66n – Chilling to Hamble-Le-Rice

Would we make the last ferry of the day?  Walk faster, everyone!  In our hurry I nearly guided us onto Hook Spit, a northward pointing spit of land which is curved like a hook and from which the local village of Hook got its name.  Had we taken that wrong turn we would have added another half mile to our journey and missed the ferry for sure, but at the last moment I realised my mistake.  We headed along the inland sea wall instead.

Hook Spit

As we reached Warsash we passed a D-Day memorial commemorating nearly 2,600 Commandos who left from here for France.  When they landed on the beaches the role of many of them was to fight rapidly inland.  Their aim was to relieve Airborne troops who had landed behind enemy lines in gliders the previous night and taken the bridge at Benouville, now known as Pegasus Bridge.  The Commandos made it, and together with the Airborne troops fought for over 80 days without further relief, holding their positions against enemy attack.  Casualties were nearly 40%.  In the officer ranks casualties were over 50%.

Warsash D-Day Memorial

The last ferry was at 4 o’clock.  We arrived at the ferry shelter a few minutes after the hour.  There was a telephone number for the ferry and some other walkers called it.  Yes!  The ferry was happy to make one last trip before wrapping operations up.  Look!  Here it comes!

Hamble FerryWe clambered aboard and set off.  I read a notice on the way over:

Sign on Hamble FerryClearly the ferry crew had not anticipated my son, otherwise they would have changed the notice asking children to keep off the seats for fear of dirtying any dogs who happened to be travelling.

Ben's TrousersIt was a quick trip over the River Hamble, and at the other side we stopped for the day.  We had walked 15.29 miles (not including the ferry) – a new record!  Well done kids!

Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):

  • Hook Spit:  N 50° 50.750 W 001° 18.450
  • D-Day Memorial:  N 50° 51.136 W 001° 18.392
  • Ferry Shelter:  N 50° 51.311 W 001° 18.448
  • Ferry Platform, Hamble-Le-Wick:  N 50° 51.478 W 001° 18.730

Walk #66 Statistics (of which this post forms the final part):

 

 

 

66m – Titchfield to Chilling

Curse these unexpected inland detours!  First we saw this sign:

Cliff Eosion Warning Sign“Pah!” I thought, “Those signs are put up at the drop of a hat more than at the fall of a cliff!” .  But then we saw a “Footpath Closed” sign, and when we tried to work out why the footpath might be closed, we noticed this (can you see the path?):

Cliff Erosion

And then, just to ram it home, we came across another sign which had some photos on it:

The Chilling Coast SignI should add that “The Chilling Coast” was not a macabre title for literary effect.  We were actually in a place called Chilling.

So for the sake of avoiding 500 metres, we detoured inland by just over a mile.

At last, after an unwelcome trudge, we got back to the coast again – hooray!  But then, almost immediately, we saw this:

Footpath Closed Sign - againWe looked at this sign in utter dismay.  We had already walked some 13 miles and time was getting on.  We were hoping to catch the ferry from Warsash to Hamble-le-Rice, but the last ferry was at 4pm.  We were cutting it fine as it was.  Another inland detour would mean we would certainly miss it.  We stood and looked at the path; or at least we tried to look at it, because there was no path there to be looked at.  This was, I supposed, a product of the December 2013 and January 2014 storms which had flooded so many areas and caused havoc up and down the south coast of the country.

As I looked ahead, however, it seemed to me as if the narrow stretch of beach below could be followed.  Yes!  It could!

“Come on!” I said to the others. “Let’s go for it!  We don’t have to go inland again and we get the better views if we stick to the coast”.

Well, kind of…

The View Across Southampton Water

Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):

  • Start of Inland Detour:  N 50° 49.920 W 001° 16.902
  • End of Inland Detour and Second Footpath Closed Sign:  N 50° 50.015 W 001° 17.280

Walk #66 Statistics (of which this post forms the thirteenth part):

 

 

66l – Titchfield

Heavy industry – is it a thing of unnatural beauty, its inner workings a mystery to be wondered at?  Or is it an ugly, smoke-belching, sludge-spewing sprawl of ghastliness?  A bit of both, maybe.

As we got closer to Southampton Water ships laden with containers sailed into or out of port.

Container Ship on Southampton Water

We trudged along a litter-strewn shore.  This litter had not been dropped by other people.  It had been washed up by the tide.  It was not bottles and crisp packets; but pallets, off-cuts of timber, metal and rope.  It had become ensnared by tree branches and other driftwood and then washed up in a tangled heap.

Litter-Strewn ShorelineThe industry to the other side of Southampton Water was, at this point, three miles away.  It felt a lot closer.

At Titchfield with Fawley Industry in the BackgroundWe turned and trudged on, knowing that it would take several walks before we would leave this sight behind.

Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):

  • Litter-Strewn Shoreline:  N 50° 49.661 W 001° 16.057

Walk #66 Statistics (of which this post forms the twelfth part):

 

 

66k – Stubbington to Titchfield

The reeds in Titchfield Haven Nature Reserve struggled valiantly to provide some colour to the landscape as the dark clouds rolled in.

Titchfield Haven

Nature, I thought, can be truly beautiful.  And with that thought we took a deep breath of fresh air <GASP> and headed off to the pollution of Southampton.

Solent Industry

To be fair, it was the opposite side of Southampton Water where all that industry was.  We still had quite a pleasant walk up the eastern side first.  Well, I say pleasant – nature threw a few obstacles in our way…

Muddy Puddle #1

Deb was so scared of falling in that she kept her eyes closed the whole time!

Muddy Puddle #2But a few muddy puddles weren’t going to stop us!

Muddy Puddle #6

Although I readily accept they might have slowed us down a bit…

Muddy Puddle #7

 

Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):

  • Titchfield Haven:  N 50° 49.060 W 001° 14.720
  • Muddy Puddles:  N 50° 49.383 W 001° 15.350

Walk #66 Statistics (of which this post forms the eleventh part):

 

66j – Lee-on-Solent to Stubbington

Woah!  As we walked out of Lee-on-Solent and into Stubbington a bit of a weather front seemed to move in – time to head inside for some lunch!

Weather Front at Stubbington

 

The clouds threatened us with their dark despondency as we ate our lunch, but failed to deliver on their threat.  As we emerged from the pub with full bellies and renewed determination, the weather front dissipated and fled before us.

Leaving the Osborne View

 

At the far end of Stubbington we reached Hill Head Harbour.  A few dinghies played around within the confines of the harbour walls, but none seemed to venture out into the open sea.  I wonder why not?

Hill Head Harbour

There is surely an answer as to why these boats did not head out into open waters, but don’t ask me – for I am not a sailor.  The last time I went out in a boat happened to be in The Solent, the very waters we were now looking at.  It was about 18 years ago.  It was a day for entertaining clients and I was a graduate in my firm.  I went out with my team leader, Guy, who was a keen sailor and owned a yacht.  Joining him were couple of colleagues and a couple of clients.  I became tremendously seasick in the choppy waters.

“Nic,” said Guy, “You’re looking a bit rough.”

No kidding!

“Take the wheel and stare at the horizon,” said Guy.  “It will make you feel better”.

I am sure that this would have worked five minutes beforehand, but I had passed the point of no return.  Guy realised this.

“Nic!” he said, with slightly more urgency in his voice now, “If you are going to be sick then go over this side of the boat”. He pointed through his body which stood in the way.  “Don’t go over that side because the wind’s blowing in the wrong direction!”  He gestured in the opposite direction to the clear passage before me.

It was too late.  I couldn’t wait for him to get out of the way.  I dashed for the wrong side of the boat, reached the rail, shoved a client out of the way and violently threw up into the waiting wind.  With a grace and artistic beauty not usually associated with recently dispatched stomach contents it was picked up by the wind and thrown it into the client I had just barged out of the way.

The feeling of nausea left me and was rapidly replaced with the feeling of abject horror.  It was one of those career-defining moments.

My client looked down at his spattered legs and deck shoes.  He looked up and into my horror-stricken eyes.  Then he laughed.  Good old Dorrien!  We became quite good friends.  I moved on eventually and it occurs to me that I haven’t seen him now in ten years or so.  I should really give him a call.  It’s been ages since I had a good empty…

Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):

  • The Osborne View (Pub Lunch):  N 50° 48.999 W 001° 13.993
  • Hill Head Harbour:  N 50° 49.080 W 001° 14.593

Walk #66 Statistics (of which this post forms the tenth part):

66i – Lee-on-Solent

As we reached Lee-on-Solent we got our first look at the vast industry on the far bank of Southampton Water.  This would dominate our skyline for many miles, getting closer and closer.

Fawley Industry

But at Lee-on-Solent it wasn’t the heavy industry that interested us – it was the heavy machinery!

The Princess Margaret at the Hovercraft Museum

 This is The Princess Margaret, one of six SR.N4 hovercraft, the largest commercial hovercraft in the world.  It was The Princess Margaret which, on 30 March 1985, was blown into a breakwater at Dover during stormy weather.  The collision knocked a chunk out of the starboard passenger cabin.  Some passengers were thrown into the sea as a result and four died, including two teenagers.

Today, The Princess Margaret is an exhibit at Lee-on-Solent’s Hovercraft Museum, yet another place we would have liked to have visited had we the time.  But with 6,500 miles of our journey remaining we had to forgo our visit and carry on.  Besides, the tide was coming in and there was not much beach left to walk on!

The Encroaching Tide

 

Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):

  • Heavy Industry on the West Bank of Southampton Water:  N 50° 50.250 W 001° 20.500
  • Hovercraft Museum:  N 50° 48.470 W 001° 12.558
  • Narrowing Section of Beach:  N 50° 48.929 W 001° 13.879

Walk #66 Statistics (of which this post forms the ninth part):

66h – Browndown to Lee-on-Solent

There was something a bit Planet of the Apes about Browndown.  Strange objects of a bygone era protruded from the sand.

Browndown Old Walls

It wasn’t these objects that drew our attention, however, it was the beautiful sky!

Beautiful Sky

Browndown exits into Lee-on-Solent.  We exited the gates from the Browndown Military Training Area and made our way into the town.

Poor old Lee never quite hit the big time it aimed for.  From the 19th Century onwards attempts were made to develop it into a resort.  In the late nineteenth century it even received its own pier – the ubiquitous mark of a Victorian seaside resort.  By the 1930′s it had an art-deco seafront complex, including a 120-foot tower and viewing platform.  Noel Coward performed there!  Its popularity declined, however, and in 1958 the pier was demolished.  The foreign holiday boom of the 1960′s and 1970′s was the final nail in the coffin; the tower was demolished in 1971.

Today, there is just about enough of a seafront to allow you to sit and imagine what the pier may have looked like.  Mind you, I quite like that view without the pier…

No Pier at Lee-on-Solent

Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):

  • Ruins in Browndown Military Training Area:  N 50° 47.282 W 001° 11.089
  • Lee-on-Solent Ex-Pier:  N 50° 48.089 W 001° 12.258

Walk #66 Statistics (of which this post forms the eighth part):

 

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