Thursday 21 April 2011

Hayling Island

Langstone Bridge
Hayling Island is set up perfectly for cycling. A quiet cycle route swept us through a tunnel of trees from Havant train station to Langstone Bridge - the crossing point to Hayling. The Hayling Billy track then follows the old railway line that used to carry my dad to his boyhood summer holidays on the island. The train stopped running in 1963, and now the route takes cyclists away from the traffic clogged road, along the west coast past a nature reserve, mudflats and rapeseed fields.

Rapeseed field near Newton

Lunch at the Sunset Cafe
An arrow-straight, tree-lined road brought us to the beach area. Where turf covered sand, studded with gorse, gives way to dusty car parks and pastel coloured beach huts. A seemingly endless bank of shingle runs in either direction before the sea. The Sunset Cafe provided a tasty lunch.

Shingle banks facing Portsmouth
Beach huts and esplanade terracing
Hayling Light Railway sits next to the fun fair
The fun fair feels like the centre of the island. Downwind, the sporadic roar of the rides is carried great distances. Up close, the sudden lack of space becomes suffocating. Hayling Light Railway offers an escape - the rusty rails meandering east beside the beach.

looking over to Wittering
The south-eastern shore offers greater tranquility despite the density of housing squeezed into every available nook.

Sand dunes by the sailing club
Leaving the southern shore, we followed the busy main road north before gratefully branching off to the peaceful country lanes of North Hayling, which perhaps provide a glimpse of the island my dad visited all those years ago.

Sunday 17 April 2011

Calshot Marshes Nature Reserve

Calshot Marshes Nature Reserve
On a scrubby stretch of land at the end of the A326 in Hampshire is a left-over place of shingle, where beach huts turn their backs on the looming presence of Fawley power station. Somehow there's also room for a lifeboat station, coastguard tower, castle, campsite and a giant activities centre.

Calshot outdoor centre
Between the power station and the activity centre lies the scraggy, hunkered down, bristly islands that make up Calshot Marshes nature reserve. Sadly ignored by most visitors, the islands barely bother to raise themselves out of the mud. However, for birds it's a different story. Designated an SSSI, the area "supports nationally important numbers of migratory and over-wintering waders and wildfowl."

Low-lying mudflats of Calshot Marshes
The report from English Nature continues: "It regularly supports more than 1% of the national winter populations of wigeon, teal, ringed plover, grey plover, black-tailed godwit, redshank and dunlin and is thus considered to be of national significance to each of these species. It also regularly holds more than 1% of the world population of the dark-bellied brent goose and is thus considered internationally significant for that species."

Clashot Marshes looking back from the power station
"The numbers of some other species, notably the great crested grebe, gadwall and shoveler, often approach or achieve nationally important population levels. Total numbers of all waterfowl regularly exceed 10,000 in winter and sometimes approach twice that number."

Fawley power station
This protected area is so crucial because of the immense industrial pressures that surround it. From the busy cargo port at Southampton to the thrumming, oil-burning power station right next to it. But, for good or bad, the place wouldn't have the same atmosphere without the menacing vibrations of the power station.

Fawley power station hanger

Saturday 16 April 2011

Outdoor Photography: Island Journal Pt 13

In Outdoor Photography magazine, Issue 139, May 2011, T writes about Lewis and Harris.

Saturday 9 April 2011

Tea and cake with Chris Packham

We had the great pleasure of meeting Chris Packham at the judging of The Master Builder's photographic competition at Buckler's Hard last weekend (where T was awarded 'runner-up'). Chris was generous with both his time and his expertise, and organiser Jackie Neylon (who took this photo of T and Chris) did an excellent job of arranging the event, and keeping us happy with generous helpings of orange cake! Thanks to everyone at the hotel for a thoroughly enjoyable morning. 

Saturday 2 April 2011

Canon EOS 60D - The Expanded Guide

The latest expanded guide, written by Tracy, has just been published. As you may have noticed from the image above, it's on the Canon EOS 60D. Besides being a great read, it's also lavishly illustrated with T's photographs.

Have a look at:
Canon EOS 60D (Expanded Guide) on
Canon EOS 60D (The Expanded Guide) on