Saturday 12th August 2000
Eastney – Langstone
Summer had returned and Jen had a day off from her summer job in Sainsbury’s so we headed for the coast once more.
We set off early again, and arrived at Portsmouth Harbour Station at 9.30am. We had changed our original plan to walk along the shore of Hayling Island for two reasons. Firstly, there had been disturbing reports in the previous few weeks of a nasty sounding criminal who attacks walkers along the old Railway Line in Hayling, which would have been our route. Secondly, further inspection of the map revealed Hayling to be an offshore island. Our only guidelines for this trip, both self-imposed, were to not venture onto offshore islands and to cross all estuaries by the first crossing inland. The decision, therefore, was made to continue along the Solent Way up the eastern shore of Portsmouth and around the northern edge of Langstone Harbour.
So, we took a taxi from Portsmouth Harbour station to the seafront at Eastney at the point where the road turns inland. We had previously branched off here towards the Hayling Ferry but this time continued up the road past the swimming baths. We walked through a park and a built up area to reach the sea on the edge of Langstone Harbour. It was a straightforward and easy walk up the side of Portsea Island, pleasant in parts but in others spoiled by the proximity of a main road that also runs along the shore.
At the northern end of Portsea, the path turns right and follows the coast as far as the entrance to Farlington Marshes. We were still in the shadow of the main road as the path squeezed between the water and the traffic but as the road is on a viaduct here, it was not too intrusive.
Farlington Marshes is an RSPB reserve, very quiet and almost deserted and suddenly we were in open country again. The only other people we saw had long lens cameras and binoculars to watch the many rare birds that live here. The path followed the sea all the way and was a mixture of gravel, stones, tarmac and grass. The sun was blazing hot and there was no shade so we were very glad of the strong sea breeze. At the end of the marshes, the path continued along the harbour edge to a creek.
We were rather unsure of the way here so slavishly followed the Solent Way guidebook instruction to walk past a slipway, under a road called Hart’s Farm Road, then over a footbridge high above the A27 and under a railway line.
By then, we were ready for lunch so walked a little further inland in search of a pub in the small village of Bedhampton. Before we found a pub, however we found a beautiful park and a seat in the shade of a holly tree. We had food with us so decided that this would be our lunch spot. To add to the enjoyment a cricket match was in progress so entertainment was laid on.
After a good break, we found the Solent Way again, or so we thought. We carefully followed the instructions in the guidebook once more and got thoroughly lost. However, after some careful navigating with the street atlas and with the help of a couple of locals, we found ourselves back in the right direction and heading back towards Langstone Harbour. At this point, we realised that new roads had been built since the guide book had been published and that all our meanderings had brought us back onto Harts Farm Road about 100 yards from the place where we had crossed it earlier and the steps we had ignored at this point led up onto the road and had a matching flight down on the other side. Much annoyed with ourselves, we followed a pathway through some woods that emerged by the sea on the opposite side of the creek we had left a couple of hours before.
The final lap was around a wilderness area called South Moor, still right next to the sea. The path followed the side of a small inlet then over a bridge into Mill Lane. Mill Lane in turn emerged onto Langstone Road near the bridge into Hayling Island. It was now 5pm and we decided we had had enough walking for one day. We had a drink in The Ship Inn on Langstone Harbour then caught the bus back into Havant and the train home.
Running Total 37.4 miles