With seven more walking days left, I need to get a move on if I wanted to complete my coastal walk within the next 4 to 6 weeks, so I opt to do a two day walk with an overnight stay.
As usual, I beat the early morning commuter traffic by setting off very early from my home in Shropshire. I made excellent progress until I reached the M27 on the outskirts of Southampton, which was closed for “smart[?]” motorway upgrade. The diversion was poorly signposted and I ended up about 20 minutes late, but still able to catch my train. I parked in a free car park in Portchester. I then walked 400m to the train station and caught the 06:17 train to Havant, here I alighted and walked the short distance to the bus station and caught the 06:40 #30 bus to Hayling Island where I got off the bus at the Ship Inn.
I set off walking along the Solent Way, which followed the shoreline around Langstone Harbour. The forecast was for dry and sunny weather and already I could feel the early morning heat. At South Moor a section of the sea wall had been breached, allowing the marsh behind it to drain into the Harbour. The noise from the nearby A27 got increasingly louder until the footpath eventually ran alongside this really busy road. Fortunately, this did not last long as I was soon heading south on the sea bank around Farlington Marshes, another small promontory jutting out into Langstone Harbour.
The Solent Way rejoined the A27 which morphed into the M27. I turned away from this and headed across a bridge onto Portsea Island alongside the equally busy A2030. Although the Solent Way hugs the shoreline, access was not possible because of the ongoing construction for improved sea defences. I was able to get back on the shoreline at Milton Common, but this was only short-lived as a marina and allotments got in my way. I made a short detour inland before emerging on the shingle beach at Eastney.
It was tough walking over the shingle, so I dropped down to the waters edge and made good progress over the firm sand. I was soon at the South Parade Peer where I could make out the Solent Forts of Horse Sand, No Mans Land and Spithead. Looking across the Solent to the Isle of Wight I make out a myriad of sailing vessels of all sorts, most of them recreational and all enjoying the hot sun. After the pier I came to Southsea Castle,built in 1544 and in remarkably good condition. The ground soon opened up to a large grassy area where I came across the Crimean War memorial and the impressive Royal Navy War Memorial with its lions on plinths in the couchant positions just like Nelson’s statue in London.
After stopping to watch a rather noisy hovercraft arriving from Ryde across the Solent, I entered Old Porstmouth. Although quite a small area it contained a number of old forts and defence positions, as well as old cobbled streets. At the Point, which included a couple of really enticing pubs I got my first unobstructed view of the Spinnaker Tower, which I had been looking at for the last three walks! At 170m in height the Tower’s design and shape is certainly iconic with its nautical theme and has almost become the symbol of the city since its construction in 2005.
There were queues for the historic naval dockyard, but it had become very hot so I continued on and out of the city. Portsmouth is certainly a place I would like to come back to and explore more fully. My task now was to find my way around the high walls of the Naval dockyard which occupies a considerable portion of Portsmouth. I rejoined the A3 and made my way past the container and passenger terminals and out along the arterial roads.
At Stamshaw, I cut through residential streets to join The Pilgrims Way pass by the large Mountbatten Leisure Centre and continue along the recently constructed sea wall around Tipner Lake, which is part of Portsmouth Harbour. I emerged on a large busy roundabout on the A27, which I would stay on until the end of my days walk.
Back at the car I had then had the simple task of driving the short distance in Gosport to my hotel for the night and a much needed pint of Doombar.
Distance today = 20 miles
Total distance = 6,567 miles