10th July 2015
Portsmouth Harbour to Brockhampton – 21km (13 miles)
It’s been a while since my last Blog and also since doing the previous stage of this trek, life is so busy and for this stage i needed a whole day to complete.
On alighting from the train at Portsmouth Harbour it was straight into the walk and into Gunwharf Quays, a big outlet village of brand name shops and restaurants right on the harbourside, great place to shop.
From here we headed through the fishing harbour of Old Portsmouth with the distinctive smell of fish, here they have a fish market open every day and is open to public and trade. The fishing boats can be found moored up in this small harbour with the ultra modern architecture of Gunwharf as the back drop.
A quick dash through an alley and i was at the seafront, the next 6 km will be walking along the promenade right the way to Eastney. The first part passes by Old Portsmouth with it’s cathedral and old historic buildings and soon leads us to Clarence Pier built in 1861. Not really much of a pier as it does not extend out to sea but goes along the shore, it is mainly a funfair with amusement arcades, with the smell of candy floss and fish & chips. This was bustling with tourists as they enjoyed the traditional fayre and looking pastey after coming off some of the rides. Next to Clarence Pier you can catch a Hovercraft across to the Isle of Wight, this is the only passenger operated vessel in Britain and has been doing this crossing for 50 years since 1965. It’s always impressive to see it come of the sea and up the ramp to land.
The walk east along the promenade had the common to our left and the Solent to our right, with all sorts of vessels going to and fro, Isle of Wight ferries were ploughing through the smaller yachts, occasionally blasting on their horns, two cross channel ferries also came and you can often see Royal Navy vessels excersing and patrolling these waters, but none for me today. Portsmouth is one of Britains major Royal Naval bases.
The beaches were busy with people soaking up the warm rays of the sun, some braving the cold sea and swimming. We walked past the D-Day Museum and on to South Parade pier which was built in 1875 and has quite a varied history. From this pier and on to Eastney the seafront tended to quieten down a bit and unbelievably i bumped in to Naomi my choir teacher, incredible, it was good to have a catch up and meet her son too. The promenade continued to Eastney where we had to turn inland through some housing estates and before joining the path running up the western shores of langstone Harbour.
The path from here was to follow the line of the Eastern Avenue out of Portsmouth. The first part of this path which is also called the ‘Portsmouth Coastal Highway’ was quite quiet as it was away from the road and after a short while walking i came across the peoples memorial that was set up for the citizens of Portsmouth to have a memorial to all those that have fought in the wars, all the tables and benches were painted white and it was certainly a peaceful place.
It was quite a long stretch walking up this side of the island so a welcome pint in the Harvester was certainly called for before leaving the peaceful shores where the tide was beginning to lap to the road bridge that will take us off the island. This was a noisy but necessary section and after crossing the bridge we had to follow part of the motorway before we could head onto the farlington marshes. This was quite a noisy section as it was a Friday rush hour.
It was a really hot day today and all we got left to do is the Farlington Marshes, sounds easy, but don’t underestimate how far around it is, particularly after a long walk already. However as soon as you walk south away from the motorway it becomes a really tranquil place, with only the slightest hum from the road. We saw a beautiful Little Egret fly up out of the marshes and circle around us before landing further up the path.
After walking around the marshes we are met with the road again for a short while before the last little bit around the harbour to Brockhampton. What a contrast here as one minute we are on a track with beautiful coastal scenery and then you turn a corner and meet an industrial site shovelling gravel around.