Coastal breezes whip your hair as you meander on a pathway close to where the river Hamble meets Southampton Water in the Solent.
There are plenty of places to stop and admire the view on this six-mile circular ramble. Look across the gently lapping water and watch the bustle in the popular marina. Reluctant walkers can catch a ride in the bright pink Hamble-Warsash ferry, which links the middle section of the walk.
Hamble marina is a popular spot with pleasure yachts ©Getty
1. Beginning in Burlesdon
Park in the Burlesdon station car park. Take the footpath out of the car park, signposted to The Jolly Sailor. Fork left and follow Burlesdon High Street. Bear left at the telephone box and pass the Vine Inn on your left. Stay on the road until it becomes Kew Lane then take a left by a thatched cottage.
2. Walk through woodland
Join a footpath on the right – known as the Strawberry Trail and marked with waymarkers bearing a picture of the red fruit. Stay on the footpath until you reach Hungerford. Walk along the road for a short time, before bearing left to rejoin the footpath and follow it through the woods. Cross over a railway.
3. Abandoned airfield
Cross over Satchell Lane and continue left along the footpath into the airfield on the other side. In WWII it was used as an airbase for training aircraft, including Spitfires and Lancasters, but is now deserted. Follow this footpath until it meets a small residential lane. Continue along this lane, then turn left onto Hamble High Street.
4. Lunch by the quay
Continue along the High Street, bearing right towards the quay at the end. The sweeping marina views from the Beach Hut cafe’s terrace, situated on the quay, provide the perfect opportunity to stop and refuel.
After a break, take the little pink Hamble-Warsash ferry over the Hamble River. Pedestrian only, the same route has been covered by a ferry since 1493.
In Warsash, with your back to the river, turn left and continue along the river footpath. This footpath is built on a levee with water on either side – when the tide is out, the resulting mudflats are a good place to see coastal birdlife.
Golden Plovers are one of the species that can be spotted on the mudflats by the Hamble river ©Getty
5. Wreckage in the river
The wreck of one of King Henry V’s ships, the Holigost, was identified from aerial photos in 2015 at the bottom of the Hamble river. Approximately 600 years old, the ship’s remains are being protected by Historic England before they are excavated.
At the end of the river path, join the road and walk over the bridge. Having crossed the bridge, turn left and follow Church Lane then bear left onto Station Road and back to the station car park.
For further information on the area, visit the Hamble Valley website and click here to check the times of the Hamble-Warsash ferry.
Main image: ©Getty