Keyhaven - Hurst Castle
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Hurst Castle has guarded the western approach to the Solent since Tudor times. It is one of a chain of castles and forts built to protect the port of Southampton and the naval base at Portsmouth Harbour. The Tudor castle was first garrisoned in 1542, during the reign of King Henry VIII. It was modernised during the Napoleonic wars and strengthened by the addition of massive east and west wings during the mid-nineteenth century. Garrisons were stationed at the castle during both world wars. It remained part of Britain's coastal artillery defences until 1956.
This walk follows the Solent Way from Keyhaven. It overlooks a nature reserve where salt marshes and mudflats provide habitat for a variety of wildlife, including internationally important populations of ducks and geese. A noteworthy feature is the long, narrow shingle spit that connects Hurst Castle to the mainland. It curves out into the Solent to reach the castle, which is little more than a kilometre away from the Isle of Wight as the crow flies (beware of strong currents). There are several suggested itineraries for visitors to Hurst Castle. The castle walls and the roof of the central tower afford excellent views. Refreshments are available from a small café inside the castle grounds.
There is a lighthouse outside the castle, together with a second, shorter lighthouse built on the rear wall of the west wing. They are called the High Light and the Low Light respectively. Only the High Light remains in service. It includes red, green and white directional lights that mark the deepwater channel between the Needles and the Shingles Bank.
For added variety, try combining the walk to Hurst Castle with a return journey by boat. There are also cruises from Keyhaven to Yarmouth Harbour on the Isle of Wight and an afternoon Needles Cruise.
England - South England - Hampshire - Coast
Birds, Cafe, Castle, Great Views, Mostly Flat, Pub, Public Transport, Sea, Toilets
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Pubs, cafes and restaurants