Hampshire walk along the River Hamble

Footbridge opposite Downkiln Copse on the way back to Lower Swanwick © Steve Davison

Footbridge opposite Downkiln Copse on the way back to Lower Swanwick © Steve Davison - Credit: Steve Davison

Steve Davison heads out along the River Hamble, visiting Lower Swanwick, Bursledon and Hamble-le-Rice

This walk starts at Swanwick Shore Road in Lower Swanwick where there are a number of interesting buildings including the 18th-century red-brick Hard Cottage and a row of cottages built to house shipyard workers during the Napoleonic Wars.

After crossing the river we head through Bursledon, passing St Leonard’s Church which dates back to the 12th century, before a short detour leads to the ideally located Jolly Sailor pub. If it looks vaguely familiar, the pub, and nearby Elephant Boatyard, were used as filming locations for the 1980s BBC TV series Howards’ Way. The boatyard is named after the 74-gun HMS Elephant, Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801, which was built here in the late 18th-century by George Parsons.

Another famous 18th-century shipbuilder around here was Philemon Ewer, who was responsible for building a number of warships including the 60-gun HMS Anson in 1747. There is an interesting memorial to Ewer inside St Leonard’s Church.

We continue south, soon following part of the Hamble Rail Trail which follows a disused railway that was built towards the end of WWI. The open land to the east and north of the rail trail was the site of one of Hamble’s airfields, known as Hamble North. The site, which opened in 1926, was primarily used for flyer training and the repair and modification of aircraft during WWII, including a large number of Spitfires.

We then meander through Hamble-le-Rice, passing the medieval St Andrew’s Church which was originally a small 12th century Benedictine Priory, to arrive at the picturesque quayside. Here, take a short ferry trip to the opposite side; there’s been a ferry operating hereabouts for over 500 years; £1.50 per person).

Once across the river we head upstream for a couple of miles, with ever changing views of the boats on the river and its abundant wildlife to arrive back at the start; be sure to take your binoculars.

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• Distance: 6 miles (9.5km)

• Time: 3 hours without stops

• Start: Car park on Swanwick Shore Road at Lower Swanwick (SU495092), just off the A27 (rail users could start from Bursledon or Hamble stations)

• Terrain: Fairly level, tracks and paths, no stiles, sections of road and pavement

• Map: OS Explorer OL22

• Refreshments: Several choices on the walk

The walk

1 (SU495092) – Turn left along Swanwick Shore Road to a T-junction and turn left following the pavement alongside the A27 for quarter of a mile, crossing the bridge over the river. Immediately after passing under the railway bridge turn left along Church Lane. Keep right at the junction and just before the next junction take a narrow path on the left, then continue along the lane to the right-hand bend; ahead is St Leonard’s Church. Take the enclosed path on the left, passing to the left of the church. Go through a gate and continue up the lane to a split; 150m along the left fork is The Jolly Sailor pub. We take the right fork and then turn right at the T-junction following the High Street for 300m (to the left leads to the Jolly Sailor).

2 (SU485093) – At the next junction fork left and then left again, still following the High Street through Bursledon, passing The Vine Inn. Ignore Salterns Lane on the left and at the right-hand bend, fork left along a narrow waymarked path. Keep ahead along the lane and at the right-hand bend fork left along the narrow path. Follow the track into the wood (Mallards Moor) as it swings left to a junction. Turn right to leave the trees and head west to join Hamble Lane (B3397). Turn left along the pavement for half a mile, passing a roundabout, then keeping ahead to cross Satchell Lane.

3 (SU473081) – Some 60m after crossing the railway, cross the road and double-back along the tarred path. Just before the railway station turn left along the path (railway on your right) for 120m to reach a path junction. Turn sharp left; the walk now follows the Hamble Rail Trail for three quarters of a mile. Keep ahead over the access road; later cross the B3397. Continue along the trail crossing another access track; later go through a gate to join a road. Turn right for 25m and then left along the tarred path for 120m. Turn left along Barton Drive, cross diagonally right over Spitfire Way and follow the tarred path – Woodpecker Walk – ahead for 250m. Turn right along Hamble House Gardens to a junction with the High Street, with St Andrew’s Church opposite. Turn left to reach The Square in Hamble-le-Rice.

4 (SU483068) – Keep right and follow the cobbled street to arrive at a bend beside the river; passing the Victory pub and the King and Queen. Just before the car park turn left and follow the Solent Way alongside the water. Take the ferry across to the opposite bank and turn left along the gravel path with the river on your left. Keep to the waterside path for two miles, following the waymarked route through the boatyard on the way. On joining a lane (Swanwick Shore Road) at a bend in Lower Swanwick, keep ahead back to the car park.


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