TOCW1 Walk 3 : Netley to Botley
The Solent Way and the River Swanick with sea views, marinas and mudflats
Updates: This walk replaces the original No.3 walk in very old editions.
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 & 119 or Landranger 196. Netley, map reference SU 464 086, is in Hampshire, 5km south-east of Southampton.
Here are the links to Ordnance Survey maps for the Netley to Botley walk 3. These four maps join up to give the complete route.
|Toughness||1 out of 10|
|Features||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 (or, for part of the way, parallel to the beach in and out of the scrub woodland if preferred) 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 9-6 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 and through woodlands and fields to Manor Farm, an open farm run for visitors by the council, with a tea-room open 7 days in summer until 31 October (last orders 4.45). The route ends in a pleasant footpath called Lovers Lane, over a stream and up into Botley, where there is a newish tea room. 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.|
|Walk Options||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.|
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 (tel 01489 787055) with its wheelwright and blacksmith’s forge and tea-room, is open Monday to Sunday from Easter to Oct 31st (till 5pm); from November 1st to Easter (and during February half-term) only on Sundays (till dusk). 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 9am 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 Spinnaker pub and restaurant (tel 01489 572123) in Lower Swanwick, some 8.5 km into the walk, serves food that is slightly above average in quality until 2.30pm weekdays, 3pm on weekends and often offers meal deals at lunch time, & evenings Monday – Saturday’; also bar snacks. It is crowded on Sundays so book in advance, and on other days if you are a group of 10 or more.|
An early tea can be had at the Manor Farm in season, but otherwise there is the Deliceux Café (tel 01489 790463) in the pleasant village of Botley, open till around 5pm daily but only until 2.30 on Sundays. There are several pubs nearby, on or near the High Street.
Opposite Botley Station is the more-than-adequate Railway Inn (tel 01489 799746), open until late daily, and serving food from 6 pm on weekdays and all day at weekends.
This walk replaces the original No.3 walk in very old editions. See Updates & 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
Introduction: Mar-12. Directions: Mar-12. This is the fully revised version in the current 2011 edition of the book.
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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, then turn left on the road, signposted Royal Victoria Country Park, your direction 145°. In 120 metres this becomes a narrower tarmac path as you continue to the left-hand side of house number 30, past a ‘No Cycling’ sign, soon with a steep wooded valley below to your right-hand side.
- 200 metres down this narrower path, turn right on a tarmac road, your direction 235°, past No. 4 Taylor Cottage on your left-hand side. In 100 metres, just before a notice board with a map of the Royal Victoria Park,[!] take the middle fork road, slightly to your left, bearing a ‘No Entry’ sign, your direction 165°, marked ‘Police and Residents Only’. In 120 metres, having ignored ways off, go between two wooden posts on the 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°. In 60 metres, take a right fork.
- 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 to your right-hand side. Head for the chapel, due south, with a miniature railway track running parallel to your path. In 200 metres you come to the Netley Chapel, now The Heritage Visitor Centre.
- From the front of the chapel, head straight on for 140 metres to Southampton Water, down the path between lamp-posts, your direction 235°.
- At the pier head there, turn left along the shore, and in 90 metres, by the sailing club entrance, 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 fencing you will need to leave the beach up stone steps to follow the concrete path next to the fence, still along the shoreline.
- Go down steps and so under the pier (with its oil pipelines) to continue straight on until you reach the end of the fence. Here you continue along the shoreline for another 100 metres (ignoring earlier ways off to the left that are unmarked in any case) until [!] you reach a wide grassy bank with a bench which you ‘climb’ to leave the beach. You will notice half-left on a bearing of 65° some 15 metres away a board marked ‘Hamble Common – The Defence of the Realm.’ If you were to go left for 20 metres, just after this board, you would come to a wooden gate with a kissing gate to its left (and a green arrow denoting the Solent Way). However do not go this way but instead, from the bench take the path going back towards the oil terminal, your direction 330°.
- In 60 metres ignore a kissing gate on your right-hand side. In 25 metres, by a post marked Hamble Common Circular Trail , bear right with the path over an open grassy area, your direction 20°, the refinery now close and visible to your left, as you re-enter a wood. Soon the path becomes clearer again and you follow the trail signs.
- In 70 metres, cross over a two-plank footbridge. In 45 metres, fork left with the main trail. In a further 80 metres by a footpath-signed post by a rustic wooden bench go right (where to continue would lead you in a few metres to a rustic totem pole!).[!] Do not take the path going more or less back the way you came on a bearing of 175° but take the less obvious path bearing 140° .
- Stay with this twisty trail (houses visible to your left), in 180 metres going over wooden boards (by water) leading to a tarmac road. Turn left on this road, your direction 30°. In 40 metres turn right into a car park (by a hidden sign for Hamble Common), your direction 120°, to follow a path through the wood.
- In 90 metres, ignore a ‘Hamble Common’ sign to the left and keep to the Strawberry Trail. In a further 90 metres, keep straight on over wooden boards, then bear left, now beside the River Hamble. In 50 metres, bear left with the path and over a covered water pipe. Ignore a kissing gate to your left-hand side; keep going through the copse even when the path thins.
- In 160 metres, as you leave the woods, go over boards past a noticeboard and follow the car track onwards. In 50 metres, by the ‘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.
- Once over on the other side (after a 5 minute ride), turn left and follow the riverside causeway, heading north, for three kilometres, through mudflats, ignoring ways off, passing the Crableck Marina (and Nautical Nellie’s Café-Bar & Restaurant) , making your way through yachts on the slipways. Keep parallel to the shore and on designated footpaths where indicated.
- On reaching the tarmac road at the far end, go left, your direction 340°, soon passing Swanwick Shore Public Hard to your left-hand side. Ignore ways off and you come in due course to the main road, the A27, where you cross the road at the lights and turn left, your direction 305°. In 200 metres you come to the Spinnakker Pub and restaurant along the road, the suggested lunchtime stop.
- Coming out of the pub, continue on the main road. In 150 metres, go over the bridge, and then under the railway bridge. At this point, those ending the walk here can turn left to Bursledon Station, opposite the Yachtsman’s pub. The main walk turns right here, up Blundell Lane, your direction 50°.
- In 250 metres, where the tarmac public road goes left, carry straight on through Brixedone Farm (a boat repair yard). Soon you go under the motorway and in 20 metres [!] fork right over a stile and turn left, your direction 50°, to keep alongside the shore. In 60 metres go over another stile.
- In 80 metres, pick up the footpath forking half left diagonally across the field, your direction 20°. In 200 metres, you are beside a channel of water to your right-hand side that joins the river, your direction 330°. In 80 metres go through a potentially muddy hedge gap and in 50 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°. In 90 metres, by a bench at a fork, turn left on a path, your direction 50°, following yellow ringed wooden posts and occasional signs for Manor Farm.
- In 600 metres, your path opens up and there is now a car wide track with a wooden fence and field to your right-hand side, your direction 30°.
- Ignoring ways off, in one kilometre you come to Manor Park Farm. Here bear leftwards through the farm (ignoring the right fork with the large Manor Park sign), downhill, marked ‘No Unauthorised Vehicles’, past a post ringed blue and yellow, 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 on a signposted footpath, your direction 30°.
- In 350 metres, ignore a concealed and overgrown metal kissing gate to your right-hand side. In a further 70 metres, turn half right at the end of the hedge onto a broad way across pumpkin fields, your direction 60°.
- This brings you through an old metal kissing gate and 25 metres down onto a tarmac road. You turn right for 10 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 metal railings and 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 in 200 metres.
- On the other side of the road is Delicieux Café (tel 01489 790 463) and at least three pubs on or close to the main street plus a restaurant on the corner.
- Coming out of the café, turn left 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 Station, ignoring the A3051 right turn. By the station is the Railway Inn.
- The near platform is for Winchester, Basingstoke and London, although the opposite platform can get you to London via Fareham or Fratton.