Eating my breakfast at seven o’clock this morning I wondered briefly what on earth I was doing up so early on my day off? Obviously I am mad! Because of the rain over the least week I thought I’d give the Riverside walk a miss today. It tends to flood down there so I thought it might be a bit tricky. Instead I walked in the opposite direction, up The Big Hill and down the long road to Woolston, where I used to live years ago. It is a good three miles down to the shore and not the prettiest walk, which is what has put me off doing this before.
At the top of the hill it’s a long, winding main road. Eventually it passes Peartree Green where there is a church and a lovely view over the Itchen down to where the old Spitfire factory was back in WW2. From there it is under the railway bridge and into the main high street in Woolston. I was quite sad to see how many shops have closed and are empty since I lived there. They closed the big Vosper Thorneycroft ship builders a few years back (Commando used to work there many years ago) and the whole place has died a bit since then. I walked down past the old Vospers site where they are building a huge complex of luxury flats and from there past the jetty and the pitch and putt onto the shore.
It isn’t a sandy shore, just shingle and a long promenade with little huts all along. We used to go and collect seaweed for the compost heap when I lived there and I used to go down there as a child. The views across Southampton water aren’t all that exciting because the main feature is the Fawley refinery and lots of cranes and stuff, plus thee are four big tower blocks looking out towards them. There are a few horses on the green but other than that pretty it’s unspectacular.
It was very windy down along the shore but the sun was shining and it did help to cool me off. I think it was about a mile and a half along the promenade before I had to take the small path that runs beside the road to Netley. It isn’t much of a path and parts of it are just mud and shingle. Eventually it peters out altogether and I had to walk along the shingle, which was pretty hard going and slowed me down a lot.
I walked past Netley Castle, which used to be a convalescent home years ago. Mother was there for a while when she was recovering from her final operation. Heavily pregnant with Mini Commando, I used to walk down from Woolston to visit her. It is a real castle set in some pretty grounds overlooking the shore. It certainly bought back some memories of walking in the grounds with her. That must have been 21 years ago and revisiting it made me feel quite sad because it wasn’t that long after that that I lost her.
After that I reached Victoria Country Park and walked across it until I reached five miles. As I wasn’t sure if the tide would cut me off going back I decided to take the Netley road home. It did take a little longer but I was back on the promenade before too long. When I reached Woolston I even took a little detour and walked past my old house for memory’s sake. The walk ended with another quick detour to the parcel office to pick up another dress.
When I reached home I’d walked over 14 miles. The plan had been to walk eleven but all the detours added quite a bit. Oh well it’s all good progress for the Marrakech challenge and good practice for the Moonwalk.