Walk the Shipwrights Way along the Hayling Billy
Please note that following a successful bid for £89,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the route will be closed at Hayling Island for path upgrades. The work is expected to take approximately three weeks from 7 July and reopen before the start of the school summer holidays.
Distance: 7 miles.
Time: 3 hours at a leisurely pace.
OS map: Explorer 120 Chichester.
Route: Route detail and maps
Path condition: mostly off-road on a gravel track which follows a historic disused railway and along roads. It is a good, flat route, suitable for pushchairs and mobility vehicles. There are no steps, stiles or gates. Please note this section is open to walkers, cyclists and horse-riders.
Parking: Several public car parks in Havant.
About the Shipwrights Way
The Shipwrights Way is a new 50 mile long distance route linking villages and towns in east Hampshire through some beautiful countryside. Starting near Farnham, it runs southwards across the South Downs to the sea at Portsmouth and is now nearly all open. With the help of the Ministry of Defence, we are aiming to open the final section between Bordon and Liphook by spring 2015.
The Shipwrights Way can be separated into smaller routes which make good walks or rides in their own right. The route is open to walkers and cyclists throughout, and many sections are also open to horse riders.
The project is a partnership between the County Council, East Hampshire District Council, the Forestry Commission and the South Downs National Park Authority. We were pleased to work closely with Havant Borough Council on the section featured here.
During Tudor and Napoleonic times, huge quantities of timber, particularly oak, were grown at Alice Holt Forest (the beginning of Shipwrights Way) for use in shipbuilding. The route finishes at Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard, home to many shipwrights over the centuries and now home to the Mary Rose, HMS Victory, and HMS Warrior.
Lots to see!
There is woodland, heathland, downland, coast, lots of beautiful views – and now 20 sculptures beautifully carved in Portland stone. Each sculpture tells ‘the story of the landscape’, providing a fascinating hint of the heritage and wildlife along the way, from the beautiful Nightjar to the Natterjack Toad, cockleshells, butterflies, chalk pits, Roman pottery and a soldier’s knapsack.
The Shipwrights Way website gives detailed maps and general information, including: path gradient and surface, what you’ll see along the way, places to eat, railway stations and other facilities. There’s also information on each sculpture, photos, films and audio clips describing the history and wildlife.
The walk starts at Havant station. Leaving the southern (town) side of Havant station, turn left along Waterloo Road and look for the rail crossing on the left where you join the Hayling Billy, a disused railway which is now a well-used gravel track, marked with the blue ‘Shipwrights Way’ signs. You will stay on this easy-to-follow track for nearly the entire route.
Shortly before crossing onto Hayling Island, you arrive at Langstone, a picturesque waterfront community with an old mill. Crossing the road bridge onto Hayling Island, look for the remains of the rail bridge and its signal to the right and (at low tide) a historic causeway (the ‘wadeway’) on your left, now deep underwater in the centre due to the canal being cut through in the 1820s.
At the far side of the bridge, turn into the car park on your right and re-join the Hayling Billy, continuing southwards along the coast, with beautiful views across Langstone harbour.
This is an internationally important site for its wildfowl and wading birds – look out for Black-tailed Godwits and large flocks of Brent Geese in winter, and Oystercatchers on the Victorian oysterbeds at the northern end of the island. Here you can see the oyster sculpture.
Further south, look for the Little Tern sculpture, whose curved wing also commemorates the invention of windsurfing here in 1958 by local resident Peter Chilvers. The hedgerows along this route are also managed for wildlife, particularly butterflies in summer.
On reaching the Station Theatre, leave the Billy and cross over into Staunton Avenue. Here you have a choice about the onward route, either continuing along the route or catching the no. 30/31 bus back to Havant (leaving four times an hour Monday to Saturday, but less frequently on Sundays). Please check bus timetables here and check which side of the road to stand.
If you choose to walk or cycle on, you can continue on to the ferry, passing the Brent Goose sculpture and some colourful houseboats before arriving at ferry point. This marks the end of this featured section of the Shipwrights Way.
Look out for the Second World War-era Mulberry Harbour sitting in the water north of the jetty, built on Hayling to assist the D-day landings.
To avoid Ferry Road, walkers can choose instead to walk across the heath and along the shingle beach.
The Shipwrights Way path then continues after the ferry into Portsmouth, along the seafront, finishing at the fascinating Historic Dockyard – making a total of 12 miles, adding an extra five miles to your walk – with the option to return by train from Portsmouth Harbour to Havant.