Hill Head is a village just South of Stubbington and Fareham located on the Solent coastline. An ideal place to pick up the coastal Solent Way path that spans 60 miles of the Hampshire coastline between Milford-on-Sea and Emsworth, via Lymington, Southampton and Portsmouth.
This walk starts from The Osborne View pub, always a great place to start, end or both!
We took a stroll down the hill to the coastal path (part of the Solent Way) that runs behind the Pub garden. You can either walk along the upper concrete path or if the tide is out and you have some wellies, take a paddle along the foreshore!
The views from this beach across the Solent to The Isle of Wight on a lovely clear day are fantastic. In fact The Osborne View is so called because directly opposite on the Wight coast is the former residence of Queen Victoria, Osborne House.
Soon you will reach some colourful Beach Huts and here there are some more steps that lead down on to the beach. The tide does go out fairly far at this point and keep your eyes peeled for some fabulous Oyster shells. It is no surprise this little corner of the shore is popular with wading birds such as Oystercatcher and on the day we took this walk a small flock of Ringed Plover.
If you are a photographer, this area is an amazing location for so many reasons and especially during the Autumn and Winter months when the sun is lower in the sky, it casts a beautiful light across the landscape. The sun sets just over the Isle of Wight in the month of November which makes it the perfect sunset location. The lines in the sand lending themselves very nicely as lead-in lines for any photographer’s compositional creativity.
As you pass the Beach Huts you reach the harbour at Meon Shore and Titchfield. Not far beyond the Yacht Club (where you can learn to sail), you reach Titchfield Nature Reserve and the excellent Cafe, shop and reserve offices run by Hampshire County Council.
The Nature Reserve is worth visiting and spending a decent length of time at because it is fairly big with two sides to explore. I have been there numerous times and depending on the time of year you visit, you can see quite a large number of birds from one of the hides or more often than not just the network of paths that weave through it. If you visit their site, you can see a list of recent sightings. To give you an example, I’ve seen Avocet, Spoonbill, Marsh Harrier, Kingfisher, Stonechat, Teal, Widgeon, Shelduck and many other species on previous visits to the reserve. The Scrapes get very busy in the Summer with nesting birds and the sound is something else!
Keep on following the path which is mostly concrete/tarmac along the sea wall with the marshes to your right and the sea on your left. You soon reach a large expanse of beach that you can follow towards Warsash and the mouth of the River Hamble further ahead.
If you prefer you can also follow a path along the cliff top, obviously depending on the tide and weather conditions, it may on some days be your only choice, not to mention a safer bet.
It’s here where I shall pick up the path again in the future and follow it further along...