that has been visible for a long while (GR477062).

Now walking alongside the oil refinery that has been visible for some time – the jetty has a pipeline feeding the oil refinery. The sea wall ends at the end of the oil refinery and need to walk along the shingle beach. After some way along the beach a Solent Way sign points to the right through some woods to meet a road (GR470069). Turn left along the road through Westfield Common. After a few hundred yards turn left and head towards the water again and then turn right along the water’s edge.

This is good path along the top of the low cliffs. Reach the slipway where the path ends and continue along the beach towards the sailing club. The path turns left at the sailing club to join the waterside road through Royal Victoria Country Park. An interesting building here with a tower on top of it. (It is in fact the chapel of the Royal Victoria Hospital, a military hospital built in 1856). On leaving the Royal Victoria Country Park reach the slipway at Netley Hard (GR458081). Follow the road down to Weston Hard (GR441098). The rest of the walk is mainly on roads.

Royal Victoria Hospital Chapel (geograph.org.uk)

Stopped in the Prince Consort for a beer. Not a particularly nice pub but it sells beer. Netley looks like a working town but just outside is Netley Abbey, an interesting ruin. Past the abbey it is possible to leave the road and join a footpath between the road and the water. At Weston Hard the road turns sharp right but keep straight ahead on the footpath. Southampton Sailing Club is at Weston Point (GR435102) from which can be seen the high road bridge into Southampton. Pass the Ship Inn at Woolston.

West Quay, Southampton (geograph.org.uk)

Walk past the shops in Woolston and cross the traffic lights to climb up left on the steps up to the bridge over Southampton Water. Down steps at the other end of the bridge and continue straight ahead on the footpath. After a few yards turn left on the road. Straight ahead at the lights into Ocean Village and the cinema. Got lost and wandered around a newly developed area eventually finding the A33 again. Walked through Southampton to the Premier Inn at West Quay only to find that I had actually booked the Premier City Centre which was not the same place.

Days from Chepstow   120

Miles today   14.3

Miles from Chepstow   1598.4

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