Wednesday 24th July 2013
Got a taxi from the hotel to the ferry terminal in Southampton. Took the Hythe Ferry across Southampton Water. The pier at Hythe is about a third of a mile long but a small railway takes you to the end. From the pier train walked straight ahead and then turned left to follow the main road through town.
The weather is a bit cooler today, a bit cloudy but it looks like it is going to break up and be sunny again. There has been some rain. Not actually following the Solent Way at the moment but taking a more direct route through Hythe. Go up hill to a junction and then continue straight ahead on Langdown Lawn (GR433073). Pass Tescos and follow the main road as it forks right (GR422069). Reach a roundabout and carry on straight ahead signposted Dibden Purlieu (GR417067). Pass some shops at Dibden Purlieu to reach the roundabout on the Hythe By Pass (A326) (GR411059).
At the roundabout continue straight ahead on the B3054 signposted to Beaulieu. Now on the Solent Way again except that it actually runs the other side of the hedge rather than on the road and there is no way to reach it. Enter the New Forest National Park. Reach and cross a cattle grid (GR407055) where it is possible to get on the proper path on the heath.
Follow the road with good walking on the heath beside it. After a long straight walk across the heath reach the Royal Oak at Hill Top (GR401032). Continue on the main road which enters Beaulieu Estate and becomes enclosed by trees, fences and hedges. After the Beaulieu sign the road drops down to reach Home Farm and then Beaulieu itself.
Pass the cricket club founded in 1849 by Lord Montagu. Cross the Mill Dam bridge in to Beaulieu (GR387023) to reach the Montagu Arms. Just to the left of the Montagu Arms follow a signposted footpath, past the fire station and the Montagu Arms car park and through a gate onto a footpath. This is a wide gravel track through the estate’s fields with the water away to the left.
Reach Bailey’s Hard (GR394013) where the building with a large chimney is the old brickworks for the estate. This is a very pleasant footpath through the woods. A long straight path from Bailey’s Hard leads to Keeping Marsh (GR406007) where it comes out into more open countryside and swings to the right.
Soon see the boats in the marina on the left as Buckler’s Hard is approached. At the road takes the footpath to the left of the car park and follow the path as it swings right alongside the water. Reach the café at the river cruise pier and turn right up into the village (GR409001). Reached the Yachtsman’s Bar of the Master Builders. Pleasant pint of Doom Bar followed by a pint of Guinness and a pint of Ringwood bitter sitting outside in the sunshine.
Leave Buckler’s hard by climbing up between the two rows of houses to the road. Take the road straight ahead signposted St Leonards. Reach a T-junction and turn left, St Leonards signposted half a mile (GR406989). As the road turns right reach St Leonards with its interesting barn and ruins.
This a rather long road walk but through decent countryside and quiet roads so probably better than shingle beaches and oil refineries. Reach the Log House from which there glimpses of the Solent and the Isle of Wight beyond it. Not much sea today – all countryside. Just a hundred yards further on there is a sign about Needs Oar Point which was an advanced landing ground. It was built in April 1944 to support the Normandy landings and only lasted until July 1944 when the hundred or so Typhoons went to Normandy. There is a memorial photograph of Wing Commander Reg Baker DFC and Typhoon pilots who flew from here.
Half a mile past Bergerie Farm (GR394977) reach Thorn’s Corner where Lodge Lane goes off to the right. Continue straight ahead and after a few hundred yards turn left signposted Sowley Lane. Reach Sowley Pond (GR376964). Getting hot, about 24 degrees, so stopped for a rest. Leave Sowley Pond and after a large field on the right and a small z bend there should be a footpath on the right which is the Solent Way (GR372963). It is very overgrown so carried on to the next entry point (GR368962) which is at the end of the next large field.
Turn right off the road on a public footpath. At the top of the field turn left to rejoin the Solent Way. This is through some pleasant woodland and then over a footbridge and stile to go alongside a field heading towards a couple of houses (GR362963). Once again the water is just about visible at the end of the field as is the Isle of Wight. Leave the field by a kissing gate to reach a road junction.
Continue on the road straight ahead over the cattle grid. As the road turns right after Pylewell Home Farm keep straight ahead on a track. Pass a couple of cottages and then keep straight ahead over a stile to a green pathway. Over a footbridge to a fishing pond (GR355962) and turn right round the edge of the pond. After a few yards leave the pond and continue on a marked footpath over a little plank bridge into woodland. Another pleasant track through woodland and think I saw a deer here. Reach a kissing gate by the cricket gate and through this on to a gravel track leading straight ahead. That was Pylewell Park Cricket Club.
Reach a small metalled road and cross over to reach a kissing gate and continue straight ahead. This is Pylewell Park with a large house across to the left. Walk along the left-hand edge of a small field and a large field. At the end of the large field the path turns right just on the edge of some woodland. The path crosses a small stream and stile. Soon after the path turns left and leaves the big field on to a broad track. Reach a minor road and turn right (GR344959).
Reach a crossroads where there is a gatehouse presumably to Pylewell House. Cross over and continue straight ahead. After about 150 yards turn left down a byway signposted Solent Way (GR343963). Another old airfield here – Lymington Airfield which was the base for eighty P47D Thunderbolts, fighter bombers of the 50th Fighter Group of the 9th US tactical airforce. They operated here from the 5th April to 24th June 1944. There is still a private airstrip here of the New Town Park Estate.
Reached the road at Snook’s Farm (GR340962), turn left and then after about 50 yards turn right at a fingerpost for the Solent Way. This is yet another pleasant woodland path. The path reaches the road at a pick your own farm (GR333958). Cross the road and follow a track and after a few yards a footpath off to the left. This leads onto a track in front of a bungalow. Reach a road and turn right and after about a quarter of a mile as the road turns right, turn left at an impressive monument (GR333959). The monument is to Sir Harry Burrard Neale who apparently suppressed the mutiny at the Nore in 1797.
Carry on past the monument on a woodland path to reach a main road and the water. Turn right into Walhampton. Turned left and over the bridge into Lymington. At the main road turn left and further down the road turn left down to Lymington Town railway station to get the train back to Southampton.
A good days walking with lots of interesting places like the Hythe Ferry, Beaulieu, Buckler’s Hard etc. A bit too much road work and hot but a good day.
Days from Chepstow 121
Miles today 15.1
Miles from Chepstow 1613.5