by Katie Isham.
After all the panic / excess / stress / chaos (delete as appropriate) of the festive period, the time is right for some outdoor indulgence. Nothing beats getting outside for some big space, big air and big colour. Consider this a preventative attack on the January Blues: let’s counter the blues with a shot of colour.
Life should be bright and beautiful and Calshot seems like the perfect place for such a mission. The village of Calshot lies at the mouth of Southampton Water at the very eastern edge of the New Forest. By the time you reach the shore, you may feel like you’ve run a lengthy gauntlet of the roundabouts of the Hythe bypass yet you’re still in view of much of the city of Southampton. And Portsmouth. And a grand slice of the Isle of Wight for that matter. This is a great vantage point to observe our local landmarks.
January can be a dull month so it’s a good idea to actively search out the colour in your world. There’s so much out there when you really look. It’s also a time for resolutions. I’ve never been much of a fan of these arbitrary declarations but here’s some to consider on a visit to Calshot.
- Greet the beach like the small toddler I saw: smile and stumble down the sloping shingle with cheer in your heart. Wellies give you the best paddling option but you could always dare to bare the toes (or more) if that’s your thing.
- Explore the full length of Calshot Spit. Park at the first car park and walk. Pull a full loop around the castle and back. Fill your lungs with salty air and get your legs aching as they work against the gravel. You’ll feel all the better for being tired.
- Squint. The colours of the beach are bright enough to induce the good squinting. Choose the right day when the sun is out, even just peeking through the winter clouds, and the world will light up before your eyes.
- Take a moment of quiet contemplation as you flood your eyes and your mind with the sound, sight and scent of the sea. Meditation as nature intended.
- Smile at the beach huts lining the shore. Enjoy the puntastic names and the delicious pastel colours on display. Choose your favourite for that imaginary lottery win purchase.
- Look up. Take time to watch the skies, the clouds and the birds. Feel small, and then, inexplicably, realise that it makes you feel important.
- Look down. Examine the shells, shift through the sand, find those skimmers and search for your own brand of buried treasure. Sink your fingers into the chilly sand to ground yourself.
- Wonder at the empty space where the Fawley chimney once stood. Progress comes in all sizes so embrace the positivity of the changes in your own life. Head into 2022 with the enthusiasm of a welly-wearing toddler unleashed onto an empty beach.
The January Blues might be coming but we have sand and sunshine on tap at Calshot. Blue + yellow = green. Add a bit of brightness to your world and who knows what will grow from the colour palette.
Cost: Free access but parking charges apply if you arrive by car. Activities in the centre (and refreshments) are at a cost but the beach is free!
Accessibility: Easily accessed by car if you turn left at Totton and take the Hythe bypass through the New Forest. Bluestar runs its Number 8 service from Southampton city centre to Calshot. Some paved areas but the paths along the beach are mostly shingle, obviously turning more shingly as you near the water.
Facilities: Car parks and toilets available at several points along the spit. At the end of the spit is Calshot Activities Centre where you can undertake any number of high energy activities if a wander and a ponder hasn’t revved your adrenaline quite enough.
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