England Coast Path takes a step forward in Hampshire.

  • The nearly 52 mile continuous walking route takes you from Calshot to Portsmouth via Gosport.
  • The Calshot to Gosport section and the Gosport to Portsmouth section are the first complete sections of the England Coast Path in Hampshire to open.
  • These new sections, 21 and 22 to be opened, will form part of England’s 2,700-mile Coastal Path, which will become the longest walking route in the world.

Summer has arrived and there is a new trail for Hampshire residents and visitors. The new sections of the England Coast Path will help connect people with nature and provide a wealth of health and wellness opportunities.

This easy-to-follow walking route along the Solent coast, with its unspoilt countryside, bustling marinas, industrial heritage, historic castles and wildlife conservation sites. Was opened by Natural England today.

This route will eventually help connect the entire coastline of the country into one long national trail. The walk will take people through some of the most beautiful scenery in England. As well as the many coastal towns, cities and ports that have shaped this island nation.

Excitingly for the first time in the history of public access, legal rights of public access will be guaranteed to typical coastal lands. This includes beaches, dunes and cliffs, allowing walkers access to places they have never been before.

Allison Potts, Regional Manager for Natural England, said:

This new course covers a multitude of unique environments. It includes unspoilt countryside with its abundance of wildlife. The industrial and bustling maritime Solent and next to one of the most densely populated areas of the south coast of England.

At a time when the benefits of connecting with nature are clearer than ever. It is fabulous that we are opening this walking route of nearly 82 km on the banks of the Solent to the public.

From Calshot to Gosport

This route starts at Calshot Spit, a popular beach and watersports location. It is also a natural shelter for Calshot Nature Reserve where birds such as oystercatchers and ringed plovers can be seen.

Heading northwest towards Hythe you have views of the area’s industrial heritage – the disused Fawley Power Station and Fawley Oil Refinery. Once on Hythe Waterfront, a short hop on the Hythe Ferry will take you to Southampton Town Quay, a busy international port with many historic sites.

Once you have crossed the River Itchen, you continue the drive through Woolston and Netley, where you can spot a 16th century castle and the ruins of the 13th century abbey. You then pass the Royal Victoria Country Park, once home to the largest military hospital in the Victorian Empire and a popular tourist attraction.

Continuing to Hamble-le-Rice and through Hamble Common there are more sites of historical and archaeological interest. There are remnants of 16th century St Andrews Castle, a 19th century gun battery and a Second World War anti-aircraft gun emplacement.

A short ride on the Hamble-Warsash Ferry (also known as the “Pink Ferry”) takes you across the River Hamble. Then along the shore through the Hook-with-Warsash Local Nature Reserve. Many species of wading birds and wild birds can be spotted here, including turnstones, linnets and larks. In the pebbles you can also see plant species such as sea kale, sea beet and yellow thorn poppy.

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The last part of the stretch takes you along the clifftop coastal path to Meon Shore and Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve. Then to the shore at Lee-on-the-Solent.

Gosport to Portsmouth

From Lee-on-the-Solent you drive through Stokes Bay and inland around the Browndown military training area before heading to Gilkicker Point. This area includes the Browndown Site of Scientific Special Interest (SSSI) and the Gilkicker Lagoon SSSI. Although the salinity of the lagoons creates a hostile environment where species must adapt to survive, 5 species of molluscs of national rarity live in the lagoons.

The route then heads inland around Fort Monckton and back up the coast around Clayhall before reaching the Gosport Ferry. You pass the perimeter of the historic Royal Clarence Yard and the Royal Naval Hospital. Then continue over Millennium Bridge, past Gosport Waterfront and then Fareham, past the marina and stream.

The path continues around the headland overlooking Pewit Island Nature Reserve, where the whole of Portsmouth Harbor and its iconic Spinnaker Tower can be seen. These impressive sights continue to Portchester Castle.

You cross the marina of Port Solent and eventually follow the breakwater by taking the pilgrims’ path with a view of the island of whales. Home of HMS Excellent, the Royal Navy’s oldest shore-based training establishment, and its headquarters. The route continues past the Continental ferry port and next to HMS Nelson.

As you approach Portsmouth, you’ll pass the historic dockyard, home to HMS Victory, HMS Warrior and the Mary Rose Museum. Next, cross Gunwharf Quays, a bustling waterside shopping and dining spot. The route passes by the impressive site of the Round Tower at the mouth of the harbour. Originally commissioned to be built in wood by Henry V in 1418, the tower was rebuilt in stone by Henry VIII. The route ends in historic old Portsmouth which is home to a small fishing fleet and a fish market at Camber Quays.

Councilor Russell Oppenheimer, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member of Recreation, Heritage and Rural Affairs, said:

The completion of this stretch of the England Coast Path is truly great news for local residents and visitors to the area.

It will provide easier access to Hampshire’s spectacular and diverse coastline, helping to connect people with nature.

We are delighted that for the first time it provides an unbroken link between a number of fantastic outdoor attractions run by the county council. Including Royal Victoria Country Park, Calshot and Hook with Warsash Nature Reserve.

Councilor Lisa Mitchell, Cabinet Member for Housing and Green Environment at Southampton City Council, said:

We are honored to be part of this national quest to make England’s coastline more accessible.

Southampton offers a fantastic mix of coast, green space and city center which is why we are very proud to be part of the national England Coast Path project.

We look forward to welcoming more people to enjoy the journey and explore Southampton at the same time.

Councilor Lynne Stagg, Cabinet Member for Traffic and Transport at Portsmouth City Council, said:

We fully support this great way to encourage more people to explore our coastline on foot, and we welcome the new walkers it will bring to our city.

Portsmouth is a fantastic city to wander around or explore however you can, with streets steeped in history and surprises around every corner. It’s also mostly flat so good for people of all skill levels.

Professor Gavin Parker, chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority, said:

We are pleased to have played a part in establishing this historic route along the exceptional New Forest coastline.

In particular by ensuring that National Park signs are all made with sustainably harvested New Forest oak and installed by local contractors.

A big thank you to the landowners and other stakeholders who helped make this goal a reality.

More information

You can find images for sections of the stretch here. Please credit Natural England.

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The nearly 52 mile (83.5 kilometer) route will form part of the England Coast Path. The 2,700 mile long distance walking route and England’s newest National Trail is currently being developed across the English coast by Natural England.

Our proposals for the Calshot to Gosport section (23.3 miles / 37.5 kilometres) were submitted to the government in November 2019 and approved in November 2021.

Our proposals for the Gosport to Portsmouth section (28.69 miles / 46.7 kilometres) were submitted to the government in June 2019 and approved in March 2022.

Natural England worked on the 2 sections, which form a continuous walking route, with a wide range of partners and landowners. The Calshot to Gosport section: New Forest National Park Authority (NFNPA), Hampshire County Council and Southampton City Council. The Gosport to Portsmouth section: Hampshire County Council and Portsmouth City Council.

The route is easily accessible by public transport and there are many places along the trail for refreshments and accommodation.

The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 requires the Secretary of State and Natural England to secure a long distance footpath around the open coast of England. This is in addition to public access rights to more land along the way for people to enjoy.

Natural England is working on the entire coastal route. See the map showing the work schedule.

In addition to the new sections of trail, improvements have been made to the existing access along the shoreline which:

  • identify a clear and continuous marked walking route along this part of the coast. Bringing certain sections of the existing coastal path closer to the sea and connecting certain places for the first time.

  • allow the route to “backtrack” if the coastline erodes, shifts or slides, solving long-standing difficulties with maintaining a continuous route along the coast.

See more information and www.nationaltrail.co.uk.

The recently updated CountrysideCode is the official guide on how to enjoy nature and treat it with respect and the people who live and work there.

Find out more about this section of the England Coast Path and Natural England on our social media: twitter.com/naturalengland

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