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.

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