A brief history of Hamble-le-Rice
Hamble-le-Rice, situated at the mouth of the River Hamble, has been a significant maritime centre for centuries. In the 14th century it was a more important maritime centre than Portsmouth and was once famous for its crab and lobster trade. Hamble is the midpoint of the Solent Way, which stretches from Milford on Sea to Emsworth.
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Walk along the Hamble Foreshore which is commemorated by anchors and a plaque. This was formed following reclamation work during World War II when US troops built a dock for D-Day landing craft. St John’s Hill leads you up to the Village Green. At the top, just before the Village Green, make your way along the driveway on the left. Then follow the footpath into the wooded area to the right of Mere House.
Coming out of the woods at the corner of Avery’s Field, bear left towards the River Hamble. Continue along the path beneath the oak trees. Follow the path around to the right and then turn left towards the creek and wooden walkway. Keeping to the waters edge, make your way around the creek, skirting Hamble Common. Walk through a kissing gate on your right, the path will meet the road at the Marina entrance. Crossing the road to the car park you will see the World War II Bofors Gun facing Southampton Water. The Ministry of Defence donated the gun in 1988. Beyond the gun emplacement the path runs between the shore and the Common.
Towards the BP oil terminal, a path branching slightly to the right leaves the waterside, coming to an open glade. Continue across the clearing and join a wide path through the trees keeping the terminal to your left. Follow the path, turning left into Copse Lane. Turn right at the T junction into the High Street where you will see the Priory Church of St Andrew. The Church dates back to 1109 and many of the original Norman features still survive. Knife marks made by fishermen thanking God for a safe voyage cover the door to the Church.
Opposite the Church, go along Hamble House Gardens and follow the public footpath at the top through the small recreation ground. Follow this path straight ahead. If you like you could take a right hand turn which shortens your walk by cutting through to Satchell Lane. Continue along the public footpath behind back gardens with playing fields and the former airfield on the left. At the end of the footpath turn right into Satchell Lane, passing the entrance to Mercury Yacht Harbour and Riverside Park.
Here you can take a detour - walk through the Mercury Estate, into St Agatha’s Close on your left. You can reach the river via a path between the houses to the right in Mariners Close. Facing the river you will see the Training Ship Mercury Memorial which reads “Men are the Souls of Ships”. TS Mercury trained cadets for the Royal and Merchant Navies and closed in 1968. Take the footpath with the river on your left and follow it until you reach Satchell Lane near a red telephone kiosk, then turn left and follow Satchell Lane back to The Square.