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Hurst Castle >  Google™ Map Sep 2022+  Hampshire Coat of Arms

England-Hampshire Flag UK > England > Hampshire

Sep 2022+

"Artillery fort at the end of a two-mile shingle spit, built in the 16th century to defend against invasion", they say.

Hampshire Coat of Arms

Not fed up yet of hanging around South Coast headlands that poke into the Solent?

Good, because here's another one only this one has an artillery fort at the end of a two-mile shingle spit, built in the 16th century to defend against invasion, alright.

Having peed off the Pope and the Holy Roman Empire, Henry VIII decided to concentrate on his defensive game and kicked off constructions from Cornwall to Kent. Hampshire has its fair share, what with the Isle of Wight but a short hop across for French or Spanish invaders.

It's remarkably intact thanks to potential and actual ding-dongs with the Dutch, Napolean and you-know-who during World War II all making for the necessary upkeep.

Hurst Castle

English Heritage keeps guard, these days, and for a small number of pounds will let you in and atop the circular structure from where there are, not unreasonably, reasonable views.

Hurst Castle - Atop
Hurst Castle - To the Needles

That includes the Isle of Wight, the shortest crossing to which is less than a mile, although you'll have to squint for the Needles, a few miles farther away to the south.

The lighthouse is a clue to the narrowness of the channel although the craft are largely leisurely and there's no real danger of the Lymington ferry ending up stranded.

Hurst Point Lighthouse
Hurst Castle

There's evidence down at the shore why it's no longer access all areas and they've knocked down the admission accordingly, thanks very much. It's due to one thing the castle couldn't easily defend against... coastal erosion, naturally.

The shingle has shifted since the days of Henry's handiwork, you see, and boulders are being bulldozed in to ward off the waves. Hurst Castle now keeps company with Cambodia and, believe it or not, Belize on the World Monuments Watch, a biennial list of culturally significant sites in danger of disappearing.

Serious stuff, for sure, but there's a matter of equal urgency that's now top of the World SlyBob Watch... they don't do sandwiches in the caff!

Saying that, it's more of a hut selling coffee, crisps and biscuits so clearly not claiming to be a caff, really.

That's pretty much it, really, begging the question, should you want to bother, just how exactly do you get here? It turns out the logistics of that are on a par with a 16th-century invasion, actually.

You won't be coming by train, those rails were laid in World War II for horsedrawn carts full of supplies delivered to a concrete jetty.

Hurst Castle

That means negotiating a shingle-sapping stretch atop a raised bank from Milford-on-Sea or Keyhaven and, either way, that's a two-mile trek. It's not that much of a calf-killer, actually, and is compacted enough to mean you could even cycle.

Or you could just get a ferry.

Keyhaven is yet another, well, haven for boaty sorts although the masts are more modest than have been seen elsewhere.

Hurst Castle Ferry
Hurst Castle Ferry

It's walkable from Lymington across the marshes although the last bit goes on a little longer than you might like.

Still, the Gun Inn and its refreshments beckon just not on a Monday or Tuesday so it's crisps and biscuits from a hut, except this one belongs to the sailing club.

The ferry in question is a separate operation to the castle and when it's said 'ferry', there will be no more than a dozen on board.

It's proper old-skool and you pay when you pitch up to chug through what's very nearly a lagoon that looks to be no more than a foot deep and what would be a lagoon if it wasn't not not-quite cut off from the sea, you see.

None of SlyBob's pics do justice to what's more of a wildlife-watching trip, really, and not a time-saving option for a lazy pair who, despite having already walked from Lymington, are scared of a bit of shingle.

It's a two-mile walk atop a shingle bank back to civilisation, alright, but how is this known?

Hurst Castle - Near Milford-on-Sea

Because the queue for the ferry back to Keyhaven is clearly going to require at least one return trip and coffee, crisps and biscuits can only sustain for so long.

Thankfully, it's as tough as old Tarmac™ so those pebbles will be dashed across with no worry of no tired calves in the morning.

Henry's castles extended all the way to South Wales and Milford Haven but Milford-on-Sea isn't quite on the same scale.

There's something similarly circular at, what's now known to be one of the town's primary fleshpots, the Lighthouse but it's standing room only inside and there's a 30-minute wait for a toastie at the caff farther on.

Milford-on-Sea - The Lighthouse

That leaves little else but to ponder the fate of the local loft converters, all opportunities to enjoy the sea views seemingly exhausted.

Milford-on-Sea - Hurst Road
Milford-on-Sea Bowls Club

That includes those overlooking the bowling club and it all lends to what wasn't quite expected of an advertised, small seaside town, in a good way, by the way.

There's a high street to be had a few minutes behind that gives no real hint of the seaside. More would like to be said but the sky has started to dim and spit and there's a bus back to Lymington due, with the next one after that not for another couple of hours.

That means no time to sit inside somewhere but, get this, they're all out of bread at the Coastal Bakery so the Co-op™ then a bench it is, then...

'Five packets of crisps please and, erm, what aisle are the biscuits in?'

SlyBob's feeling all famished at the memory of this afternoon.