69 (part 2). Hurst Castle to Christchurch

Hurst Castle stands at the bulbous end of a thin, curved finger of shingle bank, stretching a couple of miles into the sea. According to my walking rules, I didn’t have to journey down this narrow spit of shingle – it is a dead-end, after all. I could have simply walked across its neck, shaving a couple of miles off my walk today. But I couldn’t resist the Ferry ride out to the castle and I am glad I came.

I set off to walk back along the shingle towards the mainland, past groups of people strolling along the bank heading for Hurst Castle. The clouds are breaking up to allow occasional patches of sunlight.

To my right, I look across marsh and stretches of calm water to the moored ships at Keyhaven, from where I started my journey this morning.

looking back to Keyhaven, Hampshire. Ruth's coast walk.

Behind me, Hurst Castle begins to diminish in size as I make my way along the shingle.

looking back to Hurst Castle, Ruth's walk around the coast, Hampshire

Ahead of me, I see the houses and shoreline of Milford on Sea.

Looking forward to Milford on Sea, Ruth walks along the Hampshire coast

To my left is a wonderful view of The Needles with a great bank of cloud rolling over the high ground of the Isle of Wight.

Needles, Ruth's coastal walk.

No matter what the weather is like, The Needles always manage to look dramatic.

Needles - monoprint - by Tim Baynes, my artist in residence. And here is a fantastic monoprint, done by my wonderful Artist in Resident, Tim Baynes.

I asked Tim to produce a painting and emailed one of my photos to him. But Tim knows this area well and had already sketched and painted The Needles.

For more of Tim’s work, take a look at my Artist in Residence page. Here you’ll also find a page of his sketch book from which he made the final painting.

promenade, Milford on Sea, Ruth's walk along Hampshire Coast I come to the end of the shingle and join the promenade, running along the seafront of Milford on Sea.

crumbling cliffs, Barton on Sea, Ruth's coastal walk
At the end of the prom, I find a stretch of crumbling cliffs. It may be possible to walk along the beach at low tide, I don’t know. Today the tide is high and I walk along the top of the cliffs, past fields of cows.

The sky has cleared and it is warm for the end of September. Below me I even see a man swimming in the sea.

a very polite golf course notice - Barton on Sea, Ruths coastal walkI come across the ubiquitous golf course. Here is the nicest golf ball warning sign I have come across so far. Thumbs up to Barton on Sea golf club.

Kestrel on fence post, Barton on Sea Golf Club, Ruth's coastal walk Just past the golf greens, and I see this bird sitting on a fence post. It is a kestrel. I think a young one.

I swing my camera up and take some shots. Then I walk closer. And closer.
At any moment, I expect it to fly off.
It stays sitting, completely unconcerned. I may have been able to get closer still, but I have managed to get some great shots and time is pressing. Also, I am growing tired and hungry. I walk on.

14 hangglider, Christchurch I am pleased to find a way down to the shore again.

As I am going down the path, a hang-glider soars over the top of the cliff above me. He is noiseless and I jump as I suddenly realise there is a huge shape just above me.

path closed, Christchurch, Hampshire, Ruth tries to walk around the coast. Sadly, the next stretch of coast I come to has been subjected to erosion. Warning signs tell me I can’t walk along the shore footpath. I climb up and walk along the top.

Later, I look down and realise I probably could have walked along the path, if I didn’t mind scrambling over a few fallen stones. There are people below me doing just that. And I have walked over much worse terrain.

path closed, Christchurch, Hampshire, Ruth tries to walk around the coast.After a while, the top path disappears too.

I cut through a private holiday estate, despite the signs telling me there is no through route. And I do find a way down to the beach. Luckily the beach gate to the holiday park is open and there is nobody to tell me off.

As I walk down to the beach, I see a cafe on the slope above me. I climb up there and have a nice cup of tea and a giant scone with cream and jam. (I know this is not a healthy lunch, but it did taste very good.) I notice the sign by the scones says ‘Dorset cream teas’.

Checking my map, I realise I have crossed over the county boundary, and I am now in Dorset. I feel I am nearly in the South-West. I am making progress!

Leaving the cafe, I make my way down to the sea. Here I find a newly constructed path, albeit rather wide and soulless, winding up and down and following the coastline.

beach, Christchurch, Ruth's coast walk, Hampshirebeach with jogger, Christchurch, Ruth's coast walk.This is a very pleasant area and I enjoy the next part of the walk. The cliff erosion has ensured there is no beach front development.

The weather stays fine and there are joggers on the beach and families with young children.

I am growing tired as I approach Christchurch. The tide is going out. Groynes stretch across the beach. The sun is sinking in the west and the light is golden and hazy.

Looking towards Christchurch, late afternoon, Ruth on her coastal walk.

I reach an area where there is a car park and a quay. Lobster pots are piled up. There is a pub with people sitting enjoying a drink in the evening sunshine. There is a great view over Christchurch Harbour.

I find the sign for the ferry that will take me across the mouth of the harbour and to Hengistbury Head on the other side. It is a very narrow stretch of water. The crossing will be a short one.

other side ferry, Christchurch, Hampshire, Ruth's walk

But that is tomorrow. Today, I have done enough walking.

Vital stats:
10 miles travelled by foot,
1 ferry crossing,
1 county boundary crossing.

About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
This entry was posted in 07 Hampshire, 08 Dorset and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to 69 (part 2). Hurst Castle to Christchurch

  1. David Cotton says:

    As usual, great photos and text, thanks. They bring back many memories, especially as I no longer live down that way.

    I’m looking forward to reading about next year’s campaign.

  2. babsandnancy says:

    We’ve just walked past here on our much slower amble round the coastline. You do take fantastic pictures and organise your blog very professionally and invitingly – I hope you don’t mind but I’ve definitely taken some handy hints from your layout and enjoyed reading of your progress immensely. At present we don’t have much time due to family and work commitments but we are loving it. We started just over a year ago at Beachy Head in Sussex and finished on the Sunday just gone on Studlands beach. It felt like a significant milestone as we were at last on the South West Coastal path. I did comment on one of your posts a while back and you said once we’d got our site up and running you would kindly place it as a link on your blog. It would be great if you could as we’re only just getting it together with organising the blog and it would be great to have a few people having a look. Our blog is called B&N’s Ridiculous Journey and can be found at: https://babsandnancy.wordpress.com/

  3. Pingback: December miles and a homecoming – iwalkalone.co.uk

  4. Karen White says:

    I am very envious of your wonderful kestrel photo – to get so close to a wild one, quite amazing!

    This is a lovely part of the coast, The beach I take my dogs to is the one below Steamer Point nature reserve (Friars Cliff beach / steamer point beach) It’s just after Highcliffe Castle which I assume you must have come past though maybe you were back on the beach by them.

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