Walk to Hurst Castle

22 July 2015

If you're after a walk where you can get the sea spray in your hair and the wind in your face, then this a perfect choice. The walk to Hurst Castle is a firm favourite of mine. From Milford-on-Sea, you walk the narrow length of Hurst Spit with the historic goal at the end of it. The Isle of Wight is a hop, skip and a jump away on the other side of the Solent, and you're graced with clear views of The Needles. On the other side is Keyhaven and Pennington saltmarshes.

Hurst Castle is actually a Tudor fort and is a real jewel of history in this part of Hampshire. It was commissioned by Henry VIII to keep the pesky French away from Southampton, so that just shows how much of a part of history it had to play. Even Charles I was imprisoned here at one point. To the side of it is Hurst Point Lighthouse which still works today. It has a sort of Greek ambiance about it I feel, and is quite beautiful from far off.

The fort itself is now owned by English Heritage and is available to visit for less than a fiver. I've been before so Max and I just walked around the perimeter of the fort and the end of the spit. Lots of the original ironworks where the canons and guns would have been is still intact and has been pretty much undisturbed over the years. I love how you can see how it's been weathered over the years and has actually dyed the stone the fort is built from.

Max was pretty intrigued too, as you can see below. He loves history.

On the other side of the fort, there's the beach where the spit ends and the boats move up the Solent towards Lymington and Southampton, and of course, the lighthouse. There's also a water taxi that can take you back to Keyhaven from this point if you don't want to walk the complete length of the spit back again. I must admit, it is tempting to sometimes hop on the water taxi back as walking on stone isn't the easiest, but I'd rather save my £3.50 for a nice post walk drink somewhere in a local cafe.

Here, Max is demonstrating where some of the huge guns would have been. Hurst Castle was fully operational in World War Two, and guns would have sat on some of these concrete points, acting as a defence to the Solent. No longer there, they do make a nice little perch for a picnic.

You can walk the disused tracks from the Solent all the way to the fort itself, where they would have transported items to take into the fort. There's a bit of history around every corner of Hurst Spit, and although the fort isn't overly pretty or at its best any more, it does hold a rather interesting beauty - partly to do with its location and partly to do with all the experiences it would have gone through.

The walk from the car park by Needles Cafe will probably take you 45 minutes there, and 45 minutes back. However, it's a lot nicer to amble along on this walk, take in the views, look at the wildlife on the saltmarsh and even take a look around Hurst Castle itself. Plus, the stones will slow your normal walking time down. 

Remember to wear decent shoes, and if you need a quick break, just take your pick of which part of the beach you want, sit, and watch the boats sailing around the Isle of Wight.

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