Saturday, 18 January 2020

Portsmouth to Farlington Marshes (Solent Way 7)

HMS Warrior

We started this latest leg of the Solent Way near to the arrival point of the Gosport Ferry. The first main sight was HMS Warrior which was launched in 1860 and was Britain's first iron-hulled, armoured warship.

We diverted slightly from the official route to pass under the railway and reach the Outlet Centre on the other side. This seemed to be swarming with shoppers in search of a bargain and has presumably been a very good innovation. Our real goal of course was to get a close up view of the dramatic 170m high Spinnaker, opened in 2005.

We looped round to go through the Landport Gate ...

... and follow the outside wall of the dockyard. We turned into Broad St and were delighted with this arch, with its painted capitals and precise location recorded in the arch.

Walking along Broad Street we were struck by this modern building over on the right. It seems to have been designed to resemble a ship. It is a very reasonable idea for a city like Portsmouth, but we thought it was rather clumsily executed.

At the end an excellent view point towards Gosport. Fort Blockhouse was directly opposite and Fort Gilkicker, which we passed on the previous leg, can be made out on the extreme left.

We headed through the Round and Square Towers and headed along a splendid walkway with a glimpse of the Cathedral off to the left.

This was the view back. We were surprised to discover that amidst all these defences there was also a beach.

At the end there was a fine view, with the ruined Royal Garrison church (destroyed by a wartime bomb) on the right and a statue of Nelson on the left. The building in the centre looked worth a look too.

We now walked along beside another part of the city's defenses, the Long Curtain, a defensive rampart with a moat outside it. At the end the projecting part is the Spur Redoubt which was built in about 1680.

We continued along the Millenium Path towards Southsea passing the Clarence Pier with typical seaside amusements and fast food. Shortly after this we saw a hovercraft crossing from the Isle of Wight. We thought the hovercraft was a defunct form of transport - and we were almost right, this is apparently the last one operating in the world.

Soon it zipped across the Solent at an impressive speed. Long may it continue!

A little further on was the art deco War Memorial which we admired on our one earlier walk around Portsmouth in 2012.

We approached Southsea Castle, which was a bit of a surprise. It turned out not to be very grand, but it was one of the chain of castles built by Henry VIII in the 1540s to defend against the threat from Spain. Other examples can be found at Brownsea Island and the Isle of Portland,

Just past the castle there was a fine view of Southsea's South Parade Pier. It was opened in 1879 and fully restored in 2017. When we reached the pier we felt we just had to have an ice cream.

We followed the path along the back of the beach, which became gradually more covered with vegetation, until we reached Eastney. Here we cut inland through Milton to re-emerge on the east side of Portsea Island. We followed the path along the west side of the shallow Langstone Harbour. I just had to take a photo of this lone boat, wonderfully named El barco (The boat, of course).

Just before the path comes close to the busy dual carriageway (i.e. very noisy) A2030 we found the intriguing people's war memorial. You can find out more about it here.

The final section up to the car park at the corner of Farlington Marshes was not too thrilling. In truth, Langstone Harbour is shallow, muddy and pretty featureless.

Conditions: a lovely sunny day, but eventually quite cool

Map: Explorer 119 Meon Valley, Portsmouth, Gosport & Fareham.

Distance: about 7.5 miles.

Rating: 4 stars. Lots of interest in Portsmouth, but less rewarding after Southsea Pier, i.e. the great majority of the walk.

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