Having thought I had walked all the Hampshire Coast I remembered that this was not quite true. When I first walked this stretch of the coast (which must have been getting on for 10 years ago now), I walked from Havant along the Hayling Billy Trail to the sea front and turned left. However the weather soon turned to heavy rain. I headed back by bus and then drove along the sea front, got out a bit further along, had a look around and did the same at the far end. So I never really walked the south coast of the island.
It was time to rectify that and I waited for a fine day of weather. It had so far been a warm but miserable winter, with the weather very mild but overcast with rain or drizzle pretty much every weekend since early November. But at last it was a good winter day, cold, but clear and sunny so I decided to head down to the coast.
I had to scrape the thick ice off my car before setting off and decided to stick to the main roads to avoid the risk of black ice. Despite this, the next road beyond mine was deep in water, because water was flowing out of one of the drains into the road (presumably a pipe burst in the cold weather), but the water (and it was water, rather than ice) turned out to be deeper than expected and was flowing over the kerb. I wondered if I might have to turn around, especially when I saw a bus heading the other way, the last thing I wanted was to get water thrown up by the bus in the engine, but fortunately it did not get any deeper. That little adventure dealt with I had a clear run down to Hayling Island and parked in the free car park by The Ship Inn in Langstone. I planned to walk around the eastern and southern coasts of the island, having walked the Hayling Billy Trail previously.
It was absolutely beautiful here, being shortly after sunrise, with the sun reflecting of the sand and mud flats of the harbour, giving a beautiful golden colour to everything. The camera did not quite capture how good it looked.
I soon headed over the bridge to the island. I was surprised (and a little dissapointed given it was the weekend) at just how much traffic there was even at this early hourly, I wanted to take photos from both sides of the bridge but had to wait quite some time for a gap in the traffic.
Looking over the harbour I could clearly see the remains of the old railway bridge which once carried trains onto Hayling Island.
Once onto the island I turned left off the main road onto Northney Road, and was quite glad to be free of the traffic. The road offered good views of the harbour.
Ahead I came to a large hotel, the Langstone. I wondered if the road ahead might give access to the coast, but I check of the map confirmed it just led into the hotel grounds and marina. I therefore continued along the road into the village of Northney. On the left I soon came to a car park which led into a grassy open area leading out to the coast. I could see dotted tracks on the map, so hoped this would allow me to walk along the coast and then rejoin the road a bit further up. So I took this route and found that it did indeed head up to the coast and gave fine views.
I followed it around the road to the end where the path on the sea wall stopped, so I had to head back to the houses.
I was confident there would be a path between the houses to the road, but sadly I was wrong. Whilst paths exist both the ones I found had locked gates separating me from the road, which seemed rather mean of the developer (and owners).
So I had to head back all the way I came, which was rather frustrating, and returned to the road. Here I turned left and follow the road, soon passing a rather nice looking thatched cottage on the right.
I continued along the road as it turned south into North Hayling, passing the pretty church.
I continued along the road to the small village of Tye where I was able to fork left on the minor road of Woodgastone Lane. I was hoping this would give me a break from the traffic, but it was initially still quite busy – but the reason soon revealed itself, there was a nursery (garden centre) down here. Once down here it was, as expected, quiet. On reaching a T-junction at the end of the road I forked left seeking out a hard to spot footpath on the map. Thankfully it was well signed with a green metal sign and I followed this track between houses to the coast again, at last.
There looked to be a track going around Gutner Point, but a rather firm signed informed me there was no public right of way east of here along the bank, so I’m glad I didn’t waste time trying to find the other end of the path earlier. I turned right and the path was beautiful, running on a low sea wall quite literally at the bottom of the gardens of the houses.
Sadly at the end it came down to a beach at a very run down looking building, with all sorts of junk around. The footpath was marked as going in front of all the buildings, but I couldn’t find a way through and on dropping down to the beach there was a boat moored up! So I ended on a rough track behind the building and back onto the coast, where I was glad to spot another footpath sign. This took me to a caravan park, although it looked like it might be one of those caravan parks which is residential, as there were a lot of touring caravans parked here for a January day. Sadly the footpath here which went just outside the caravan park was very wet and boggy, so I had difficulty getting along the first part of the path.
Once back at the road, I turned left. This took me down to the main road over the island (the A3023). The road was busy I had spotted a footpath off to the right which ran more or less parallel with the road I might follow. In the end I was pleased to see that despite not being built up, the road had a pavement, so I was able to follow that instead and hence keep onto the road. As the road turned to the right I could take a path to the left, which went in front of a school and past a bus stop. I was then looking for the footpath that headed south to Turnerbury Farm. I concluded it must be the access drive to a large holiday village. This was called Mill Rythe and you go under a large arch to reach it.
I was surprised how many people were walking along the path staying at the holiday village perhaps? When the houses on the right ended, I spotted the footpath going off to the right, this time a well surfaced path which passed the golf course on the right and brought me out at Eastwood Close where I continued ahead to Tournerbury Lane, where I turned right. I now took the second road on the left, Beech Grove, helpful signed as a footpath right from the top of the road. I continued to the end and picked up the footpath. Sadly a new housing estate is being built on the right here, so the open land shown on the map no longer exists. Signs ahead warned me the path I was walking on was subjec to a temporary closure order, starting the previous day, but there was no evidence of this other than the sign. So I ignored it and was able to follow this down to Mengham.
Here I crossed the road leading to Mengham House and continued ahead where upon I was immediately told by a women coming the other way “this isn’t a public footpath”. It turned out I was meant to have turned half right just back, so I had to retrace my steps and take the correct path which took me down to the road at Salterns Lane. I now turned left to follow this road.
I kept with this road where I forked left on the path to Mengham Salterns. I nearly headed up a dead-end again as I realised the path went just to the left of the road but realised just in time. This took me around the marina and back at last to the coast of the island. I was now overlooking the oddly named My Lord’s Pond. Once again this was beautiful although the tide was out revealing a large expanse of mud.
I turned right and followed the well signed path around the marina and along the sea wall. If you check on the map this randomly seems to stop part way around but I can confirm there is a footpath through.
I rounded a small area at Selsmore where there was a small muddy harbour, or perhaps a small part of sea wall that had been breached, I’m not sure which.
I was now rounding an area marked as holiday village, although I didn’t really notice this until I passed the pleasant boating lake which even had the fountain going despite the cold temperatures.
Beyond this though I was into caravan territory as I headed along the northern edge of another creek (un-named on the map).
At the end the path came out to a road, St Herman’s Road, where I turned left. At the end of the road, Southwood Road, I turned left. I was close to the sea now, but cutting through would be cheating, so I turned left into Eastoke Avenue. My plan was to follow this to the end, where there was a footpath marked. It was an odd road. Initially it was all houses, but after a while the houses on the left stopped and I had numerous small caravan parks. Whilst advertised as holiday parks they looked more residential to me, they all had very many signs warning it was private property.
For a while these small caravan parks were mixed in with houses, but soon I began to get only caravans on the left and soon on the right too. Then even more oddly, the road became unmade and pot holed. I wondered if it was private, but there was nothing to indicate that it was. I ignored roads off to the right until I saw there was a fence barring my way ahead. It seemed my road had come to an end which was not clear from the map. So I turned right instead on Haslemere Gardens. This too was an odd mix of houses and private caravan parks, but was a tarmac road. I had to follow this as it turned right meaning I was heading back west again, and at the end of the road turned left (south) into Bosmere Road.
At the end, rejoining the main road, I turned left along Sandy Point Road. This soon became a road that looked very much like a private road, but I could see a footpath marked on map to my right. In addition, Sandy Point Nature Reserve was marked as open access on my right so I assumed I could go into here, but where there was a gate (in fact I passed two) it was padlocked and a sign stated it was closed until further notice to avoid disturbance to the wildlife. Hmm, trying to keep the “riff raf” out perhaps?
Thankfully I was on the right road and I soon spotted my footpath off to the right. As hoped I could follow this through the reserve and down to the beach. At last, I head reached the sea.
To complete my walk I turned left and followed the beach to head to the end of the spit. The tide had now come in but there was still a bit of hard sand mixed with shingle at the shore line I could follow north. I followed this to the slipway at the Hayling Island Sailing Club, where the beach briefly became sand. I then began to head back but stopped to sit on some of the rocks at the back of the beach (put there to protect the sailing club building I expect), to have lunch.
I then continued along the beach as it turned to head west, so I was looking out south over the coast. Sadly large rocky groynes had been built here meaning that I had to climb over the rocks to get past each groyne. I quickly abandoned this idea and had to take the up the path along the back of the beach instead.
Soon the houses started and immediately they did so, the path became a tarmac promenade. Perhaps due to winter storms, or perhaps it is always like this, a line of shingle had built up to my left meaning that I couldn’t actually see or hear the sea, it was just over the shingle back, which was a bit frustrating.
I continued on this path passing the first of the beach car parks. Just after this wooden groynes had been built parallel with the coast at the back of the beach, but there was a little wooden stair case over this down onto the beach. I could see now that at the shoreline there was a line of slightly firmer shingle mixed with hard sand, and we were now back to the more traditional wooden groynes, which were low enough to step over. So I was pleased to be able to return to walking along the shoreline, back in sight and sound of the sea.
The views were beautiful. Over to my left I could see the eastern coast of the Isle of Wight and the ferries coming and going, as well as the Solent Forts.
A little further to my right I could make out the Spinnaker Tower and various other tower blocks on Portsea Island, in Portsmouth. I now continued on the beach passing numerous beach huts, which added some character.
I was soon passing a small amusement park on the right, no doubt busy in the summer but more or less deserted in the winter, I didn’t go over to see if it was even open. Continuing on the beach I soon came to the Inn on the Beach, which lives up to it’s name. It was built part on the beach with a concrete extension I tihnk housing the beer garden jutting out onto the beach. I tried to get around the shore side of this but the tide was too high, so I had to head the inland side of it to get around. Once past it, I returned to the beach and soon the groynes ended too, so I could walk more easily along the beach.
Soon I was rounding the corner, with the buildings at the eastern end of Portsea Island now very visible ahead. There was a brick fort visible on the other side, Fort Cumberland.
The beach now narrowed and became more shingly rather than sand as I approached the western most tip of the island. It was despite this still quite busy with dog walkers and soon the reason for this became clear, as I was passing another car park on the right, where I decided to join the raised path just to the left of the car park, as walking on the shingle was becoming hard work. At the end I reached the Ferry Boat Inn.
From here there used to be a ferry over to Porsea Island, but sadly it stopped running earlier in 2015 after the company went bust. However since I wrote this – good news – the ferry has resumed having raised funding locally, with Richard Branson even contributing. It now runs year round once more.
I now followed the road that headed out to the pub passing a chalet come caravan park on the left and then on my left I had an area of salt marsh, the Kench, which was really beautiful.
At the end of this a track went off to the left with a sign marking it as a nature reserve. I decided to see if I could follow it and it was a good path right down to the shore line. I then turned right on a path that followed just along the back of the beach. Ahead I could see what looked like a garden, but could see people walking about and benches so assumed it was open to the public. But I soon began to have second thoughts, it looked like it was private as I got further along. I decided to continue and at the end I passed a car park and continue ahead but realised I had come to a dead-end with salt marsh ahead.
I returned to the car park and followed this inland, soon realised I was wandering around the grounds of a private hotel. Oops!
I followed the road through the car park to the road, passing some very conspicuous security cameras, then turned left. I had previously followed the Hayling Billy Trail which follows the old railway line along the western coast of the island (but that will be for the next post). I decided I was too tired for this again on this day and in any case it would soon be getting dark. So I headed back along the road heading east in search of a bus.
I had to get quite close to the A3023 before I came across a bus stop. Confusingly, buses on both sides of the road were shown as going to Havant, but I opted for the south side of the road because it looked like buses going this way were more direct. This turned out to be correct. The bus arrived on time and took about 15 minutes to get me back to Langstone, where I got off. It took me another couple of minutes just to get across the busy road back to my car!
It had been a lovely walk on a very good winter day which I had very much enjoyed. It struct me that the coast of Hayling Island is very much like a summary of the coast of Hampshire, with small harbours and salt marsh and long shingle beaches. I returned to take photos of Langstone now with the tide in – quite a transformation!
I then went to use the toilet, finding it locked, so went in the one in the pub instead, then drove home.
Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk :
Stagecoach 30/31 : Havant (Bus Station) – Langstone – Mill Rythe – Mengham – Eaststoke – Beachlands – West Town – Mill Rythe – Langstone – Havant Bus Station. Between the two routes, every 15 minutes Monday – Saturday and twice an hour on Sundays.