Day 93: English Coastal Path

D93: NETLEY to LEPE COUNTRY PARK

Thursday 20th April 2023

Today miles: 27.2 Total miles: 1558.8

Today was probably going to be the longest day of the entire week. I set off along the path at a leisurely pace, admiring some of the enormous houses built along Southampton Water. The route was temporarily diverted for around a hundred metres, by maintenance just before Netley Castle. After crossing the community football field I was quickly back onto the Solent Way. I was a little bit nervous as I approached Itchen Bridge. It appeared in the photos I’d seen to be sitting high above the water and often with these bridges it can be difficult to find your way onto the actual bridge by foot. I made my way through Woolston and it turned out to be unusually easy to locate the stairs leading up onto the road bridge. This bridge was constructed in the 1970s and is still collecting a toll from the thousands of drivers who cross it each day. Sadly, it also has a poor reputation for suicides with an average of five each year, hence the many ‘Samaritans’ placards located along its span. Having crossed the noisy bridge I arrived at the much quieter marina on the Southern tip of Southampton, close to the cruise liner terminal. I noticed a Wetherspoons pub (The Admiral Sir Lucius Curtis) nearby and although it was a bit early for a proper break, I couldn’t stop myself and dropped in for coffee (3 actually) and two bacon rolls.

Passing the cruise liner terminal was interesting with lots of smiling, excited people pulling their suitcases behind them. The ECP and Solent Way both cross the River Test at the Town Quay ferry terminal but I’m sticking to my rules and instead I’m walking along the busy, very busy verge of the A33. Can’t recommend this route, it is in keeping with my ECP rules but not safe or pleasant. Forty minutes later I arrived on the Eastern edge of Totton and found the pedestrian footpath onto Red Bridge was fenced off. I could have back tracked a little and continued along the A33 (no verge at this point) but instead I decided to walk the additional mile through Lower Test Nature Reserve and finally arrived in Totton. I crossed the old Toll bridge at Eling before stopping for another break close to the public toilets. I spent an hour here, relaxing on the grass and airing my feet. The next four miles towards Hythe were along a a National cycle route, where I was once again able to pick up the official ECP. I enjoyed walking through Hythe it’s a pretty, well maintained town and it’s justifiably very popular.

There’s a huge oil refinery after Hythe and a disused power station at Fawley but due to clever planners there’s a dense strip of woodland between the footpath and the refinery and I passed happily by without seeing and/or smelling any of the heavy industry. The last two miles towards Calshot were the prettiest of the entire day and the nice views were enough to encourage me to continue towards Lepe. I had always intended stopping at Calshot but I still felt good and decided to keep going. It’s only two miles to Lepe. There’s no obvious footpath across Stanswood Bay so I moved inland slightly along Stanswood Road and sadly lost the pretty views. I arrived on Lepe beach and chilled for a while in the sun, feeling tired but happy.

A long and satisfying day, made in good time. I was back at the caravan before 8pm enjoying several well deserved beers and a takeaway.

1 thought on “Day 93: English Coastal Path

  1. That’s quite a distance in one day James ! Wondering what your longest forced on the expedition has been so far ? 👍

    Like

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