Name of trip - Up the Hamble
A little bit about the area
Living near Southampton, the river Hamble is one of my family's favourite places to paddle. You can easily call it a river of 2 halves allowing your journeys to experience the best of both worlds. The first half is very commercialised; full of marinas, sailing clubs and yachts. Whereas the second half, starting at Manor Farm, is more isolated with rolling views, fields and woodland on either side.
What was our aim?
As a family bubble, we prefer to paddle in areas that are less busy, allowing us to focus on the fun on the experience rather than watching out for moving craft. Due to tides and winter light we were limited to the main Hamble Estuary which is often hustling and bustling. One trick that we have picked up is that if you keep close to the western bank and out the channel you still get an amazing experience whilst staying safe. Launching on a chilly morning, we set off from the Warsash slipway in front of the Rising Sun pub and crossed the channel to paddle up river along the Hamble side. There are many sheltered lagoons here that many people pass without realising exist. Definitely a treat that you should explore if you are in the area as they are rarely occupied. Ideal for families or those wanting a shorter session, there are a number of readily accessible slipways up and down the river depending on the tide.
Best launch from Warsash Slipway or, directly opposite, Hamble slipway.
Who is it suitable for?
It is designed for paddlers with some experience paddling and knowledge of tide. The upper section of the River Hamble does lose all water at low tide so best to avoid 1.5/2 hours either side of low water. The wind can be harsh so make sure you plan your journey to travel the same direction as the wind on the return route and wrap up warm. On a calm day, it can make a fantastic family outing.
The River Hamble is very unique, a view shared by many, it is full of history, shipwrecks (best seen at low tide). It was the location of, TV show, Howards Way and there is even a crow’s nest from an old navy war ship that has been abandoned. These make the river more than a place to practice skills but a great destination for paddle picnics, sun sets and explorations. Whilst on your paddle, keep an eye out for Sammy the resident seal! Sammy enjoys the sun and swimming alongside vessels in the river mouth. Thinking about a longer journey, one great place to stop, for your halfway break, is the Horse and Jockey. It is a fantastic pub on the river bank that welcomes paddlers throughout the day, but don't forget those dry shoes.
Be careful of the double high tide, a phenomenon that only occurs in 2 locations in the world, the Hamble and Honolulu (Hawaii). Whilst generally clean, this area is close to Southampton Docks, so if it starts to smell you might not want to go for a swim or practise your rolls. Remember tides change incredibly quickly, ensure that you are aware of the times you can paddle and keep yourself (and fellow paddlers) safe. Know the tides.
There is a local pub at the launch site (The Rising Sun Pun) - click here. Why not grab bite to eat before or after your tranquil paddle up the River Hamble.