The Solent Way is a long-distance walk that explores the picturesque coastline and diverse countryside of Hampshire. Expect wildlife displays, breathtaking views, historic sites, port cities, pretty harbours, and golden beaches.
Starting from Hurst Point, the Way crosses coastal marshes to Lymington and heads inland through the New Forest to Hythe. You catch a ferry to Southampton and follow the shoreline before crossing the River Hamble on the Gosport Ferry to Portsmouth. The Way then heads through Southsea and the coastal marshlands of Langstone Harbour to Emsworth.
The official route is 60 miles (97 km). However, with a few detours to some worthy sites this Collection is 70 miles (113 km) in total. All detours are clearly marked.
For most of the hike, you are treated to fabulous views of the Isle of Wight and magnificent birdlife displays amid diverse coastal scenery. There are also plenty of interesting towns, villages, and cities to explore en route, with ‘catch of the day’ and plenty more to tempt you.
Highlights along the Way include: Hurst Castle, which was the most advanced artillery fortress in England when completed in 1544; Lymington Nature Reserve, a great bird-watching spot; Beaulieu Abbey, a breathtaking 13th-century ruin; Netley Abbey, the most complete surviving Cistercian monastery in southern England; HMS Warrior, Britain’s first armoured warship; Portsmouth Cathedral; Southsea Castle; as well as Farlington Marshes Nature Reserve and West Hayling Nature Reserve, both internationally-important habitat for birds.
In this Collection, I split the trail into five stages; 8.5 miles (13.7 km), 17 miles (27.4 km), 17.2 miles (27.7 km), 14.3 miles (23 km), and 12.5 miles (20.1 km). As stages 2 and 3 are considerably longer than the others, I have made suggestions on how you can split the hikes. Of course, you can divide the Collection into as many days as you are comfortable with or walk any single stage.
With minimal hills, the trail is level and leisurely throughout. Following waymarked paths and never straying too far from civilisation, the Solent Way is suitable for walkers of all abilities. There is a good choice of accommodation along the route. Although, as ever, scheduling in advance is recommended.
To get to the start of the trail, you can catch a train to New Milton station, and then catch the X1 bus service to Milford on Sea (for more information, visit: morebus.co.uk/services/SQ/X1). There is a train station at the end of the trail in Emsworth.
The first stage takes you from one of the mightiest forts in England and winds through a coastal landscape with magical sea views and abundant nature. Easing you into the …
You depart from the coastline on this stage to explore historic buildings, breathtaking ruins and wildlife-rich countryside.Upping the ante, Stage 2 is 17 miles (27.4 km) long with an …
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Stage 3 takes you on the oldest continuously-operating pier train in the world, through the historic city of Southampton, and visits the most complete Cistercian monastery in southern England. With 17.2 miles (27.7 km) of distance, this is another lengthy hike. However, with just 250 feet (76 m) of elevation gain, of which there are no hills of note, it is manageable. (For a suggestion on how to split the stage, read on).
Magnificent maritime history and glorious coastal views combine on this hike, which takes you through the heart of Portsmouth.The Way eases into its leisurely conclusion on this penultimate stage, which is 14.3 miles (23 km) long and is near level.To begin, you hike along Lee-on-the-Solent Beach to Browndown Point, where you find Browndown Battery, a former military coastal fort that was built in the 1840s.
Expect breathtaking displays of nature and charismatic coastal towns on the final stage of the Solent Way.If you follow the official route to Emsworth, the finale is 8.5 miles (13.7 km) long. However, with worthy detours to Hayling Island and the town of Havant, this stage is 12.5 miles (20.1 km) long. The walking is entirely level throughout, too.