20131029_A wander by the sea, in Milford on Sea
When : 29th October 2013
Who : Me and My Family
Where : Milford on Sea including Hurst Spit, Hampshire
Just a quick diary entry this one, as I can’t really justify it being a country walk as such – How do I distinguish a walk from a wander ? … well, in this case, it’s because I was wearing training shoes not boots, no rucksack just a camera case … and daughter came along too, so it can’t be a proper country walk ‘cause she doesn’t “do” country walking!
I guess an apology might be in order too, as this dates back to last October, and it’d kind of got lost in amongst other stuff I’ve been doing, until that is, Milford on Sea hit the news over this week-end and it reminded me of our holiday in the 2013 autumn half term.
If you click on a pic’ it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream.
We’d left the caravan site we were staying at, walked down a wooded valley, on a made up path (a bit muddy in places) following a babbling brook to emerge into the outskirts of Milford on Sea. We then headed into the centre of the village, via High Street, turned into Sea Road and followed it all the way down to meet Hurst Road at the coast. Although pavement walking this was fine, as the village is by no means an ugly place to walk through, and we’d never been here before so it was interesting being in a new place anyway.
Once at the coast, the temperature dropped quite noticeably, there being a strong and quite chilly breeze blowing in off the English Channel/The Solent. However, this was nothing compared to the few days before, when the area had endured up to 90+ mile an hour winds battering the coast line. We’d actually delayed our holiday by a day or two waiting for the storms to subside somewhat.
The bright breezy quite sunny weather was quite nice now, but the aftermath of the storms was evident across the south coast. In Milford, this was shown by loads of pebbles from the beach being thrown up and over the sea wall defences. In fact there was a street cleaner going back and forth along the front sweeping up the stones on each pass to and fro.
First up was an attempt to get some evocative photo’s; waves + groynes + sun + wind + silhouettes, etc., are always photogenic, as are colourful beach-huts. I’ll let you judge if I managed to capture the feel of the seaside in my pic’s, but I think I managed to get a gist of the autumnal conditions. We obviously couldn’t go any further straight on (without getting our feet wet), so we had a choice of two directions – West along the coast, or East along the coast. We chose the easterly option, taking a wide surfaced path, I guess you’d call it the promenade, and this soon became the top of the sea wall running out onto the top of Hurst Spit.
A spit, is a narrow strip of land formed by longshore drift (look it up on google if you want), but basically it’s like a long natural skinny length of normally sand or pebbles/stones/shingle sticking out along the coast into the sea. In the case of Hurst Spit, it is made of pebbles and has been reinforced by human construction and protection of much larger rocks. On the seaward side it is rugged with piles of rocks and groynes to take the teeth of the sea when in an angry and aggressive mood, the inward side, is a softer land/seascape of salt marsh, estuary streams, and pools.
The spit itself is really quite long and leads out to Hurst Castle, and all along there are super views out over The Solent to The Isle of Wight, including what must be one of the most famous, if not THE most famous rock stacks in the country – The Needles, sticking out into The English Channel. Whilst we were here, they were silhouetted against a bright sky with sparkles bouncing off the choppy waters and shapely clouds scudding across the sky. A powerful sight, but beautiful as well ! … Maybe I (we) appreciate this kind of beauty more than we’d otherwise do because we live as far away from the coast as it is possible to do in England, in leafy land-locked Warwickshire.
Anyway, we decided we weren’t going to hike all the way to the castle, instead dropping down on the landward side to where a stream exits a sizeable pool of open water. This pool is called Sturt Pond and I suppose is what would be called a salt-marsh lagoon. This is an obvious haven for water-fowl, with a large number of swans congregating in and around the outflow stream and groups of geese flying in, almost using the spit as a directional marker as they flew in from across The Solent descending rapidly at the end of their flight path to drop in to land on the pool. It’s obviously a well known birding spot, as there were a good number of photographers intermittently positioned around the pool with extremely long lenses putting my 18-55 kit lens to shame.
From here, we headed back towards the mainland, staying low on the sheltered side of the embankment. I quite liked the silhouettes of the brave souls on the top of the spit in the teeth of the breeze; it really shows how small and insignificant a human being can appear to be against nature.
As we reached the mainland, we decided a warming cup of something and maybe a bite to eat in The Marine Cafe would be just the thing. Prices seemed reasonable, there were tables available inside and the cafe itself looked friendly and inviting in a modern and clean adaptation of art-deco style. We didn’t delay long outside and in we went. It turned out the owners hailed from and still have family in Dunchurch, just a couple of miles from where we live. The lady we were talking to, gave a potted history about how they’d come to run a cafe in Milford and the story of the re-development of the cafe into the establishment it is today, with the cafe on the ground floor, a restaurant on the 1st floor, along with some very posh looking bedroom accommodation. On the top of all that is a super rooftop terrace. There are fantastic views all around, but especially out to sea, with large plate glass windows on all sides and from all levels of the building; quite stunning really. The owners were so proud of their business, they insisted on giving us a tour, including the bedrooms/suite and the artworks on the walls. Ultimately they were probably trying to build up business, but it didn’t really feel like it.
Well, I said above that they’d built up their establishment to what it is as of “today”, what I mean is up until a couple of days ago …. Because …. on 14th February 2014 it was completely wrecked by the latest of a series of big storms to blow in during the wettest winter on record. The conditions were so bad the beach was blown inland, over the sea wall, over the road and through the plate glass windows. The thirty or so Valentine’s Day diners had to take refuge deep inside the building, to be rescued by the emergency services. The cars outside apparently floated off down the street and ended up completely wrecked too.
It’s not often somewhere you’ve visited, and people you’ve met, (especially in a relatively sleepy back-water of a place) end-up on the national news, but Milford on Sea and The Marine Cafe/restaurant have certainly made the news over the last day or so. Our thoughts and best wishes go out to all those affected and we hope “The Marine” is up and running again in time for the new holiday season and that they get a little good publicity once they’ve repaired all the damage.
Well, back to the day, we left the cafe, headed back up to Milford on Sea village centre, checked out a local pub (The Smugglers Inn) as a potential place to eat in the evening and then back up the wooded valley to our caravan park, pausing only for the kids to do a spot of tree climbing en-route.
Happy days with my family !!!!!!
I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.