The Solent Way path is covers 60 miles of the Hampshire Coastline from Milford on Sea, where it connects with the Bournemouth Coast Path, through to the Sussex border at Emsworth Harbour.
It takes you through busy sea fronts, yachting harbours, deserted marshland and saltings. There are castles and forts to explore, ships, submarines and museums to visit along the way and you get to see marshes and lagoons at the south end with fauna such as foxtail stonewart, sea anemones and lagoon shrimps.
It is well signposted with a Tern on a green arrow.
Ordnance Survey maps covering this walk include: Explore IL22 and Landranger 119 and 120.
The Solent Way website contains details of the walk together with a breakdown of 8 smaller walks that can be achieved more easily They also have a PDF document which contains a leaflet on the walk. Which as well as giving you some historical background to the area that is covered by the path also gives details of some of the things you may get to see.
As with all long distance paths it can be broken down into interesting sections and this one is no different splitting into 8 management short walks. These are:-
Mildford on Sea to Lymington (9 miles)
This section starts in the seaside town of Milford on Sea and follows the shoreline to Hurst Castle Spit at the end of which is Hurst Castle.
One of Henry VIII's artillery forts built at the end of a long shingle spit at the went end of the solent to guard the approaches to the Navel Dockyard at Portsmouth. Charles I was imprisoned there in 1648 before being taken to London for his trial and execution. During WWII it was manned with coastal gun batteries and searchlights. It is now owned by English Heritage.
Lymington to Beaulieu (10 miles)
Along this stretch you will cross the Lymington River and head inland slightly into the New Forest to Sowley Pond, then along the lanes to Bucklers Hard village where you will see the remains of an 18th century village and a Maritime Museum telling the story of ship building at Bucklers.
Beaulieu to Hythe (6 miles)
The home of Beaulieu Abbey, Palace House and the National Motor Museum. On the way out of the village the path climbs onto Beaulieu Heath a moorland area where you might get to see nightjar, snipe or redshank birds. Or you could of course stop off at Exbury Gardens, a 200 acre woodland garden and steam railway.
Hythe to Hamble (7 miles)
At Hythe Pier catch the Ferry across to Southampton's Town Quay and make your way through woodland and past Netley Castle and the ruins of Netley Abbey before continuing onto Hamble, you could take a detour and take a visit to Bursledon Windmill.
Hamble to Hill Head (5 miles)
Along this stretch of the walk there are two nature reserves, the first is the Hook with Warsash Nature Reserve and the second is the Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve with reedbeds, saltings and marshes.
Hill Head to Gosport (8 miles)
From Hill Head the next stretch follows a long shingle beach to Lee-on-the-Solent and onto Stokes Bay, you are now entering Naval history territory and can see a fort out to sea as well as a land fort and eventually arriving in Gosport where you could visit the Gosport Discovery Centre or Royal Navy Submarine Museum.
Gosport to Langstone (12 miles)
From Gosport take the Ferry across to Portsmouth and pick up the path to follow the coast line, to the west you'll see the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard the home of HMS Victory and the Mary Rose amongst loads more. Past the Spinnakar Tower reaching up to the sky, and then onto the neck of the harbour and along to Southsea before making is way around Langstone Harbour and the Farlington Marshes.
Langstone to Emsworth (3 miles)
This final small section runs along the shoreline pass the old waterside village of Langstone and its millhouse. Then on past the ruins of Warblington Castle and across the water you can see Hayling Island, then on through the fields and woods to Emsworth and its millponds.
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