Exploring the humble Hamble
BY ADMIN • APRIL 27, 2018 • DESTINATIONS, OLDER • COMMENTS OFF • 126
This relatively narrow and winding river is one of the jewels in the UK’s booming yachting industry. It may lack some of the glamour of the wall to wall superyachts of Palma, Mallorca, not to mention the sheer buzz of that city. However, the lower three miles of this picturesque estuary is crammed with more than 3,000 boats of all descriptions. They range from the most humble of craft to the very latest carbon fibre Grand Prix racing yachts, large luxury cruisers and ocean voyagers.
While there’s ample depth at high water, deeper draft vessels should take care closer to low tide, especially on spring lows, which occur in the early morning and late afternoon. Equally the tidal streams can run fast, which must be remembered when manoeuvring into a berth.
Much of the UK’s marine industry is based in this area, with a huge number companies in or around the half-dozen marinas. All of these have large associated boatyards at which it’s possible to get any type of work carried out. Equally, chandleries abound – there is probably a greater concentration here than anywhere else on the planet. Many are part of the well-stocked Force 4 group, which includes a very large store near the bridge at Bursledon, which restricts access to the upper reaches for sailing yachts.
Despite all this commercial activity, much of the river and the adjacent shores remain unspoilt. There is plenty of woodland, meadows and salt marsh, plus pleasant footpaths along both sides of the river. It’s worth taking a dinghy trip beyond the motorway bridge, a further half mile upstream from Bursledon, to the totally unspoiled upper reaches, adjacent to the Royal Victoria Country Park. This is best done the couple of hours before high water, when the old market town of Botley can be reached.
Hamble village itself, which is most easily accessed from Port Hamble Marina, retains its quiet old-fashioned ambience, especially on the waterfront, up the hill in the Square and along the narrow, almost traffic free, hill that connects the two. There are numerous restaurants and pubs, some with excellent views over the water. Warsash, on opposite shore, is a smaller, but still thriving village, with small shops, plus a number of pubs and restaurants, including the Rising Sun that overlooks the river and popular public slipway.
Both sides of the river are also home to a number of clubs, notably Warsash Sailing Club near the entrance on the eastern side, Hamble River Sailing Club, the RAF Yacht Club and the Royal Southern Yacht Club on the