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Calshot spit

The newest stretch of the England Coast Path – from Calshot to Portsmouth – officially opened on 3 August 2022.

The 52 mile walking route will form part of the 2,700 mile England Coast Path, which will become the longest walking route in the world.

Ranger Natalie worked alongside Natural England to put signs along the path to help walkers to be bird aware.

Each sign tells people a little about the wildlife they might see at each spot and – very importantly – what to do to protect wildlife. The signs encourage walkers to help birds thrive by looking out for birds and keeping dogs alongside.

England Coast Path signs

If you want to challenge yourself and walk end to end, here’s Natural England’s guide to what you might see:

This section of the England Coast Path starts at Calshot Spit where birds like oystercatchers and ringed plover can be seen, and then heads northwest towards Hythe, with views of the decommissioned Fawley Power Station and the Fawley Oil Refinery. Once at Hythe waterfront, a short hop on the Hythe Ferry takes walkers across to Southampton Town Quay, the busy international port with many historic sites.

Once across the River Itchen, the route carries on through Woolston and Netley, where walkers can catch a glimpse the 16th century castle and ruins of the 13th century Abbey and then then pass the Royal Victoria Country Park, which was once the home of the biggest military hospital in the Victorian Empire.

The path continues on to Hamble-le-Rice and through Hamble Common, where there are more sites of historical and archaeological interest. There are remains of the 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 walkers across the River Hamble. Then along the shore through the Hook-with-Warsash Local Nature Reserve. Many species of wading birds and wildfowl can be spotted here, including ringed plover, oystercatcher and wigeon. In the shingle there are plant species such as sea kale, sea beet and yellow horned poppy.

The path continues along the clifftop coast path to Meon Shore and Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve, then down to the shoreline at Lee-on-the-Solent. From here, the walk passes through Stokes Bay, and inland around 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 lagoons saltiness creates a harsh environment where species have to adapt to survive, 5 species of mollusc of national rarity live in the lagoons.

Gilkicker sign

The route then heads inland around Fort Monckton and back to the coast around Clayhall before reaching the Gosport Ferry, passing the perimeter of the historic Royal Clarence Yard and Royal Naval Hospital, then carrying on over Millennium Bridge, past Gosport Waterfront then on to Fareham, passing the marina and creek.

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

The route passes through Port Solent Marina and eventually follows the seawall using the Pilgrims’ trail with views of Whale Island. It then continues past the Continental Ferry Port and beside HMS Nelson.

Approaching Portsmouth, the walk passes by the Historic Dockyard, home to HMS Victory, HMS Warrior and the Mary Rose Museum. Then through Gunwharf Quays, the waterside shopping and dining location. The route passes the impressive Round Tower site at the mouth of the Harbour. Originally ordered to be built in wood by Henry V in 1418, the tower was rebuilt in stone by Henry VIII.

Finally the route concludes at the Historic Old Portsmouth home to a small fishing fleet and fish market at Camber docks.