Hampshire Walk – March 2018

Head south for a wander alongside the picturesque River Hamble.

Following the riverside path upstream
Following the riverside path upstream

Our walk this month 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.

Views across the River Hamble
Views across the River Hamble

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.

The waterfront at Hamble-le-Rice
The waterfront at Hamble-le-Rice

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.

Take a short ride across the River Hamble on the brightly painted ferry
Take a short ride across the River Hamble on the brightly painted ferry

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 (www.hambleferry.co.uk).

Footbridge opposite Downkiln Copse on the way back to Lower Swanwick
Footbridge opposite Downkiln Copse on the way back to Lower Swanwick

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; published in Hampshire Life magazine, March 2018.