10 great ways to enjoy the Hampshire coastline this summer
PUBLISHED: 11:18 09 August 2016
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When the sun is shining there is no better place to spend the day than our stunning Hampshire coastline. Claire Pitcher chooses her top ten activities for enjoying the water this summer
Get into sailing
Sailing is an incredibly rewarding sport to get involved with and there’s no better place to try it than in the Solent. While there is always something new to learn and there are a variety of different disciplines to explore, initial success is relatively instant and you can be controlling your own boat within half-an-hour of being afloat. Southampton Water Activities Centre specialises in dinghy, keelboat, powerboat, shore-based training and watersport experiences. The River Itchen is a unique location providing both sheltered sailing in the river and quick access to Southampton Water and the Solent for more advanced sailing. If you want to discover more, call 02380 915753 and visit www.swac.co.uk.
Southampton Boat Show
From September 16 to 25, at Mayflower Park and the Town Quay in Southampton, boating enthusiasts from all over the UK arrive to enjoy the Boat Show. But it’s not just about dreaming about getting out on the water, there are plenty of opportunities to try sailing and paddle boarding, or go out on a RIB or yacht. It’s free to try, but you have to book in early. There’s plenty to do for the kids, as well as a festival stage and fashion show. Tickets cost £20 in advance for adults, or £27 on the gate. Children under 15 can go for free. Book online and find out more at www.southamptonboatshow.com.
If you’ve always wanted to experience a Sunseeker but just haven’t rustled up the hundreds of thousands of pounds to buy one, you could always try the official Sunseeker Driving Experience. Powerboat Days, based in Ocean Village Marina, offers a fun, thrilling experience, which lasts around two-and-a-half hours. Each person gets to take the helm of the luxury Sunseeker powerboat as you make your way to the Isle of Wight. It costs around £125 per person. See www.powerboatdays.co.uk.
Explore in a sea kayak
Sea kayaking is one of the very best ways to see and explore the Hampshire coastline with no two sessions ever the same. It comes in the form of one to one coaching, day trips and tours along the Hampshire coastline for singles, couples, families and small groups. One highlight of kayaking along Hampshire’s coastline is getting up close and personal with the wildlife. Kayakers are happily surprised to spot seals, dolphins and porpoises playing in the Solent.
Beaulieu-based company www.LiquidLogistics.co.uk have run sea kayak courses since 2003. Beginners start with a few introductory sessions before going out to sea in either small groups or one-to-one with an instructor. Their Sea Kayaking Introduction courses start from £45, all kit included. For more information, call 01590 612377.
If sailing or kayaking is too sedate a method of exploring the coastline, you could take a few kitesurfing lessons. Hampshire Kitesurfing Centre at Hill Head have been up and running for 12 years now. They have BKSA and IKO instructors who will soon have you kitesurfing safely. Whether you’re a beginner, or more advanced and are looking to nail the latest trick, go along to Breezes Café on Solent Road and the professionals will offer the best advice. A two-day course costs around £200. They also offer stand up paddle boarding lessons and Powerkite lessons. Find out more and book online at www.hampshirekitesurfing.com.
Shoresearch with the HIWWT
The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust run a Shoresearch project where you can learn more about the area’s varied marine life while helping to build a complete picture of our stunning coastal habitats. You don’t need any special skills or knowledge to take part. HIWWT offer training courses each year so you can learn how to conduct a survey and what to look out for, or you can simply go along to surveys and learn as you go. All you need to do to take part is book on the survey you’d like to attend then turn up on the day. For more details and to book, see www.hiwwt.org.uk.
Relax at Lepe
If adrenaline watersports aren’t really your thing, then how about a picnic at Lepe, a coastal country park in the New Forest National Park. There are nature reserves all around and you can also watch the ships passing in and out of Southampton Water. If you fancy a stroll, an audio trail is available plus there is a five-mile circular walk with views over the salt marsh and Beaulieu Estate. See www.newforestnpa.gov.uk.
National Watersports Festival
Taking place from September 2 to 4 on Hayling Island, The National Watersports Festival (NWF) is the largest participation water sports event in the UK. Fondly known as ‘The People’s Festival,’ It is designed to cater for novice and intermediate watersports enthusiasts. It’s a mass-participation event with a great atmosphere, taster sessions and a simple, ‘Out-and-Back’ race format, encompassing kitesurfing, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding as well as windsurfing. For entry prices and more details see www.nationalwatersportsfestival.com.
Walk the Salt Marshes
Just three miles out of Lymington, Keyhaven Marshes and mudflats are a great place to visit if you want to spot some fascinating birdlife and plant life. There is no access into the coastal marshes themselves, but gravel paths allow visitors to walk along the sea wall to admire the views across the Solent to Hurst Castle and the Isle of Wight. The fish in the waters make this a haven for numerous birds including Sandwich and Little Terns, Black-headed Gulls, Cormorants, Redshank and Oystercatcher. For botanists, the local specialist salt-tolerant plants to look out for among the shingle banks include the Yellow-horned Poppy, Sea Campion and Sea Aster. Find out more from the Trust’s website at www.hiwwt.org.uk.
Tall ship ahoy
How about joining a 200ft Brig for the day? Experience life aboard the Stavros S Niarchos on August 18. You can climb the masts and take the helm while setting sail from Portsmouth with Tall Ships Adventures. For a day sail you don’t need to have any experience of sailing to be part of the crew and you can be aged anywhere from 12 to 80. £125 also includes breakfast in the mess, lunch and afternoon tea throughout the trip. Other dates you can experience the Tall Ships include September 3 and 10 and October 1. Book online and find out about the Tall Ships fleet at www.tallships.org.