28th May 2015
Beaulieu to Netley – 22km (13.7m)
The day did not start that well, Cookie and I set out early and managed to catch the train just in time, the plan was to alight at Southampton Central then to get the shuttle bus to the Hythe Ferry, I asked the station assistant where to meet the bus and he directed me in the right direction, having waited a while and no sign of the bus I decided to ask another bus driver who said that the Hythe Ferry was not running today. I had to get back on the train and travelled round to Brockenhurst, Carlos the taxi driver then took me to Beaulieu. I’ve come to the conclusion that Beaulieu is a very difficult place to get to without a car.
Shortly after arriving in Beaulieu, I rejoined the Solent Way and eventually started walking at 11am from where i had left off previously, this was three hours after i had set out from home. On leaving Beaulieu i saw Dave the tramp asleep on the grass by the the river, his possesions in a cardboard box on a trolley. The Solent way left Beaulieu following the B3054 for 5km and this I found really horrible as the road was very busy and loads of lorries going passed kept kicking up dust, there really wasn’t anywhere else to walk other than on the roadside. Having looked at the map i’m sure there could have been a better way to walk than this, however the pace i kept up was pretty quick so that i could get into more peaceful surroundings.
It was such a relief when cookie and I eventually left the road and entered into the forest. I decided that i would let her off her lead, as usual she didnt venture far and just stuck to my heels, all through herds of cows and strings of ponies and yet she wasn’t phased at all even when the ponies came up to us.
We walked for a few km through the open forest following a route that we use on the last day of the Explorers silver D of E. After leaving the forest we followed an old track through some woods passed some houses and down into Hythe, this is where we met the Solent again after walking across the New Forest, the boats on this part of the Solent were certainly different than from before as they ranged from small dinghies to enormous cargo ships and from the Isle of Wight ferry to Queen Victoria and Ventura cruise liners, the landscape has now changed to an industrialised metropolis.
A short walk along the waterfront and we reached the ferry and sure enough there was a sign saying no ferries, i was so gutted that i couldn’t go across by boat, i was told that a boat had hit the pier and that they had to stop the ferries while they checked it out, so I bought a ticket and asked if I could go up the pier anyhow. The ticket seller called for the driver of the Hythe Pier Train and he appeared from his office, he took the brakes off the train and asked me to board. Cookie and i were the only passengers that would be travelling up the 640m of the Hythe Pier on the oldest continuosly operating pier train in the world, it was a rickety ride and took about 10 minutes to get to the end, absolutely brilliant. A few phots at the end and then the train bought us back to the harbour, we disappointedly boarded the coach that was to take us to town quay.
The coach took around 20 minutes to get to Town Quay we disembarked had a quick walk around the quay and then set out on the last leg of the day. We were now walking past offices, houses, pubs and clubs of this bustling city, we also walked passed ocean village and across the 800m of the Itchen Bridge and into Woolston, the bridge reaches a height of 28m and commands some great views across the city and up the Itchen. Walking in Woolston was along the main shopping street towards the waterfront, however there was a lot of building work going on, so we were a little diverted but not taken too far off track before we were back on the water front at Weston Point. As we walked along Weston Shores it was the quietest part of the day as we were away from homes and roads, we also had a great view of the cargo ships that were leaving the harbour. It’s amazing how they float!
The walk along the waterfront past Weston shores is mainly on a promenade and the shoreline between here and Netley is a muddy one, but beautiful none the less. When we reached Netley Castle (now private residences) we knew that we were nearing the end of the day, Cookie was pleased as she was shattered. A short walk up to the station to meet the car.