I set off towards Lymington. This small lane is the official Solent Way. Luckily the road is almost free of traffic today and I make good progress.
I pass an old tithe barn with a green space outside. Horses roam freely on the grass and across the road.
As the road slopes gently upwards, I can see across green fields to the sea and to the Isle of Wight beyond. I pass a information sign and realise this was the site of an important airfield during the war – Needs Oar Point – from which bombers flew in support of the D-Day landings.On my map, the spit of land at the entrance to Beaulieu River is called Needs Ore Point. I thought this was an odd name. What sort of ore would you need here? Now I realise the correct spelling is ‘oar’ and the name makes far more sense.
Further up the lane I come across an old-fashioned Volkswagon camper van following a smaller car. Both vehicles pull to the side of the road and I am immediately suspicious. I have seen nobody all morning. Why are these people stopping near me?
But it is nothing sinister; only two women, one in each vehicle, and they are lost. They are looking for a place called Sowley Corner where there is a man who fixes these old Volkswagen buses. I get out my map and my iPhone with my GPS. I find a Sowley Pond. It is back the way they came. Is that it? We don’t know but they decide to head back. The road is too narrow for them to turn around in. So they are forced to drive onwards.Some few minutes later, they pass me, in convoy again, heading back along the road. I come to a staggered crossroads and turn left. Some twenty minutes later, I meet them again, driving up the road – back towards me. The woman driving the camper van waves when she sees me and points to a man who is sitting beside her. “He knows the way,” she mouths at me through the windscreen.
I continue walking along the road and come, at last, to a footpath sign. It is a relief to be off the road and I really enjoy this part of the walk. I walk along the side of a field and follow the public footpath into a wood. I meet nobody else.
The woods are wild in places with fallen trunks and thick undergrowth.Other sections have trees planted in regular ranks – for timber I presume. At one point, I walk through a farm area. There is a lovely avenue of trees and the footpath leads straight down the middle.
I look around. The public footpath leads into this field. I can see no bulls. I continue and realise that the field next to me is where the cows are and, maybe, the bull in the distance. I am safe on this side of the fence.
Safely through the field, I walk through more woods. I hear the sound of things falling from the trees. At first I think it is acorns but then I realise it is horse chestnuts (conkers) falling around me.On the other side of the forest, and across another field, I am on a road again. The official Solent Way leads up to the right and through a place called Snooks Farm. But I turn left and follow the small lane around two sides of a triangle. I do this because this in the closest route to the sea. Not that I actually see the sea. I pass a fine looking country club hotel and reach a busy little road. Ahead I see this odd site – large polythene tunnels with their ends tucked up. They look like a group of giant plastic caterpillars. I round a corner and there is the sea – finally – just ahead of me. Here is the Ferry port where you can catch a ferry over to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. Tomorrow, my husband is taking his mother over to see Queen Victoria’s Osborne House on the Island.
I walk past the ferry port and head down the road along the river towards Lymington. It is late and I am hungry – so I am very pleased to spot this attractive pub. When I walk in, I am the only customer.
But it is bank holiday Monday and they don’t do food. What a disappointment!
The road leading into Lymington is busy and I cross over Lymington River, heading into the old part of the town.
I notice the ‘Otters Crossing’ sign. I have never seen this before. Not that I think it does much good to have such a sign. The cars whiz by at a fair speed anyway.Lymington has a lovely area by the water – wide walkways and some nice eating places. I sit inside (they only have benches outside and I want a comfortable seat) and have a good meal.
From the pub, I can look across the water at the boats moored in the calm water by the bridge. And, an added bonus, I can watch the trains go by on the other side of the river – heading for the Isle of Wight ferry terminal.
From here, I walk along the waterfront. There is an outdoor seawater swimming pool – looking rather sad at this time of year with no water and no bathers.
I head past the bustling marina at the mouth of Lymington River and come to an area of open land with a series of ponds – and with paths winding around them. This strip along the shore is shown on the map as being a National Park and signs tell me this is the Lymington – Keyhaven nature reserve.
Now I find there are plenty of footpaths, including one right by the water – at last, I can walk by the sea – with great views across to the Isle of Wight.
So the last four or five miles of this walk turn out to be the best section of the day’s walking. Unfortunately, the clouds have come over and, as the sun sinks lower, for much of the time the light is too dim for good photography.Across the water, in the far distance, I can see a tall, white spire on the horizon. Through my telephoto camera lens, I discover it is the Spinnaker Tower – all the way over in Portsmouth. (Later, I get out my map and string and discover this is 20 miles away as the crow flies.) With my lens out on full zoom, I take a photo of the Spinnaker. I guess this is the last time I will see it on my walk around the coast.
The tide is out and there is plenty of mud to see.
The walkway through the nature reserve is well maintained and flat. At first I meet plenty of families with pushchairs and people with dogs but, as I leave Lymington further behind, I find I am on my own, apart from the occasional jogger.
This has been another long walk (by my standards) and I am getting tired.
I am pleased to see Keyhaven ahead. This is a lovely place and I approach it across a bridge.
Unfortunately, there is nowhere to sit in the middle of Keyhaven – just a large car park. So, while I wait for my husband to arrive to collect me, I am forced to visit the pub. It is early, only just 5 o’clock, and I find the pub door is shut. While I wait outside, a few people join me. By the time the landlord arrives to open up, quite a queue has formed – but I’m in the front!
Vital stats: Miles walked = 14