Day 026: Southampton to Lymington
Distance: 28.39 miles
Ascent: 1101 feet
Weather: Windy and Rainy Most of the day, Dry late Afternoon
Accommodation: The Bosun's Chair, Lymington (kindly Complimentary)
Luckily yesterday evening I checked the Hythe ferry timings, because as today was a Saturday the first ferry only leaves at 8:30. This was a bit of an inconvenience as today was meant to be a long day and I would have preferred start earlier. Anyway, as per yesterday catching the ferry felt like a little daytrip and surprisingly on the Hythe side there was a little train that carries you from the boat along the pier to the land, which was very quaint and oldschool
From Hythe I continued on the Solent Way which detours inland around all the refineries and down to Calshot. It must be 20 years since I was last in Calshot for a school trip. It is one of my most vivid school time memories. The couple of days we spent here when I must have been about 9 or 10, were brilliant. We climbed, went on a trawler, archery, team games to name just a few all whilst next to the beach. It is strange how some memories stick with you so affectionately. Calshot appears to have even more now with a velodrome and indoor ski slope as well, though as an adult on a windy, wet, wintry day the magic wasn’t quite the same.
From Calshot I followed the coast directly to Lepe Country Path. There was a sign above the high-water mark saying no access as private (a very common sign on beaches), but I went ahead anyway as it was low tide and went with the premise that no private owner can own below the high tide mark. Having just googled though this may actually be one of the very rare (maybe only large) location where someone does actually own the whole beach low tide as well, as it was decided by a judge in the 30’s and has now become a nature reserve. I feel a little bad but did not disturb anything, and it appears the new English Coast Path will possibly follow the beach anyway.
When I hit Lepe Country Path the winds became very strong, the rain was heavy and it was one of those moments to just drop the head and push on. Fortunately I had to head inland (normally this would be a negative) via Exbury to Beaulieu, which protected me from the wind and being under the trees protected me a certain amount from the rain. The only issue being there was no path so had to follow the road which had some very fast cars on it.
Beaulieu is a lovely scenic place, and on arrival some cows must have got out of there field as they were doing there best to stop any cars (as well as me) getting into or out of Beaulieu. I decided to head into a café to get a tea just to get a short respite from the rain. As I was sat there 4 donkeys wandered passed on the pavement, looking very sorry for themselves in the rain.
From Beaulieu the Solent Way heads down to Buckler’s Hard. This is a very historical village, originally it was a free port for sugar, though took off as a naval ship building centre building many ships for Nelson including 3 that took part in the battle of Trafalgar.
The next part of the walk was interesting for a different reason, my friend Jake had decided to come down from London and was getting a train to Lymington where he was going to run towards me, before walking back to Lymington. So the path which followed lanes mainly became more interesting as I expected to see him around every corner. About 4 - 5 miles from the end we bumped into each other. It was great to see a friendly face, and I had expected I would not finish till about 6pm when it was dark, so was nice to have someone to walk with on this bit. In fact with the mist and impending darkness it was very mystical and a lovely part of the day.
The one issue was that I was walking to Lymington half to catch up, half because thought should walk the whole way with Jake, without a pitch site or accommodation. I do not know why I was so calm about this (I normally hate not having everything planned exactly.) I had just decided that what was the worst that could happen in Lymington and I could find a pitch or other option once there.
Jake and I arrived in Lymington just before 6:30 whilst it was dark and headed to The Bosun’s Arms the closest pub to the station. We got dinner which Jake kindly paid for, and then the owner of The Bosun’s Chair very kindly offered a complimentary room for the night. They are doing the building up at present, but even though it is not quite finished my room is already looking very nice, and the building is in a great location not just for my walk but also for exploring Lymington. On top of this they have gone above and beyond preparing me breakfast to take in the morning.
A long, tiring day due to the distance and weather, but also very successful (and mostly enjoyable) and I am now back on schedule. It was also great to have Jake join for the dark misty approach to Lymington.