TOCW1 Walk 3 : Netley to Botley
The Solent Way and the River Swanick with sea views, marinas and mudflats
Updates: No major changes.
New Options: None
Southampton Water and the River Hamble
|Length||14.5km (9.0 miles), 4 hours 15 minutes. For the whole outing, including trains, ferry, sights and meals, allow 9 hours 45 minutes. Allow an extra 30 minutes in summer if visiting the Netley Chapel centre and the Manor Park farm.|
Explorer OL 22 & OL3 (was 119) or Landranger 196. Netley, map reference SU 464 086, is in Hampshire, 5km south-east of Southampton.
|Toughness||1 out of 10|
This walk replaced the original Walk 3 in the SWC Book (Dunbridge to Romsey) at its second edition, due to some problems with the Dunbridge walk. However, its position in the Book's rota - Walk 3 on Week 3 - meant a January outing for a coastal walk, which could be "envigourating" and nippy in deep winter. In the latest edition of the Book, the walk's position in the rota has been moved to mid-summer, a more suitable time of year to enjoy this lovely walk along the coast. The walk Netley to Botley works just as well when done in "reverse" - Botley to Netley, although the notes which follow assume you are walking Netley to Botley. Directions for Botley to Netley will be added at a later date.
The walk goes down through the Royal Victoria Country Park, past the Netley Chapel, down to the shore at Southampton Water, with a dramatic view of the vast Fawley oil refineries opposite. Then the way is along the stony beach for a couple of kilometres, followed by an inland path through the woods and Hamble Common to the ferry in the delightful village of Hamble. The Warsash Ferry (tel 01489 572840) returns to Hamble every ten minutes or so from 9 am to 6 pm daily and costs £1.50 per person, with room for 12 people maximum (closed Christmas week). On the other side of the river, the walk continues up alongside the River Hamble, with its marinas for yachtsmen and mudflats for birds – every variety from Grey Herons and Kingfishers to Redshank and Lapwing (binoculars are worth bringing). Lunch is in Lower Swanwick. Then it is up the other side of the river on a choice of routes to Manor Farm and Country Park, an open farm run for visitors by Hampshire Council, with a tea-room open 7 days in summer until 31 October (last orders 4.45 pm). The route ends in a pleasant footpath called Lovers Lane, over a stream and up into Botley, where there are three pubs and one tea shop. It is then a not-very-pleasant kilometre along the main road to the station, with a good pub (across a very busy road) opposite that serves food all afternoon.
Tide Times When the tide is in you have to walk along the top of the stony beach to Southampton Water (unless you nip in and out of scub woodland on your left), and walking along the beach for a distance of two kilometres can be hard work. At low tide your way is along a lower, sandier part of the beach which is much easier. To check tide times, click here.
To shorten the walk, take one of the hourly trains (seven days a week, summer and winter) from Bursledon after lunch, either via Southampton or Fareham. Or much earlier in the walk, you could get one of the regular buses from Hamble (Nos. 16 or 16a) to Netley station or to Southampton town centre.
After lunch you have a choice of routes up to Manor Farm and Country Park. The Book's original route is a direct route, which heads due north, and is easy to follow, but its final leg is along an uninteresting track for 1 kilometre. The alternative, slightly longer route follows the "Strawberry Trail" above the river, dropping down to several attractive coves - but you need to follow the directions carefully to avoid becoming lost in deep woodland.
As mentioned earlier, this walk works just as well when done in reverse (Botley to Netley). One advantage of this is the outward journey to Botley is direct and takes ninety minutes (versus over two hours to Netley), allowing a later start of 10 am. Full directions of the "backwards walk" will be provided in due course.
Netley Chapel in the Royal Victoria Country Park was at the centre of the Royal Victoria military hospital that opened in 1863 and was demolished in 1966. Now the Heritage Visitor Centre, it houses an exhibition and a shop and allows visits to the top of the tower. But it is only open from about April to October. Phone 023 8045 5157 for details.
The hospital pier was begun in 1865 and was 190 yards long. Now, only the pier head remains. Inscribed on the spit slate to the right of the pier is a poem by Frank Thompson:’Write on the stones no words of sadness, only the gladness due that we who ask the most of living, know how to give it too.
Manor Farm and Country Park (tel 01489 787055) with its farm, wheelwright and blacksmith’s forge and tea-room, is open Monday to Sunday from Easter to Oct 31st (till 5 pm); from November 1st to Easter (and during February half-term) only on Sundays (till dusk). Entrance fee to the Farm (2016) is £ 7 for adults, with no charge for access to the tea-room. The building of the parish church next to the farm started in 1282. The church was damaged by a tree that fell in the 1700s.
Take the train nearest to 9 am from Waterloo Station to Netley, changing at Southampton Central (allow at least 5 minutes to change trains). Journey time about 2 hours, depending on the connection. There are hourly direct trains back from Botley to Waterloo. Journey time about 1 hour 35 minutes. You can also return in the other direction, changing at Fratton, but this takes over 2 hours.
Buy a day return to Netley, which in practice is accepted for the return journey.
|Lunch||The Navigator pub and restaurant, formerly the Spinnaker (tel 01489 572123) in Lower Swanwick, some 8.5 km into the walk, serves food (full menu) from 12 noon to 2-30 pm, and ligher meals, hot and cold from 2-30 pm to 6 pm, Monday to Saturday, and roasts on Sundays between 12 noon and 3 pm, with lighter meals from 3 pm to 6 pm. The pub tends to be crowded on Sundays so book in advance, and on other days if you are a group of 10 or more. Earlier in the walk, during the long section on the causeway beside the River Hamble, you can stop off at the Bistro 8 Bar & Restaurant in the grounds of Universal Marina (tel 01489 854259) which serves main courses and lighter fare, with full bar and coffees, in comfortable surroundings with a very pleasant outside seating area under trees.|
An early tea can be had at Manor Farm and Country Park in season, but otherwise there are three pubs in the pleasant village of Botley and a tea shop. The pubs are the Brewery Bar on Winchester Street, the Bugle Inn on the High Street and opposite it, The Dolphin. The tea shop is Elsie's Traditional Tea Room (tel 01489 781950) at 27 High Street, which is open until 4 pm Monday to Friday, 5 pm on Saturday, but 3 pm on Sunday (making it a non-starter for Sunday walkers).
Opposite Botley Station is the more-than-adequate Railway Inn (tel 01489 799746), open until late daily, and serving food all day at weekends. If not stopping at Manor Farm or if you are too late for Elsie's, this is probably the best bet for your tea stop. Otherwise, just before the station you have a Londis convenience store within the BP petrol station, where you can buy machine tea and coffee, snacks and cold drinks.
No major changes. See Updates & Comments.
If you have an old (pre 2010) edition of the book, we recommend you use the online version.
After the walk, we would really appreciate your comments
Out: (not a train station)
Back: (not a train station)
Start: SO31 5AN at 4pm
Finish: SO30 2DY at 10am
It is not easy to return to the start of the walk by car, as the 2 stations are on different railway lines.
National Rail Enquires: 08457 48 49 50 • Travelline South East (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (10p/min from landlines) • Transport for London: 0343 222 1234
Mar-16 This is the fully revised version in the current 2011 edition of the book.
|Copyright||© Saturday Walkers Club. All Rights Reserved. No commercial use. No copying. No derivatives. Free with attribution for one time non-commercial use only. www.walkingclub.org.uk/site/license.shtml|
The [numbers] refer to a sketch map which is only in the book.
-  Coming off platform 2 at Netley Station, cross over the footbridge, go out of the station the other side for 20 metres through the car park, then turn left on the road, signposted Royal Victoria Country Park, your direction 145°. In 120 metres the road ends at a cul de sac and you keep ahead, to the left-hand side of house number 30, past a ‘No Cycling’ sign, now on a surfaced path, soon with a steep wooded valley below to your right-hand side and light industrial units on the other side of a mesh fence to your left.
- 200 metres down this path, turn right on a tarmac road, your direction 235°, past No. 4 Taylor Cottage on your left-hand side. In 90 metres you come to a road junction, with a notice board with a map of the Royal Victoria Park 10 metres ahead of you, slightly right. Here, turn left for 15 metres then turn right on a surfaced road, by a "Police and Residents Only" sign, your direction 165°. In 120 metres, where the road swings to the right, keep ahead passing between two wooden posts on to a surfaced path, your direction 205°, with the tower of Netley Chapel visible ahead to the south. In 70 metres, go through a wooden barrier and turn left on a tarmac road, your direction 145°. The road swings to the right and in 60 metres, take a right fork on to another road.
- In 80 metres, enter the park proper, with the Cedar Tea Room (open Summer 10-5, April to September; Winter 10-4, October to March) a YMCA (which opened in 1940) and toilets on your right-hand side. Head for the chapel, due south, on a surfaced path with a miniature railway track running parallel to your path on your left. In 100 metres cross a road and keep ahead, now over grass, and in 200 metres you come to the Netley Chapel, now The Heritage Visitor Centre.
- From the front of the chapel, head straight on down a surfaced path between lamp-posts for 140 metres to Southampton Water, your direction 235°.
- At the pier head,, turn left along the shore, and in 90 metres, by the entrance to Netley Sailing Club, continue along the beach for the next two kilometres to the pier, its pipes and crane visible in the distance.
- On the way, you will in due course see ways up into the trees that border the shore, and you can follow paths there (including ‘Hamble Valley’ and ‘Strawberry Trail’) which run parallel to the beach, if you so prefer although these are rather zig-zaggy paths that can be difficult to follow.
- On reaching the oil terminal security fencing you will need to leave the beach up stone steps to follow the concrete path next to the fence, still along the shoreline.
- In 320 metres go down steps and so under the pier (with its oil pipelines) to continue straight on until you reach the end of the fence in 200 metres. Here you go down concrete steps to continue along the shore but [!] in 5 metres [!] turn left through a gap on to a path through light woodland, your direction 50°. In 40 metres at a T-junction and with a footpath post on your left, turn left on to a gravel path which soon swings to the right to pass a footpath post marked "Hamble Common Circular Trail".
- You come out into a grassy glade which you cross and in 60 metres you re-enter the light woodland on a wide path which swings to the left.
- In 90 metres, cross over a four-plank footbridge and keep ahead, slightly left. In 60 metres, fork left at a path junction, to follow the direction of another Hamble Common trail sign. In a further 80 metres by a footpath-signed post and a rustic wooden bench, [!] turn right (where to continue would lead you in 20 metres to a rustic totem pole!), your bearing 140° Do not be tempted by the wider path, turning back on yourself on a bearing of 175°.
- Stay with this twisty trail through woodland (houses visible to your left), and in 180 metres exit the wood by going over wooden boards (by water) on to a tarmac road. Here turn left on this road, your direction 30°. In 40 metres, and some 8 metres before you reach a Hamble Common road sign on your right, turn right into a car park, your direction 120°, to go past a barrier to follow a path into the wood.
- In 90 metres, ignore a ‘Hamble Common’ sign to the left (pointing to the path to your right) and instead keep ahead, now on the Strawberry Trail. In a further 90 metres, keep half left with the main path and in 25 metres go over wooden slats, to bear left, now beside the River Hamble on your right. In 100 metres, the path swings left, then right. Ignore a kissing gate to your left-hand side; keep going through the copse on a winding path.
- In 100 metres you pass a Hamble Common sign on your right, to keep ahead. In a further 160 metres, you exit the wood by going over boards, passing a noticeboard and another Hamble Common sign on your right, keeping ahead for 30 metres where you join a gravel access road. Turn left and in another 50 metres, by a ‘No Entry’ signs for cars, turn right downhill on the road passing Oyster Cottage on your right and other Hamble Village houses, your direction 75°.
- By the water’s edge, go left towards the white metal pier, at the end of which you can catch the distinctive pink-painted Warsash Ferry.
- On the other side of the river (after a 5 minute ride), take care when walking up the damp, seaweed covered concrete jetty, as it can be slippery. At the top of the jetty, with a Ferry Shelter on your right (also painted shocking pink), turn left and follow the riverside causeway, heading north, through mudflats, ignoring all ways off, for some three kilometres. On a sunny summer's day this leg with the wide River Hamble over to your left is a delight.
- In 3 kilometres you go through a pair of open wooden fieldgates (or if closed, take the narrow footpath to their left). You have a Donkey Sanctuary over to your right, a popular visitor attraction. In 100 metres turn left over a 5 plank footbridge with metal handrails, and turn right. In 60 metres, with the south entrance to Universal Marina on your left, turn right on a surfaced path, and in 70 metres you enter the Universal Marina and Boatyard complex. Follow the pedestrian signs painted on the ground through the Boatyard complex. If you wish to take lunch at Bistro 8 Bar and Restaurant, turn right on entering the complex, to find the restaurant ahead in 30 metres. Otherwise, having past the Marina Office on your immediate left, you drop down to a gravel path where you turn right, and in 70 metres you go through a wooden kissing gate, to keep ahead on the gravel path, your direction 50°.
- In 160 metres you cross a wooden footbridge and keep ahead, now on a public footpath which goes down a private car-wide gravel drive, with the shoreline to your left. In 400 metres the drive joins a tarmac road at a bend in the road, and keep ahead (now on Swanwick Shore Road). In 110 metres you pass Swanwick public slipway on your left.
- In 100 metres you come to the main road, the A27 (Bridge Road), where you turn left. In 100 metres cross the road at a busy traffic light junction to continue along the road. In 50 metres you come to the Navigator pub and restaurant on your right-hand side, the suggested lunchtime stop.
- Coming out of the pub, turn right to continue on the main road. In 150 metres, go over a bridge over the river, and then in a further 160 metres you go under the railway bridge. At this point, those ending the walk at Bursledon Railway Station, should turn left on Church Lane for 100 metres, then fork left into Station Road for another 300 metres, coming to Bursledon Railway Station on your left. To continue on the main walk, turn right here, up Blundell Lane, your direction 50°.
- In 250 metres, where the tarmac public road goes left, carry straight on through a boat repair yard which shares its entrance with Brixedone Farm. In 300 metres your way swings right then left and in a further 150 metres you go under the M27 Motorway. In 20 metres [!] fork right over a stile and turn left, back on the Strawberry Trail, your direction 50°, to keep alongside the shore on a winding path. In 60 metres go over another stile to the right of a metal fieldgate.
- In 80 metres, with a bench on your right, pick up the footpath forking half left diagonally across the field, heading towards woods, your direction 20°. In 200 metres, bear left to come beside a channel of water on your right-hand side that joins the river, your direction 330°. In 80 metres go through a potentially muddy hedge gap, with a redundant stile on your right, to bear right and in 70 metres go over a stile on your right-hand side, to cross the channel .
- At the other side, in 40 metres at the T-junction, turn right, your direction 140°, with woodland to your left and the shoreline down to your right. In 90 metres, by a bench at a fork, [!] you have a choice of routes up to Manor Farm and Country Park [!].
- The Direct Route (the SWC Book original route).
- By the bench at the fork, turn left on a path which winds steadily uphill, through woodland, your initial direction 50°.
- In 300 metres, at a cross paths, by a two-armed sign which points left to Barnfield WCs, with play and adventure areas over to your left, keep ahead , still uphill on a woodland path, your direction 30°. Ignore all ways off and keep ahead at all cross paths, and in a further 300 metres you come out of the wood onto a car wide track, with a car road to your left, and with a wooden fence and field on your right-hand side, your direction 30°.
- Ignoring ways off, in one kilometre you come to a path T-junction, where you turn left to go through a wooden kissing gate to the left of a pair of wooden fieldgates, to enter Manor Farm and Country Park premises. The Strawberry Trail route joins here. .
- The Strawberry Trail Route .
- By the bench at the fork, keep ahead , and in 15 metres you pass a Strawberry Trail disc on a post on your right. (The discs are hereafter referred to as STDs in these Directions). The trail is marked by STDs on posts or bridges intermittentlty along the trail. In 90 metres you pass a bench on your left and the path gradually curves to the left.
- In 170 metres keep to your path (now a track) as you pass a jetty and cove to your right, your direction now due north. In 70 metres you have a timber post and mesh fence on your right, with the shoreline down to your right. In 30 metres pass a bench and viewing point on your right. In 30 metres [!] turn right down steps to a cove, then go up up the otherside. You pass a bench on on your left and the path swings left.
- In 70 metres cross over a path crossing (with earthen steps left and right) to follow the direction of a STD ahead. In 30 metres at a T-junction, turn right , initially uphill, your direction now 40°,to keep ahead, still with the fence on your right, with woodland to left and right and the shore now away down below to your right.
- In 250 metres, at a path junction, with a tree trunk seat ahead, by a STD, turn right down earthen steps. In 80 metres cross on a four plank wooden bridge with an STD over a water inlet and go up earthen steps on the other side. At the top go through a barrier, with a STD, and keep ahead, your direction now 130°, through trees, and in 80 metres the fence rejoins on your right.
- In 275 metres cross a ten plank wooden bridge. Immediately you have a path junction on your right. [!] You now have a choice : more shoreline or up through woods. The Woodland Route through Dock Copse ignores the junction and keeps ahead on a clear path which winds gently uphill, deep into Woodland, away from the shoreline, your initial direction 40° In 300 metres the path swings down to the right and in 70 metres you bear left down earthen steps to cross planks over a stream. The Cove Route Joins here .
- The Cove Route . At the path junction, turn right onto a narrow winding path through woodland, with the shoreline now nearby on your right. In 150 metres you come to a cove on your right. Keep ahead, with the estuary on your right. In 250 metres ignore a steep descent ahead, bear left then right , to go uphill on a winding, minor path. In 70 metres you come to a path T-junction where you turn right to drop down to go down the earthen steps and cross the planks over the stream to join the Woodland Route .
- Continuing on the Strawberry Trail (both routes): On the other side of the planks follow the direction of a STD on a post on your left, bearing left, uphill, and in 125 metres you exit the woods. Now keep ahead, gently uphill, along the left-hand edge of an open field, with a hedgerow to your left. You soon have a fine view of the River Hamble some 450 metres away and below to your right. In 180 metres at a track junction, and with a two-armed footpath post ahead, turn left through gate posts onto a wide earth track between fields. In 300 metres you go through the wooden kissing gate to the left of the pair of wooden fieldgates, to join the Main Route .
- Both Routes . Continues ahead, slightly left, downhiil, through the farm (ignoring the right fork with the large Manor Park sign), marked ‘No Unauthorised Vehicles’, past a post ringed blue and yellow and passing to the right of a metal fieldgate, your directions 25°, with buildings to your right-hand side. Soon you pass the fieldgate to the Manor Farm and Café entrance on your right-hand side, and then the wheelwrights on your left-hand side, and soon a pond on your right-hand side; to emerge through a wooden gate onto an earth road , with St Bartholomew’s Church, the old Botley parish church, to your right-hand side. You go left on this road, your direction 15°.
- In 60 metres, you come to a T-junction with the tarmac road, where you go left, your direction 300°. In 120 metres, just 30 metres past the Old Rectory on your right-hand side, go right through a wooden kissing gate to the right of a metal fieldgate, on a signposted footpath, your direction 30°, along the right-hand edge of a field with a ditch and tree line to your right. You soon pass a small barn on your left.
- In 330 metres, ignore a concealed and overgrown metal kissing gate to your right-hand side. In a further 90 metres, at a T-junctionturn half right at the end of the hedge onto a broad grassy way across fields, your direction 60°.
- In 150 metres, where the main way swings to the left to the farmhouse, you keep ahead, now on a narrower path between fences, and in 90 metres go through an old metal kissing gate and 25 metres down onto a tarmac road. You turn right for 30 metres, and then left through a metal kissing gate, your direction 35°, on a footpath known as Lovers Lane.
- In 40 metres, you cross water on a concrete bridge with wooden slats and metal railings to go up the other side, in a further 100 metres to a road, where you turn right, eastwards.
- In 25 metres, turn left by the ‘No Entry’ sign, to go northwards, on Church Lane, into the centre of Botley, coming to the main road (The High Street) in 200 metres.
- You have 3 pubs and a tea room in the centre of the village. Directly opposite Church Lane is Winchester Street and a short distance down it on your right is the Brewery Bar pub. Turning left on the High Street you have the Dolphin pub on your left and, directly opposite, the Bugle Inn . Some 100 metres turning left down the High Street you come to Elsie's Traditional Tea Room .
- Returning to your point of entry to the village, turn right on the main road to go (via the crossroads) up the A334, your direction 105° for 1km, over the stream and past Botley Mills Craft and Business Centre on your left-hand side, to Botley Railway Station, ignoring the A3051 right turn. Just before the station you have the Londis convenience store within the BP garage, and opposite the station is the Railway Inn, your suggested late tea stop.
- The near platform is for Winchester, Basingstoke and London, although the opposite platform can get you to London via Fareham or Fratton.