Coast Part 1 2007

Part One of what turned out to be a 6500 miles journey around the edge of mainland Britain. 

50° 55' 12" N, 1° 28' 42" W


It didn't start out too well!

I’d been looking for the 1:50,000 OS map that covers the top end of Southampton water for about a week with no luck. It and the one that covers Salisbury, are missing.  We have a TomTom and a road atlas however, and I know the area pretty well having commuted through Southampton to the Isle of Wight for a total of about 8 years, so no worries. After all this was only going to be a day trip or at most a single overnight stop so lets not get too worked up about a silly map!


I had given some thought to where to start and finish our coastal trip all around mainland Britain and it seemed logical to begin and end at the head of Southampton water.  I remembered a little place called Eling Tide Mill and so once the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix was over on Easter Sunday, 8th April 2007, we drove down to Totton and then Eling.  Got there no problem, but the tide was out, so there was only the damp patch where the coast had been.  There is a two ton weight and a width restriction across the Toll bridge at Eling so we thought with that and the lack of ‘coast’ perhaps its not the best place to start from!  As the A35 crosses the end of Southampton water I suggested we started from there instead, well that meant retracing our steps a bit, negotiating a diversion, as work on the Redbridge flyover had started, and taking our ‘starting photograph’ into the sun from a slip road.

The Tide Was Out - Eling Tide Mill Bridge


Official starting point!



As that photo didn't seem good enough to record the setting out point on our epic journey we commissioned a watercolour from fellow MHF subscriber 'Hampshireman' and here it is. It shows an impression of the view from the marshes and looks south towards the start.

Redbridge Marsh by Derek Snowden



The location was 50° 55' 12" N, 1° 28' 42" W, and so from there we set out for Marchwood on the west bank of Southampton Water.  A few minutes later we were back at Eling, thanks to the TomTom not understanding weight restrictions.  Anyway by ignoring Jane’s dulcet tones and using the sun to navigate by we eventually got to Marchwood, via Totton (twice!) and passing Eling Tide Mill from the other side on our way.


Before we both retired from Trinity House and they moved the Engineering Department to join the rest of Trinity in new buildings at Harwich, Marchwood was one of the sites that was looked at for the relocation of a combined Engineering and Operations set up.  If they had chosen Marchwood we would probably have stayed, and so wouldn’t have already enjoyed nearly two and a half years of active retirement.  For a few moments all the ‘what ifs’ went through our minds but memories of Antarctica, Galapagos and five weeks in Norway soon washed away the delights of paid employment.  So we gave a cheer that Marchwood wasn’t selected after all.


This first day of our coastal trip was going to be a day of 'firsts' and so 17 miles after we had started out from the head of Southampton water we had our first stop, had our first refreshment in the van (coffee and Easter egg), found our first new entry for the MHF campsite database, and paid our first parking charge.  We were at Calshot.  This is where Southampton water really becomes the Solent and is ‘proper’ coast. 

 Calshot car Park One of the 'Firsts'



Calshot Spit 


After ‘lunch’ we carried on, keeping to the mostly very minor roads that fringe the Solent and the Beaulieu river passing through Lepe, Exbury, Beaulieu and Sowley pond to Lymington arriving at the Lymington to Yarmouth ferry terminal. We only used that crossing for about six years on a twice weekly basis, but never approached the ferry terminal from this direction.  We dropped into some friends at Lymington (tea and chocolate cake) and handed over some pieces of hardwood for turning into lace bobbins.


After Lymington we left the A337 and got back the coast as soon as possible getting a good view of the Needles from Milford on Sea.  Here is where the Solent joins the English Channel and if it was ‘proper’ coast at Calshot its ‘really proper’ coast here! 



The Needles - View from the 'Proper Coast'


Getting views of the sea through Christchurch, Boscombe and Bournemouth entails detours off the main roads and at least once we had to do a three point turn in someone’s driveway but this way at least we visited places that we had bypassed before such as Barton on Sea, Mudeford, the coast road at Boscombe.  Having got to West Cliff in Bournemouth it should have been simple to get to Branksome Chine but yet again the geometry of Bournemouth confused me and I missed my turning twice (!) but eventually got down to the sea again at Sandbanks to cross the entrance to Poole Harbour by the chain bridge (“£3 less than 3,500Kg, £6 over 3500Kg - and campers” the notice says but I gave over the £3 and it was accepted).  On the Studland side there was a 2km queue waiting to use the ferry, glad we were going in the opposite direction.


Anyone repeating this trip should stop at Studland and walk to Old Harry Rocks and Ballard Down, but we have been there before, both by land and sea, so carried on to Swanage.  We didn’t stop in Swanage either, and therefore didn't visit the Durlston Head country park or walk to the lighthouse at Anvil Point (both recommended by us).  We stayed in the cottages at the lighthouse for a week once so for us there was no point (no Anvil Point either).


Leaving Swanage we drove on the B3069 through Langton Matravers and then off to Worth Matravers high above St Alban’s head.  Back on the B3069 you get a good view of Corfe castle from above, not the usual view tourists get of the Castle towering above them.  At Corfe Castle you are over 5km from the shore line at St Albans head but although we have strayed inland we have already been within 3km of that headland, and shortly after that we were parked up on the cliff edge at Kimmeridge, well after the parking charge kiosk had packed up for the day.  No overnight camping here, it says but one motor caravan had deployed wind turbine generator, satellite dish, windbreak and BBQ so in common with those that had pitched tents I guess they were ignoring that.


  Kimmeridge Bay


By now we had a decision to make. We wanted to do the range road this trip, which being Easter Sunday, was open.  It was 6pm we had to eat and if we were to continue tomorrow needed to find somewhere to camp. In the end we decided not to stay out and have to join the throng of returnees on Monday morning.  So we ate our pre-prepared curry at Kimmeridge and then left on the range road to Lulworth shortly after.  There is an interesting museum en route at Tyneham, that you can only visit when this range road is open, it shows village life before the tank ranges opened and the villagers were dispossessed. 


At Lulworth army camp we recorded a coastal mileage of 91 miles since Eling, and then we headed inland and back to Salisbury by way of Wool, Bere Regis and Blandford.  Our out and back mileage was 61 miles.  Our journey will start again at Lulworth, but before we can do that we have to fit in Denmark and Ireland.



Note the above google map fails to show the range road shortcut (between the last two circles on the blue route)


Link to Artist's Web Site

Link to part 2 Coast part 2a 2007