Beaulieu to Netley

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

 

Lymington to Beaulieu

26th May 2015

Lymington to Beaulieu – 19.8 km (12.3 miles)

Today I’m on my own as Susan had stuff to get on with at home, so i set out early and parked up in Beaulieu this way I could catch the first bus from the village at 09:28am. Buses in Beaulieu are few and far between and only pass through 4 times on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

On approaching the bus stop I saw this old man sitting there, he wore a fur coat with a fur hat that covered his ears and had pheasant feathers coming out of it. Beneath his hat i could make out that he had very long straggerly grey hair and an unkempt beard. As soon as i was near the bus stop he moved his bags over and was offering me a seat, the impression i got was that he was an eccentric local. The old man was very chatty and had a slight country accent so I asked if he lived locally, he said that he slept there, and pointed to the bench behind the bus stop. David was his name and he explained in a very animated fashion how the authorities are trying to move him out the village as he had no where to live.

The bus arrived 5 minutes late from the opposite direction that i thought so we waved it down and ran across the road to board. David also got on the bus too and sat downstairs, I went upstairs to get better views across the forest. The bus wound itself through the country lanes in the forest and everytime someone got on i could here David greet them, i think he is a well known character locally. I was the only one that sat upstairs and i was soon to realise why no one else was up here! I don’t think double decker buses are designed for going through the forest as the trees seemed lower than the bus and we kept hitting so many branches, the racket that it made as they hit the roof was so loud, I must also confess that I ducked when we went under a low bridge.

The bus dropped me off at the post office in Lymington High Street, so after i quickly popped into Boots to get some more suncream and then i set off back to the quayside where we finished the day before.

It’s absolutely incredible how each day can be such a contrast along the small part of coastline that i have walked, but today is set to be different yet again as i head slightly inland and into the New Forest.

On leaving the yachting mecca and cobbled streets of Lymington I walked over the bridge and headed away from the sea and into the New Forest. Today i would be following the Solent way, this long distance footpath has been really well thought out as it follows the public footpaths and country roads that are nearest to the coastline as there was no way around the coastline on the waterfront and although I was heading inland you would still get a glimpse of the Solent at various points.

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The first part of the route took me on footpaths through woodland and fields, so different from the terrain that I had been walking on as i was now walking through long grass and fields with crops as tall as me. After coming out of the woods I stumbled across this most tranquil pond, the colour of the water was a murky turquoise. There were two fly fishermen on it, flicking their lines back and forth but it was so quiet, in hindsight i wish i had eaten my lunch here as the route from just past here onwards to Bucklers Hard will be on road.

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Just before Sowley Pond i joined the road that was to be my route until i got to Bucklers Hard, at first i was concerned that walking on the road would be not as nice and possibly a bit dodgy with the cars, however my concern was to no avail as very few cars used this route, one passed approximately every 10 minutes, and the speed is restricted due to animals freely wandering in the road.

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The road took me passed two disused WW2 airfields that were used to support the D-Day landings, however on one of them the airfied could not be made out and all you could see was a field of green with the solent in the distance, it was a beautiful view and a person called had written a poem about this airfield, it was a really touching and poignant poem, it related so well to what i was seeing and really makes you think.

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As I left the country lane and arrived at bucklers hard the landscape changed and became nautical again, this little hamlet is a popular tourist attraction and consists of two rows of houses, a church, a museum and a pub where it would have been rude not to stop and have a pint of boon doggle, which is brewed by the ring wood brewery, Boon Doggle is a craft ale and certainly hit the spot after the walking so far, the weather was really warm sitting in the sun outside the pub. Although a tourist spot it wasn’t too busy and still upheld it’s beauty.

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The route back to Beaulieu was quite easy from here and well signposted, it is a frequently trodden route for people strolling between the two attractions, the Solent Way through here takes quite a direct route, however there are broadwalks made so that you can walk closer to the river, I decided that it would be good to follow these little detours keeping me as close to the river and nature as possible, the small additional distance that i covered walking this route was certainly worth it and i definately reccomend this way. This part of the route would be great for that Sunday afternoon walk following the roast dinner.

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The path soon led me back into Beaulieu where I would be finishing the days trek, but before I headed straight back to the car i thought I would take a quick look through the village and came across a shop called the Beaulieu chocolate studio, one half was a shop and the other half was a factory, so i popped in and although not cheap bought a bar of chocolate to take home to Susan.

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The Day in Brief:

Be prepared to duck sitting upstairs on the bus

Following the Solent Way with Glimpses of the Sea

Have a pint of Boon Doggle at Bucklers Hard

Get chocolate from Beaulieu Chocolate Studio.

 

Barton on Sea to Lymington

Monday 25th May 2015

Barton on Sea to Lymington – 20.5 km (12.7 miles)

Certainly a day full of contrasts: From unstable cliffs in the west to salt marshes in the east and from   t-shirts in the morning to coats in the afternoon………

The day started by parking up at Brockenhurst and catching the train to New Milton, the idea was to then catch a taxi to the beach, but the long wait meant it was quicker to walk, albeit that it added a couple of km to the day.

As soon as we arrived at Barton on Sea we headed East from the point where we finished last time. Instead of walking on the beach and stones and potentially becoming trapped by the tide and cliffs, we decided take heed of the lesson learnt yesterday and to follow the footpath on the cliff top. This was an amazing path that had some massive cracks near the cliff edge and you could see some recent slippages, in fact I read that the cliffs here are eroding by up to 1m a year. This cliff path led us passed a golf course, cow fields and on to Milford on Sea, which has also seen some major cliff erosion, a lot of the beach huts were destroyed in the past couple of years by some big storms.

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We decided to stop for lunch at the busy ‘Needles Eye Cafe’ which is in a great location and commands some terrific views of the Isle of Wight and the needles, it’s a shame we had to sit at the back with the dog so we couldn’t admire the views, we could have sat outside but it was just a little bit too windy. We ordered a tuna baguette and pannini with a little side salad which refuelled our energy ready for the afternoon.

After lunch I briefly left Susan at the cafe so that I could head inland to the village green and where the Solent Way officially starts…………a quick selfie was taken and I then retraced my steps back to the cafe so that we could then continue on the Solent Way.

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The cliffs petered out at Milford on Sea and gave way to a huge shingle bank that is a mile and a half long called ‘Hurst Spit’, at the end is a lighthouse and a castle that was built by Henry VIII to protect the harbours of Southampton and Portsmouth.  It took us an hour to walk to the end and around the castle which involved some climbing over and stooping under breakwaters. At the end of the spit we were less than a couple of km from the Isle of Wight. Cookie hated this part of the days walk as it was over the pebbles which must have hurt her paws and made her limp (such a wimp), trouble is we both felt sorry for her and ended up carrying her, you should have seen the looks we got from passers by………..lol. It would have been good to go in the castle, but lack of time meant we needed to press on, so we joined the queue for the Keyhaven Ferry. Ninety three of us boarded the ‘Solent Rose’ which was to take us back to the mainland, the ferry wound it’s way through the salt marshes and the many yachts that were moored up.

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The ferry trip was quite smooth considering that the wind had been strong all day and was at its stongest on the shingle spit.

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After coming alongside we left the ferry and rejoined the ‘Solent Way’ that meandered around the many lagoons of the salt marshes that makes up the Keyhaven/Lymington nature reserve. Each lagoon was very different and all were named, Susan’s favourite was Pennington lagoon as it had an island in the shape of an alligator, however mine was Eight Acre Pond due to the fact that it had islands that you could explore. This is an ideal place if you’re into bird watching; which I seemed to have shown an interest in since the bifold doors were fitted at home. On this part of the walk we managed to see a Ringed Plover, a graceful Heron take off and land, many shelducks, swans, geese and of course seagulls, although the seagulls here tend to be be smaller with black heads, unlike the massive ones that have nested on our roof at home.

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After plenty of winding in and out around the salt marshes we arrived in Lymington and the place was alive with yachts, ferries and dinghies coming in and out of the estuary. By this time we were all peckish and as it so happens there was a pub right by the marina called ‘The Mayflower’ so after a quick look at the menu thought this is the place to eat. We shared a scallop starter, then Susan had the Ringwood beer battered fish and chips and I ordered the Lymington crab salad, I had been craving crab since I started this trek and this certainly was worth looking forward too. This was all washed down with a pint of  ‘Fuggle Dee Dum’ from the Isle of Wight Brewery.

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Following dinner we made our way back to the station, through the cobbled streets of Lymington and as we passed by the quayside we saw the most cutest cygnets that were so young.

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Another great day!

The day in brief:

A day of contrasts

We started the Solent Way

Cookie hates pebbles……

Crab salad was good.

Bournemouth Pier to Barton on Sea

Saturday 23rd May 2015

Bournemouth Pier to Barton on Sea – 18.64 km (11.6m)

The travelling to Bournemouth Pier went really well, we pulled off the M27 just before the holiday traffic queue, only had to wait 10 minutes for the train and then jumped straight on a bus to the pier, some new experiences for Cookie. I don’t think she thought much of the train however she did cock her head every time the approaching station announcement was made.

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So Susan and myself are at Bournemouth Pier, the weather is fantastic, really sunny and quite hot, there are loads of people wandering down to the beach in their summer gear. Some quick photos by the pier and then we set out Eastwards along the prom, Hengistbury Head could be seen in the distance, looks a long way off but in reality is just over half way. The beach is buzzing with all sorts of people, a choir being filmed, beach volleyball being played, loads of bikinis and some speedos, I felt a little over dressed in my hike boots and shorts.

The walk between Bournemouth Pier and Boscombe Pier had such a lot physically going on with the active trail, so if you want to boulder, surf, volleyball or just exercise as well as walk then this is the place. We also saw some beach huts decorated in Cath Kidston style.

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After walking along the prom of Boscombe and towards Southbourne we decided it was time to find some shade and have lunch, however there was no shade, we kept walking in the hope of finding some but to no avail, so ended up eating our sandwiches directly in the heat of the midday sun.

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After lunch we continued our trek and eventually reached the end of the prom and the sandy beaches and headed on to Hengisbury Head. The scenery changed from here as we climbed up, Susan didn’t want to go over the top so we split and said that we would meet the other side, which was all well and good but we never actually said where we would meet which meant that we ended up waiting for 20 mins in two different places, after a quick call we were reunited. On the far end of the Hengistbury head is Mudeford Spit which has loads of very exclusive beach huts, with a few up for sale for a mere £250,000, thought about putting an offer in on one……….not!

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From Mudeford Spit we caught a short ferry across to Mudeford Quay, where we saw lots of people crabbing off the side. The smell in the air was that of the sea, lovely. The beach has also now gone to pebbles from sand and again there is a promenade on which you can walk. It was time to stop off for an ice cream and I can certainly recommend the ‘Beach Hut Cafe’ for a New Forest Whippy ice cream, it was so creamy and delicious. The promenade came to an end which meant we had to walk on the stones and sand making it harder to walk, the cliffs were getting higher here and were covered in trees.

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The next part of the journey could have been a massive mistake of the day and we don’t recommend that you take the same route as us. From Chewton Bunny we decided to walk along the beach, saving us a couple of km in not having to walk inland around a holiday camp, the beach here was weird as it looks like it is gradually being engulfed in lava, but really it was the mud slides down from the cliff. The beach was getting quieter and eventually we were all alone on the there, it was so peaceful with just the sound of the waves lapping over the pebbles, oh and Susan keep saying are we nearly there yet. Tiredness was now beginning to set in my shoulders ached a bit from the rucksack and Susan was tiring too, so we kept trudging along the stones and soon realised why no one else was on the beach as we came across a sign saying ‘no access to Barton on Sea’………Susan’s heart sank, there was a look of trepidation on her face, she couldn’t face retracing her steps, what were we going it do…………..so I set forth beyond the sign to see if there was a way through. I saw some boys playing on the rocks just below me, so they must have got through somehow. I returned to Susan with good news that we would be able to get through, but it did mean a bit of scrambling up a very dodgy cliff that had evidence of lots of land slips.

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The top of the cliff was Barton on Sea, we had reached our destination for the day, now to catch the bus back to the car…………well that was the plan, but we had just missed it by 15 mins so had to walk another 2.5 km to the car.

The day finished with a meal in the Turfcutters Arms in East Boldre, fantastic pub grub, the lamb shank and homily pie was delicious……….

In Brief:

Make sure you’ve got your sun hat as there is not much shade

Deifinately have a New Forest Whippy from the Beach Hut Cafe on Avon Beach

Read signs early on so that you can safely walk and not end up scrambling

From sandy beaches to muddy cliffs and pebbles, from the bustling beach of a holiday town to the tranquility of Barton on Sea.

What a great day!

The start is two days away.

I have been talking about walking the Solent Way in Hampshire for a long time now and thought it was about time I put this in to reality, the trouble is I’ve extended it either side of the Solent Way to go from Bournemouth Pier to Brighton Pier, just for the lol’s…..I don’t think Susan is that impressed about the distance as she says that it ap’piers’ to far. Haha.

I have looked at the map so many times over the last couple of months, however I don’t really know why as you can’t get that lost walking along the Coast, well I hope not………

So over the course of summer 2015 I will trek this whole length of coast and blog my travels as I go, I’ll try to include photos and tips along the way.