The Solent Way

Hythe to Beaulieu

The Solent Way > Hythe to Beaulieu

Introduction

This walk follows the path in the opposite direction, from the town of Hythe the path follows the coast on the edge of Southampton Water for a while before heading in-land on a wooded path into the New Forest. The path initially follows the edge of the New Forest then follows along the edge of the road into Beaulieu.

Getting to the Start

From the M271 turn onto the A35 towards Totton then turn onto the A326 at the first junction (signed Hythe). Go straight on at the first two roundabouts, then left at the next (signed for Hythe) and follow the road into the town centre, where there are several car parks.

By public transport Solent Blue Line service 38 runs hourly from Southampton, Millbrook, Totton, Marchwood and Fawley to Hythe. Service X9, also operated by Solent Blue Line operates hourly (except on Sundays) from Southampton, Millbrook, Rushington, Fawley and Calshot to Hythe. Wilts and Dorset service 112 runs a few times daily (except on Sundays) from Lymington and Beaulieu to Hythe. Finally the Hythe Ferry runs every 30 minutes from Southampton (Town Quay) to Hythe Pier where you can get the train along the pier (or walk) to get to the start of the walk.

The Walk

The market town of Hythe is the start point for this walk, and the Solent Way starts from near the pier. The pier is still very much a working pier, with the Hythe Ferry departing from the end of the pier to Southampton every 30 minutes and the original pier train (the world's oldest pier train) still runs the length of the pier to connect with the ferries. From the gardens next to the pier you can see across Southampton Water and see the cruise ships that are often moored in the docks. Southampton Water is a busy shipping lane, with many small sailing boats, ferries and freight ships regularly passing Hythe.

Hythe Hythe Pier
Hythe Hythe Pier

From Hythe Pier the path officially follows St. Johns Street, the street behind the High Street, however you can continue along the coast a little further, as there are generally water-front paths through the new housing beyond the pier.

A cruise ship at Southampton Houses in Hythe
A cruise ship at Southampton Houses in Hythe

At the end of St. Johns Street the path continues into Shore Road, passing RAF Hythe on the left, blocking out views of the coast. Once beyond the RAF base though you get to see round the coast once more, and now the coast has become marsh-land again, an important wildlife reserve. The path follows the road again here although there is little traffic and a park next to the road.

Industrial Southampton Water Looking over towards Southampton
Industrial Southampton Water Looking over towards Southampton

Soon the road turns away from the coast and you come to a level crossing which you cross. The railway line here is used by freight trains heading into the nearby Fawley Refinery, a vast site which covers much of the coast to the south of Hythe. Continue on the road as it starts to climb the hill and at the junction of roads, take the left road (Hart Hill). This road continues to climb coming to a group of houses and a pub. Beyond the pub the path becomes a track through the woods.

The wooded path beyond Furzedown Farm
The wooded path beyond Furzedown Farm

Soon this path becomes a track again, emerging at a junction of tracks. Continue straight on here and follow the track to a second junction where you again go straight-on (slightly left) emerging near to part of the refinery. The quiet looking road is anything but, with large trucks going into and out of the depot. Continue more or less straight on and you come to another road which you cross and follow the footpath coming out on the edge of the main road to Fawley near another pub. Cross the road and follow the track round more industrial buildings close to the main road, but then the path goes through a gate and is now in the beautiful New Forest, where the landscape quickly changes to woodland. Sadly the path follows more or less under the massive pylons that continue as far as the eye can see however.

Entering the New Forest Typical New Forest landscape
Entering the New Forest Typical New Forest pines

The path appears not to be signed through this part of the walk, but there are plenty of obvious paths to follow and with the pylons dominating the skyline it's hard to get lost.

New Forest ponies The power lines to Fawley
New Forest Ponies The power lines back to Fawley

Soon the path comes to Beaulieu Road and follows the road for the next couple of miles. However there are wide verges on the road and plenty of small footpaths on either side of the road, so you don't have to follow the course of the road the whole way. Soon the woodland gives way to moorland giving views for miles around, although the many towers of the vast Fawley Refinery dominate the skyline to the west. You often see the ponies of the forest on the moorland (or the road) on this part of the path.

The towers of Fawley Refinery in the distance The New Forest landscape
The towers of the Fawley Refinery in the distance The New Forest Landscape
Ponies on the road
Ponies on the road

Soon you come to a junction of the roads, where there is a pub on the corner. Here continue straight on the same road. Here the verges become narrower and the road begins to drop down hill, making the walking a little more dangerous, although there are wide enough verges for most of the road. Soon the path comes to the edge of the Beaulieu River where there is a pleasant river-side area.

The river Beaulieu Palace House
The river Beaulieu Palace House, Beaulieu
The river Beaulieu Beaulieu
The river Beaulieu Beaulieu
Entrance to Beaulieu Abbey
The Entrance to Beaulieu Abbey

The path crosses the bridge over the river and in to the centre of the village. The village is beautiful with the historic buildings lining the High Street and the views across the river to the Palace House.

Beaulieu Beaulieu
Beaulieu Beaulieu
Beaulieu Beaulieu
Beaulieu Beaulieu
The River Beaulieu and Palace House Beaulieu
The River Beaulieu and Palace House Beaulieu

Getting Back

Wilts and Dorset bus services 112 runs from Beaulieu back to Hythe. At the time of writing, there are around 8 buses a day Monday - Friday and 4 per day on Saturdays (no service on Sunday).

Links

The following web sites provide information on the area.


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