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Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Walk 105 Alverstoke to Bursledon (Hants)

 Walk  105  Alverstoke to Bursledon (Hants)

(Second leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs to Lands End)

Map: L/R 196
Distance: 13 miles approx. or 20 km
Difficulty: Easy
Terrain: mainly paths, some shingle and pavement
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport: Several buses from Alverstoke to surrounding areas – trains and buses from Bursledon

Start the walk in the Browndown area of Gosport, near Alverstoke. There is a permissive path mainly on shingle which runs alongside MOD land used for military training.  This finishes on arrival at Lee on Solent.

This small town got its name in the 19th century when there were serious attempts to develop it into a seaside resort. It had a pier built at this time but this was demolished in 1958. The town has long been associated with flying; seaplane trials started here in 1915. The Royal Navy base HMS Daedalus is here and the large red buildings back from the sea front provide accommodation for personnel working there. The actors Lawrence Olivier and Ralph Richardson trained as pilots here during World War 2. Look out for the hovercraft museum – large examples of these craft are clearly visible on the seafront.

After leaving Lee on Solent you arrive at Hill Head; its harbour was created by the movement of shingle. Prior to the 16th century this area was uninhabited and was sometimes referred to as Hell Head because of the dangerous waters.

A short distance from Hill Head is Titchfield Haven. This is a nature reserve nationally renowned as a winter refuge for ducks, wading birds and geese and a summer breeding area for the rare avocet.

I found the walk from here to Warsash rather chilly even on a summer’s day. On the other side of Southampton Water is the rather ugly view of the large oil refinery at Fawley.

After a few miles you arrive at Warsash with its distinctive clock-tower. The nearby Rising Sun is a particularly attractive pub and worth popping in for a drink. A plaque on the pub wall records the fact nearly 3000 hand picked and highly trained commandos embarked from the town on the day before D Day as a vanguard for the main assault. For those of us who remember it, the TV series Howard’s Way was partly filmed at Warsash.  A ferry departs from the harbour to Hamble Le Rice on the other side of the River Hamble – there is evidence of a ferry being here from the 1400s. The ‘hard’ where it lands is reputed to be very old. Look out for the Royal Thames Yacht Club (the oldest such club in the UK formed in 1775) who own an area here. In past centuries the town was important for ship building. The unusual name for the town is thought to come from the name of a seagrass meadow in the 1500s.

Continue the walk northwards along the River Hamble passing the marina near Bursledon. Near this point is the wreck of The Norseman, a wooden ship built in 1847; it was gutted by fire in World War 2 and beached on the mud. The Elephant Boatyard located in Old Bursledon was where Henry V111’s boats were built. The area including the Jolly Sailor pub was another location for filming of the TV series Howards Way.

Follow the A27 and bridge into Bursledon.
Snaps show: The Rising Sun at Warsash; the shingly beach from Alverstoke with MOD land in the background; hovercraft at Lee on Solent; Bursledon marina.

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