by Katie Isham.
For a walk that’s under two miles long, this loop makes you feel like you’ve been on a hike through several different landscapes and even navigated a few eras. The sort of walk where, by the end, you’re surprised to remember some of the sights from the beginning. Just the sort of mini mild adventure to engage your mind as your feet take you wandering.
Start at Bursledon train station and take the steep footpath up to a higher vantage point. Follow the road left, crossing the railway and look up the River Hamble at the maritime activity. While passing, we might as well leave the loop briefly to trundle down Land’s End Road as far as possible. You can divert down the steps to The Jolly Sailor if you need sustenance already. Or the end of the path will treat you to a small slipway with glorious views across the water to Swanwick.
Spend as much time as you like at either. No judgement. But eventually, you have to make your way back up the hill. Branch left after the railway line and follow the High Street. Take the moniker with a pinch of salt though. A less active High Street in the land you’ll struggle to find. The fastest moving activity are the bees buzzing past. Where’s a speed camera when you need one?
But it’s easy to see why the bees love it so. There are flowers everywhere. Pink flowers, white flowers, wildflowers, RHS worthy flowers, flowers peeking out from hedgerows, flowers blooming from the cracks in the walls, but most of all, fragrant flowers. The air in Bursledon is thick with the scent of summer. Stroll along, admire the gardens and smell the roses (amongst others).
The houses along here are pretty easy on the eye too. You could be walking through a quintessential English village postcard. Take a moment at Hamble View to appreciate a wider breathtaking vista. A bench with a view over meadows, marinas, woodland, the river and as far over to the Isle of Wight. Next time I’m bringing a flask of tea.
Back onto the High Street, once you reach the bustling metropolis of the phone box, bear right onto School Road. Here you’ll pass the GAF Centre, a charity with a big old bell to ring. Literally. A giant bell sits atop the great wall housing the arts foundation centre. On my visit, a nearby house was hawking runner bean plants to raise money for the cause. Always happy to support and an added bonus to take some plants on a walk.
Up the hill, the pavement free road is flanked by more eye-wateringly beautiful houses and horticulture until you swing right again into a shadier section. The trees gather to invite you into a parkland housing a grand mausoleum. Accept the invitation and go pay your respects to Captain Shawe-Storey. Once buried elsewhere, the Captain was brought by his wife to lay in the newly built folly, but on arrival, they discovered his coffin was too large for the mausoleum. So instead, he is buried outside, able to gaze upon what should have been his final resting place.
Leave the woods and continue along Church Lane until you get to St. Leonard’s of the ecclesiastical label. A charming stone and timber church, it’s definitely worth a wander amongst the graves for a moment of peace and to enjoy even more wildflowers and some remarkable examples of traditional yews.
When the time comes, continue down the lane until you rejoin Station Road to bring you full circle. I returned to reality clasping my newly purchased bean plants and a sense that I’d been on a real adventure through place and time. Maybe they were magic beans and will bring me the blooming magic of Bursledon.
Cost: Free parking at the station car park or the cost of your train fare. Free walking. You may need some pennies for public house refreshments and plants.
Accessibility: A mixture of pavements and footpaths with stretches along the road you must share with cars. Some parts are quite steep, especially along the footpaths and even more so after stopping off at one of the pubs. Can reach the station car park via the A27 and, aptly enough, by taking the train to Bursledon.
Facilities: Two pubs and a restaurant along the route. To balance it out, there’s also a church.