Subjects : At the end of a narrow 2.5 km natural shingle beach is King Henry VIII's massive fortress, Hurst Castle, built to defend Southampton and the south coast of England from the French. Being within only a short distance from the Isle of Wight, you can really get the feel for and shots of narrowness of the Solent channel here. The castle is squat, sprawling a very powerful feeling. It is open to visitors (who can ONLY get there either by walking the entire length of the shingle beach) or by a small boat ferry, but this only operates during popular tourist seasons. The Castle currently (last visited yesterday!) is under some renovation, so parts closed and some scaffolding. But you can still get the sense of the huge thick walls, massive cannon portals and its strategic positioning.My favourite subject on Hurst Spit (as it is called) is the slender white lighthouse. It makes for an excellent focal point in all sorts of weather and landscape photos, especially in long shots with the Isle of Wight behind. There is a cottage and a few disused decrepit jetties that all make for great photos.However, it is the weather and views that you can witness, experience and photograph on the shingle bank that is the most rewarding - and challenging. Because almost no vehicles drive on it, it is like walking on a steep shingle slope, always slipping, taking much effort, whilst the nearby Needles on the end of the Isle of Wight (great views of them!) is one of the windiest places in the whole of the UK! It is an exhilarating, if exhausting walk.
Recommended equipment : Your usual landscape gear, but probably best weather resistant! I use all lenses, from super wide to ultra tele, there are some bird nature reserves nearby on the coast that may produce some bird subjects, but I would be misleading you if this was a real reason to go.
Best months : For such a long shingle beach, it is better often to feature a walking figure, or two. It is quite popular in summer - but still quite empty in actual terms, though the local narrow roads would get badly jammed at the most popular times.The Castle is only open daily between April and end of October. At other times, the weather would make the walk quite uncomfortable, though, potentially very rewarding, with storms and the sea crashing. The little ferry is quite cheap to travel on, though it docks at a village some distance from where the walk does, but it only operates at popular times (summer, daytime).
How to get there : Hurst is best accessed from Milford on Sea, about 10 km west of Lymington, where there is a train station. There are a few pay carparks within easy access to the start of the shingle Spit.