River Hamble,and Solent Way coast path past Meon, Browndown, Stokes Bay and Gilkicker Point
|Length||12.1 miles (19.4 km) to Stokes Bay. No ascent. Add 3.0 miles ( 4.8 km) for Gosport.|
|Toughness||1 out of 10|
|OS Maps||Explorer OL3 Portsmouth|
This walk follows the River Hamble path down to the Solent Estuary. It then follows the England Coast Path / Solent Way along the esuray shoreline, then the coast to Gosport with seaviews throughout.
The River Hamble path is picturesque, with Yacht Marinas, and by the river mouth, the Hook with Walsash (South) Nature Reserve, which is good for bird watching - the path passes a high tide roosting spot. Leaving the river path, you continue along the esturay shoreline - the most remote section of the walk. Its a pleasent shingle beach, with some picturesque isolated trees (nice shady picnic spots) which will become a landmark on the horizon as you look back towards them further in the walk.
Between the nature reserve and the beaches further on is a chalet holiday park. The cliff top path has a long inland detour around it, but except at high tide, you can easily follow the beach in front of it. However, there is a small scection of about 50m, by the new retaining sea wall north of the slipway, which is blocked at high tide only. Even then, you might be able to paddle around (with shoes, its stoney), but beware of soft mud. You cannot walk through the Holiday Park. For one, its private, and for two, there's no coast path exit on north side. Check the tide times here which are unusual - 4 tides a day instead of 2.
Next is Brownwich Beach, and then Meon Beach. There is a pleasent cliff top coast path with nice views. The beach is a low shingle bank with sand, and at low tide, a very wide flat sand/mud beach - waterproof shoes, sandles or surf shoes recommended. There are several gaps in the low cliffs, so you can swap between the easy cliff top path, and beach walking below. A few naturists use Meon Beach.
At the end of the beach, you come to some beach chalets. Either continue along the wide beach (mid/low tide), or at high tide, a path behind them. Next is a low sea wall with parking. Choose between the coast path with views inland over the lakes of Titchfield Haven nature reserve, or the beach itself.
You soon come to a small harbour. This is the end of the rural section. The next stage is on a hard surfaced paths. You pass Hill Head (raised inland path behind houses, but with views over the beach below, or the beach path below).
Next is Lee-on-Solent, a seaside town, with a nice wide sea front promenade, shops, cafes, and a hovercraft museum.
Ahead your way is blocked by Browndown Army Training Area. Check in advance. If the base is open, its a nice rural 2km coast walk over (relatively) easy shingle, but if the red flags are flying, you must take the 2.5km inland road walking detour.
Next is the long sweep of Stokes Bay. There's a nice seafront path as you walk towards Fort Gilkicker / Gilkicker Point on the horizon. This marks the end of the estuary, and start of the sea, with the Isle of Wight clearly visible. The suggested end of the walk (bus routes!) is here, at the Pebbles cafe on the promenade. Just inland is the bus stop.
You can continue on to the Point and Fort (its not open, its being 'developed' into housing), and then retrace your steps, or continue further along the coast to Gosport's seafront, but see below if you do this.
Gilkicker Point to Gosport
[Updated May-20]. There are 2 problems, 1 small, 1 big!
#1 (Small) The coast path after Gilkicker Point is blocked by Fort Monkton (an army base). There is an OK inland detour around it (and a golf course), passing a lake, then 0.5km of road.
Return to the coast (by a car park and golf club entrance) to walk along a newly opened section of coast path in front of a former prison with interesting sea views.
#2 (Big) Ahead, after a road, is the former Haslar Naval Hospital (being redeveloped). You can continue ahead along a wide seafront path (recommended - interesting views of the channel), but its a dead end (an MOD area). This path is private, and may be closed with the redevelopment. The current way ahead is along an inland road with very high walls on both sides. Its an unpleasent walk. At the end of it is a nice section, marinas and Gosport's seafront, which leads to the Gosport-Portsmouth Ferry Terminal, and bus station for Fareham.
Once the new development have finished, 1km of unpleasent road walking will hopefully be replaced with be nice seafront walk with Isle of White views. The England Coast Path plan in unclear on this.
Fort Blockhouse (was HMS Dolphin), at the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour is still a miltary base.
There is a direct bus from Bursledon or better still, Warwarsh (near the mouth of the River Hamble) to Stokes Bay.
Start in Netley
You could start in Netley, following the start of our Netley to Botley walk, crossing the river Hamble Ferry, and pick up the walk in Warwash. This is slightly longer, but has more coast path.
Take a train from London Waterloo to Burseldon (2 hours), changing at either Southampton, Hilsea or Fareham. Buy a train ticket to Burseldon.
Lee-on-Solent: Catch Bus X5 (every 30 mins, 45 mins) to Fareham Station. Drivers, continue on the bus all the way back to Warsach (1 hr 15) or Bursledon.
Stokes Bay: By Pebbles Cafe, walk 25m to the main road, and take bus X5 as above.
Lifeboat Station: Walk back to Pebbles Cafe, and catch the bus.
Gilkicker Point: Walk on to the bus stop outside Fort Monckton. Take bus #11 to Fareham (every 30 mins, 1 hour)
Gosport (A): Take a bus to Fareham (frequent, 40 mins)
Gosport (B): Take the ferry (£3.70 single or return, every 15 mins) to Portsmouth Harbour, and catch the train. Your train ticket might not be valid. You may have to buy a single to Hilsea (where the lines meet).
After the walk, we would love to get your feedback
Out (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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