Due to a combinations of floods and my bad planning in February 2014 I’d ended up with a shorter and wetter walk than I’d planned. When I came home Commando had just returned from his sixteen mile marathon training. We compared notes over a cup of coffee, especially on the flooding at Mansbridge where we’d both been at some point during the afternoon although not at the same time. After we’d finished our coffee Commando suggested going for a little walk, as he’s found it helps stretch his muscles after a long run. Of course I jumped at the chance, especially when he told me where he was thinking of going.
16 February 2014
At the end of January I set out on a walk to Hamble Marina, somewhere that’s been on my radar for a while but I’ve never actually visited. Sadly it was not to be that day as a small river was running down the trail I needed to take and I had to turn back. This afternoon Commando thought driving down there and exploring would make for a nice walk. The sun was even shining! What more could a girl want?
Hamble village, also called Hamble-le-Rice, is on the tip of the Hamble Peninsular. A village has existed on this spot since AD730, although the name has changed over the centuries with such variations as Hamelea, Hammel and Ham-en-le-Rice. It’s thought the name either comes from the old English word Hamel, meaning crooked, possibly referring to the river Hamble or from a Saxon Thane called Hemele. Le Rice, means brushwood or the rise probably because of the Norman church which stands fifty foot above sea level. Either way the locals know it simply as Hamble.
We parked up in Hamble Square, paid our money and set off towards a lane called The Quay. We hadn’t even made it out of the square though, before my phone came out. Right on the corner at the top of The Quay was the most beautiful house, all herringbone red brick and dark beams. This, I found out later, was the seventeenth century Olde House, unsurprisingly one of the oldest houses in Hamble. This was the moment I also got an introduction to the locals. Hamble is no longer merely a small trading and ship building village, it is a fashionable place to live and to be seen especially with the yachting fraternity. The locals are all rather affluent and fashion conscious, not at all the normal inhabitants of a small Hampshire village.
Eventually Commando managed to get me to stop taking photos of the brickwork and all the funny little doors and we set off down the steep, narrow lane. Almost immediately another pretty little cottage caught my eye, this one white with roses around the door, well there will be roses in summer anyway. It wasn’t long before Commando was sighing, “I should have known you’d keep stopping to take photos, maybe we should have left earlier.”
With so many quaint old houses I couldn’t help myself. There were also a surprising number of pubs in such a small lane but I suppose the yachties like the odd drink or five.
There were no more photos until we came out onto the marina. So many little yachts, such blue water and across the water the trees of Warsash and Sarisbury. Right on the waterfront another building grabbed my attention, Riverside House which is now the Maritime Art Gallery. It looked like an interesting place to visit but, sadly, it wasn’t open. The sandbags outside told the tale of the recent floods, which hit Hamble hard. I hope the artwork was safe.
We spent some time looking at all the yachts, wondering what it must be like to own one and then walked along the front of the Quay. Commando pointed out the tiny walkway to the ferry that crosses the Hamble to Warsash every few minutes throughout the day. As luck would have it a ferry was just loading up, not that we wanted to cross but it was certainly worth seeing. This tiny ferry carries just twelve people and operates on demand. It is also bright pink! Maybe one day I’ll walk down to Hamble and go across.
No sooner had we got moving again than we came across a huge anti submarine mine, now used as a collection box, although I’m not sure what for. There was a plaque with information but, to be honest, weapons are more Commando’s thing. I was more interested in the trees and sky behind it. Oh well, to each their own.
We stopped at the end of the quay to look at more yachts. There seems to be something about the colour pink in Hamble for some reason, everywhere I looked I saw pink boats. Strange because I have never seen a pink boat in my life before.
We walked back along The Quay and then on to Rope Walk. There were more interesting cottages but I will have to come back and look at them properly another time because Commando wanted to show me Well Lane. We’d seen a little cut way with some steps leading down when we were in the square and I was just about to find out where it led. Well lane is a narrow pathway bounded by low, old stone walls. It’s said the stones used to build these walls are from Henry VIII’s castle, St Andrew’s on Hamble common.
Well Lane was home to the public village well and, as such, a focal point in the village. Just as I was wondering if the well was still there, Commando lead me down a tiny side alley and there it was. Actually the original well was replaced by a pump in 1776, so it wasn’t so much Well Lane as Pump Lane but interesting nonetheless. A tall metal pump with a wooden post and handle stood on a small patch of overgrown grass, the wooden bucket underneath was filled with small pebbles. It may have been fairly neglected, but I could just imagine the villagers standing in line waiting to fill their buckets.
The pump was closed in 1908 when the water quality failed to come up to standard so it’s been a long time since the water flowed. Luckily, by the time the well was closed water mains had been installed in Hamble so the villagers probably weren’t too bothered.
We came out by the late eighteenth century Copperhill Terrace, built on the site of coppers used for boiling tar to treat ropes for ships. I stopped take take a picture of the little terrace of red brick houses in the golden light as the sun began to go down.
From there we walked up the High Street towards Hamble Lane. Commando wanted me to get my bearings so I would know where to walk when I come back later through Victoria Country Park. There is a pretty little Norman Church that would bear closer inspection. It is actually called Priory Church of St Andrew the Apostle and was built by a cell of Benedictine Monks in 1109 on land granted by the Bishop of Winchester, William Gifford. The graveyard and lych gate alone would keep me busy taking pictures for hours. Sadly the light was beginning to fade so my photos were not the best.
Our final stop before going back to the square and our car was The Gun Cottage. The name intrigued me and the funny little white house with its tall chimneys and arched porch right on the street was pretty as a picture. This is another seventeenth century house and the name comes from the four cannon halves buried in the ground at the front. Apparently these were placed there by the steward of Queen Victoria’s yachts, Sir John Fullerton, who once lived there. They say the house has a tunnel running all the way to the shoreline which was once used for brandy smuggling.
So that was our little trip to Hamble Marina. A very welcome extra walk for me and a leg stretching exercise for Commando. It has given me a taste of what there is to see and I will certainly come back once things dry out a bit and I can walk down Lovers Lane from Victoria Country Park again. Watch this space.
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