Warsash to Lee-on-the-Solent
This walk is very rural in nature, starting from the town of Warsash on the banks of the river Hamble. From Warsash the path is soon quiet, passing a spit of land, popular with fisherman, then round the coast, with marshland inland and sea to your right, passing a caravan site. Beyond the caravan site the coast has cliffs, unusual for this part of the country, with the path following the cliff top round to Hillhead with it's small beach and harbour, then on into the larger town of Lee-on-the-Solent.
Getting to the Start
Warsash is on the coast to the South West of Fareham. From the east or the A3, exit the M27 at junction 9 and join the A3051. At the roundabout turn right onto the A27. Continue on the A27 until the roundabout, turning left into Brook Lane. Continue down Brook Lane until you get to the roundabout by the clock tower in the town centre. Here, turn right into Shore Road where you'll soon see a sign warning of a One Way System ahead. Just before this starts the entrance to the car park is straight on (free parking), where there is also a toilet. From the west, exit the M27 at junction 8 and join the A3024. At the next junction, take the first exit onto the A27 and continue on the A27 over the river Hamble, then look out for the right turn to Warsash (signed), into Barnes Lane. This road comes into Brook Lane, then as above.
By public transport, First Provincial operate frequent buses from Fareham (Bus and Rail Station) to Warsash on a variety of routes, with buses typically running at least every 30 minutes Monday - Saturday and hourly on Sunday. Local buses also operate to Warsash frequently from Portsmouuth, Gosport, Lee-on-the-Solent, Stubbington, Southampton, Cosahm and Portchester. From Fareham station (where the buses to Warsash stop), South West Trains operate frequent trains from London (Waterloo), Woking, Basingstoke, Winchester, Eastleigh, Southampton, Portsmouth and Brighton to Fareham, as well as occasional services from Reading. They also operate local services from Eastleigh to Fareham and from Southampton and Portsmouth to Fareham. Wessex Trains also operate an hourly service from Fareham to Portsmouth, Southampton, Romsey, Salisbury, Bath, Bristol and Cardiff. Finally Southern operate an hourly service from Fareham to Southampton, Havant, Chichester, Worthing and Brighton. Warsash is also served by a frequent ferry service from Hamble-le-Rice.
The Solent Way in Warsash begins from the end of the pier for the Hamble Ferry. Looking to the north here you have lovely views over the peaceful River Hamble and the mariners in Hamble-le-Rice are visible across the river.
|The River Hamble at Warsash
|Hamble-le-Rice from Warsash
The river side path goes past several jetties and a mariner as it heads back towards the coast, soon passing a particularly large pier with an unusual low light house with black and white stripes rather than the usual red and white. To the south the small and undeveloped bay is a pleasing scene.
|A light house at Warsash
|Looking south from Warsash
Beyond the pier there are wetlands and marsh lands to the left, a haven for wildlife. Soon the path turns a to the left heading towards a narrow spit of land at the mouth of the river, much like the one on which Hurst Castle stands earlier on the path, although in this case much smaller and popular with fisherman. Beyond can be seen the oil works at Hamble, with the pier stretching out into the sea.
|The path near Warsash
|The spit of land and works at Hamble beyond
As you get closer it's obvious just how narrow and low this spit of land is - it looks as if it would be washed over on a high tide. The beach shows what appear to be the remains of some coastal defences here, but there is little left of it now, with the sea splashing against the stone. Looking back you can see the last few houses of Warsash now behind, and across the estuary the towers of Fawley Refinery.
|The spit of land near Warsash
|Looking back to Warsash
Soon you pass the spit of land and turn back onto the coast, with Calshot, at the end of the opposite bank of Southampton Water, now looking quite distant. The path now has wetlands to the left, a haven for birds, and runs along the back of the shingle beach, with the path being a mixture of grass and shingle next to the sea with the Isle of Wight visible once more.
|Wetlands near Warsash
|The Solent Way along the coast
This enjoyable section of the path lasts for about a mile where you see a path going off to the left and a small fence across the path ahead (there is also sadly a lot of litter washed up). Here there are very small cliffs, next to an equally small beach - the coast is obviously eroding quite a lot here. The path does in fact continue straight on, passing through the fence onto the well-worn path. Care should be taken on this path, as in places it has almost worn into the sea, as you can see below.
|The eroding coast ahead
|View across to Calshot
|The badly eroded path
Soon the path comes to a small road, which you have to turn left onto away from the coast. The map does show the path continuing along the coast past the caravan site, but I assume the path has eroded away, as there is no sign of it now and the signs direct you up the road (Workmans Lane). When you get to a junction, turn right (Chilling Lane), then follow the road into the caravan site. I then followed the signs through the site to the beach and slipway to re-join the path along the coast. At the end of the site the path climbs onto the small sandstone cliffs, giving lovely views around the coast.
|Solent Breezes Caravan Park
The pleasant coastal footpath continues past some large inlets caused by the erosion of the sea and past some old war-time buildings on the coast, now crumbling away. Soon you see views of the cliffs in the large bay ahead, with the first buildings of Hillhead beyond and the stream from Bromwich Pond flowing out to the sea. Here the path descends to cross the stream on a wooden bridge then climbs back onto the cliff tops.
|The bay ahead
|The stream crossing the beach
The path now continue along the cliff top for the next 3/4 of a mile or so descending down to a row of luxury beach huts on the edge of Hillhead where there is a private beach, so the path goes behind them here.
|Luxury beach huts at Hillhead
Beyond the beach huts the path rejoins the road past Titchfield Haven on your left and round the concrete harbour wall next to the car park. This low path crosses the bridge and rounds the harbour, with views to the pleasant beach beyond.
|The beach at Hillhead
Beyond the harbour the path is on concrete at the back of the beach in front of the row of green wooden beach huts with the shingle and sand beach to the right, a tranquil and peaceful spot in the autumn, but no doubt busy in the summer.
|Beach huts at Hillhead
|Beach huts at Hillhead
Beyond the row of beach huts the path does briefly climb up onto the road for a short while before it returns back to the beach at another car park. From here on the path follows the tarmac promenade all the way into the town of Lee-on-the-Solent. As you come into the town on the left there is a large slipway with a Hovercraft behind a fence, the site for the planned Hovercraft museum. The beach in the town is mostly shingle, with small amounts of sand and sadly the town is not the most attractive with mostly fairly modern buildings lining the sea front. The town centre is reached by climbing up to the road by the arcade where there is a car park and toilets and the parade of shops. Buses depart from the stop at the back of the car park.
|A hovercraft at Lee-on-the-Solent
First Provincial service 72 runs hourly (once every two hours on Sundays) back to Warsash (clock tower), taking around 30 minutes. This bus starts from Gosport and also serves Stubbington, Titchfield, Warsash and continues on to Southampton. Frequent buses also operate from Lee-on-the-Solent to Fareham (including the rail station). A ferry connection is available from Gosport to Portsmouth Harbour station.
The following web sites provide information on the area.
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