Day 356 The New Forest National Park

Tuesday 26 July 2016

Bournemouth, Dorset to Lymington, Hampshire

15 miles

Hurst View Camping

I had a lie-in at Kath’s, partly because she wanted to walk with me (she’s not an early riser) and partly because she promised bacon sandwiches. Unfortunately Geoff couldn’t make it so Suzy drove for the sandwiches before we were up and we all set off together sometime around 10am. 

Suzy and Kath posing in front of the River Stour
Following Kath’s good advice we started with the Stour Valley Way, heading alongside Christchurch Harbour and out to Hengistbury Head. It was a grey day with dull light but I could still see for miles from the elevated position on top of the dunes covering Hengistbury Head. 

the view back to Bournemouth from Hengistbury Head
the River Stour from Hengistbury Head
the two spits guarding the entrance to Christchurch Harbour
There were some lovely beach huts on the spit of land protecting Christchurch Harbour. We were able to get a ferry across to mouth of the harbour to Mudeford, Christchurch. 

Me and Suzy on the Mudeford Ferry (note the lovely beach huts in the background – they cost a fortune)
We stopped at The Noisy Lobster next to Avon Beach, Mudeford for coffee and cake. 

lobster pots at the entrance to Christchurch Harbour
Before I knew it the afternoon was upon me and I’d hardly walked anywhere. It had been a lovely, relaxed morning though. I waved goodbye to Kath and Suzy and headed along Christchurch promenade, which was rather similar to Bournemouth’s. At some point I crossed into Hampshire. 

Christchurch beach
I asked a lifeguard if I could get all the way along the beach to Milford on Sea and he assured me I could, even though it was nearly high tide. Hmmm. Halfway along I passed the warning signs telling me cliff subsidence had made a section too dangerous to pass. I didn’t want to go back and there was no way up the high cliffs so I gingerly picked my way over the mud and boulders, following a route I could see had been travelled before. Fortunately I made it. If I had needed rescuing I was going to blame the lifeguard. 

it doesn’t look that bad from here!
The cliff erosion was quite stark and reminded me of Norfolk; the cliffs were composed of the same sort of sticky, clay/mud. 

the high cliffs around Barton on Sea
Either side of the landslip, however, there were plenty of people on the beach and lots of beach huts. Many of the ones at Milford on Sea had been damaged in the 2014 storms. 
more beach huts below the crumbling cliffs
Eventually I made it up to the clifftop and breathed a sigh of relief. The views were better from up here. 

the view back towards Bournemouth
the view onwards, towards Hurst Beach
I had a great view of The Needles as I reached Milford on Sea. There were some nice houses facing the sea but it all had a depressed air about it; it might have been the grey day. 

a man fishing off Hurst Beach; a great view of The Needles
Hurst Beach is a 2km spit of shingle, like a smaller version of Chesil Beach, that sticks out from Milford on Sea into the Solent. It forms a shifting barrier that protects the western approach to the Solent. I didn’t walk all the way along it to Hurst Castle and lighthouse at the end; that would have been tough going along the 300,000 cubic metres of shingle. I did learn that Hurst Castle was built in 1544 (another of Henry VIII’s forts) and that King Charles I was held prisoner there before his final journey to London. 

looking along Hurst Beach, the Isle of Wight in the background
Instead I turned North East, folowing the Solent Way along the fringes of the New Forest National Park. I skirted around the huge saltmarsh and mudflats created in the shelter of Hurst Spit. 

looking across Keyhaven Marshes to the Isle of Wight
At Pennington Marshes I headed inland slightly to my campsite. I was tired and camping did not enthrall me. I knew I needed a break when I managed to lose my phone charger (fortunately someone picked it up and left it on a picnic table). I had been planning to head to the Isle of Wight tomorrow and head home at the end of the week but I decided to change my plans and catch a train home tomorrow. That decision lifted my mood considerably; I did need a break. 

Me, Kath and Suzy on top of Hengistbury Head

One thought on “Day 356 The New Forest National Park

  1. Chris F August 7, 2016 / 2:11 pm

    Awesome day and another 15 miles closer…thankfully for your poor old feet not so many contours on this stretch……on on Juice.


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