A boat trip out to a massive castle, a secret (very good) cafe, and a great walk back home. There are masses of dark passages to explore, strange crevices and well signed shell storage bunkers to explore. We love playing hide and seek there. The views from the top are spectacular. Take champagne and a picnic (or pre-order if from the team at the cafe) to help along the feel of a wonderful days celebration.
Whatever the weather, come and blow your cobwebs away for this spectacular day out for all the family.
We’re writing this trip to start from the Keyhaven public car park. It’s central in the little hamlet and opposite the Gun Inn. Postcode SO41 0TP
The walk takes you out to Hurst Castle, run by English Heritage. It sits at the very end of Hurst Spit, a geographical oddity, 1.5 miles long, that stretches south, into the Solent toward the Isle of Wight. The Spit divides the choppy Solent waters and creates a calm lagoon which is an excellent site for paddle boarding trips, kayaking and quiet sailing.
Here is Keyhaven harbour. The boat trip starts from just along the sea wall.
The boat trips are run by Hurst Marine and cost £6.50 for adults, £3.50 for kids return, or 30% off for one way trips. You don’t need to book, the ferry runs every 20 mins. The boat has a cover over it for bad or windy weather and the journey is nearly always flat calm because you’re travelling up the eastern side in the lagoon next to the spit and not the rough side of the Spit to the west.
Hurst Castle was the perfect location to defend the western approach to the Solent. The castle was built by Henry VIII as a part of the coastal fortresses defence system. It was finally completed in 1544.
In 1648 Charles I was imprisoned here, before being taken to London to his trial and execution.
The castle was modernised during the Napoleonic wars and again in the 1870’s when the enormous armoured wings were constructed. Two of the huge 38-ton guns installed in the 1870’s can be viewed in their massive casemates. They are quite a thing to see, especially since they were rotated by men pushing!
During World War II, Hurst was manned with coastal gun batteries and searchlights much of it still in place.
The above picture shows the start of the walk home on the Spit.
The above picture shows the view back to the most western wing of the castle.
In summer on your walk home you can easily forage for edible samphire, a delicious succulent that grows in carpets on the tidal marshes. Learn more about samphire and cooking it here.
The above pic shows the Hurst beach toward Milford in the winter. The below pic shows it in summer.
Fine sand is revealed at mid-low tide.
Walk further around toward the (very good) Raft Rocks cafe in Milford on Sea and you’ll walk along the Milford beaches, pics below.