Day 024: Eastoke to Portsmouth
Distance: 26.62 miles
Ascent: 543 feet
Weather: Mostly sunny, Some Clouds
Accommodation: Lady Hamilton, Portsmouth
I got up early and was slightly surprised that it was raining, as I hadn’t expected it to be. Luckily by the time I got out of the tent and packed it up the rain had stopped. I set of and then headed around the Sandy Point Nature Reserve. There were signs everywhere telling you not to enter the nature reserve as there were cattle grazing, I do not know how aggressive these cows are but the council were taking no chances. I took heed of these signs and went around the outside. When I caught sight of one of the cows scratching himself on the metal nature reserve sign, he was very photogenic but did not appear at all happy to see me. I was slightly glad to have a fence between him and I.
I then met up with Tom, who had heard about the walk and wanted to join for a short bit at the beginning of the day. He had worked in mental health in the UK and Australia. We headed of along the promenade at the south of Hayling Island, and halleluiah the sun was out. There was not much of note along the promenade and it felt fairly bleak, though maybe in summer with all the amusements, cafes and families running around it would seem more exciting.
We headed around the tip, from where I could see my end point of the day only 2 miles away, though I would have to walk more than 20 miles further to get there. After passing the location of the summer ferry the scenery got nicer, passing some lovely houseboats, before heading down to the foreshore, where interestingly as the tide was low we ended up walking under the private house jetties along the sand and shingle. I had actually due to chatting forgot to take a turning, but this had only a minor effect as we could rejoin the road a short distance later.
After 4.5 miles, Tom left to return to his car (he did very well to put up with my little NHS mental health rant), and I was of on my own again. The west coast of Hayling Island was easy going as the Hayling Billy Coastal Path was very flat and not overly muddy, and I was soon back at the Langstone Bridge, which I crossed.
The next part of the walk, was far more beautiful than I was expecting as it passed several nature reserves only broken up by a small switchback around a sewage works. Farlington Marshes in particular were really great; the sun was still shining, the vistas were beautiful and there was an abundance of wildlife. There were also a couple of very kitted up twitchers.
I crossed over to Portsea Island and courtesy of the Solent Way, barring a stop at Morrisons, I made quick process down the east side. Before turning onto the beach next to Fort Cumberland. This is a pentagonal artillery fort and was located here to protect the Royal Naval Docks in Portsmouth from being attacked from its eastern landward side.
I had known when I rescheduled this weeks routes at the rest day, that camping could be an issue today as there appeared to be no clear, acceptable place to camp. That is why unlike normal I put out a specific message yesterday, though unfortunately no one knew anyone in this area. I decided as I was approaching Southsea, that I would just continue walking until I found a pitch location as far as the Gosport Ferry if required
I passed the Royal Marine's Museum, South Parade Pier and continued along the promenade. Looking over to Isle of Wight it was clear there was a massive rainstorm heading very close to me, so I picked up the pace. Fortunately I only caught the very edge of this and had just a few raindrops hit me. I really enjoyed the next bit of the walk (though was a bit anxious about pitch site), and passed the Southsea Castle, before heading into actual Portsmouth.
In Portsmouth I passed the fishing fleet, and in the middle of this area there was a massive imposing grey building, which is the headquarters of the British America’s Cup team. If you haven’t seen footage of the America’s Cups boats racing, google it as the vessels essentially flying is an unbelievable spectacle.
I continued on around the Spinnaker Tower, and then somehow got trapped in Gunwharf Quays shopping center. I hate being in shopping centers at the best of times, but its even worse with a massive backpack on. I finally found the right exit, and had now reached the location of the Gosport Ferry.
As I had not found a pitch site, I headed into a cheap pub and asked about pitching a tent or a cheap room. They provided me with a very cheap room, and gave me a free dinner. So even though I wanted to camp tonight the room did not hit the budget much at all. I do not have any other areas flagged up for the whole walk where camping will be as much of an issue due to extended development as today.
The extension of several miles today, also meant the scheduled long day tomorrow was now more manageable and actually a couple of miles shorter than today.
So all in all a lovely day in the sun, great to walk with Tom in the morning and also good to get some significant mileage under my belt.