As Natural England (NE) gradually develops the England Coast Path with its adjoining access land, local campaigners study the route and argue for the best possible one.
The path between Calshot and Gosport in south Hampshire has a problem when it reaches the Hamble valley. NE wants to make use of the ferry across the estuary between Warsash and Hamble and not create a path on either side of the estuary. The Hamble River Valley Forum (HRVF), backed by the Open Spaces Society, believes that there should be an alternative route, on both sides of the estuary, north to the A27 road crossing, about two miles upstream.
The organisations argue that the ferry is uncertain and unreliable, with no timetable (passengers have to summon it using a mobile phone), it is inaccessible several times a year because of high tides, it cannot operate in all weather conditions, it is difficult to gain access to it and it is not financially viable during the winter. It is therefore not guaranteed to continue in perpetuity.
In March I walked part of the proposed alternative on the eastern side of the estuary. It would follow the Solent Way, an attractive route.
It has plenty of ornithological interest
and passes a nature reserve.
More work is needed for the route on the western side of the estuary but HRVF has identified a potential route. The A27 crossing is not unpleasant because there are wide footways on the bridge.
Having made their submissions, the organisations await NE’s report to see whether a further campaign is needed.