Hampshire is a county of growth – with new commercial and residential developments springing up all over. So maybe you visit a place one year only to return and find new buildings and roads in its place.
Luckily, there are many spots, however, that remain unchanged. In this article, we share one of our favourites on the Solent near Titchfield: Chilling. It’s amazing for us to visit as a family and do the same walks and activities I did as a child.

Chilling is a nostalgic walk

Experiencing that sense of continuity, tradition and familiarity is particularly enjoyable at Meon Shore, although one notable landmark, Fawley Power Station’s Chimney is now missing from the view over the water. There are a few ways to access and enjoy the area – either parking next to or cycling to Meon Shore along the country lanes, or walking to the coast via different footpaths, including one from Titchfield village that runs next to the Titchfield Canal. We are going to focus on the walk from the small Chilling Car Park (PO14 4HH) to the shoreline and around.

We enjoyed this trip in the daytime and evening towards sunset, in winter and summer. The car park is in a small, wooded area, and can get busy. Taking the small footpath south of the car park takes you over a small wooden bridge to the edge of a large field. A pathway runs between two fields to the cliff path next to the shore in ten to fifteen minutes. It can be quite bumpy and muddy.

Walking along the path you may hear the regular ‘pfff’ of bird scarers going off, which some dogs don’t like! On different years you will see a variety of crops growing; we have seen sweetcorn, for example. As you approach the end of the path and the stile you will catch glimpses of the sea between the hedges and may find the children running in excitement towards it.

Don’t miss out on the pebble beach

From the cliff tops, you can see a wide vista of the Solent and the Isle of Wight and it’s rare not to see a wide variety of boats on the water. Gulls and other seabirds of course. Depending on whether the tide is out, and if does go out quite a long way, there will probably be groups of waders picking their way through the mud and stones. You may also see people digging for worms etc for fishing. The beach is pebbly but a great place for searching for shells and flotsam such as interesting, weathered wood.

If it’s summer, you can decide whether you want to swim in the water – we regularly swim from the beach, but recent pollution concerns may mean you prefer not to. There are usually dogs in the water and embracing their freedom. Even a paddle is fun, though, and there are patches of sand for building castles. The cliffs and bushes can provide shelter for a picnic and relaxation, especially if it’s windy.

Chilling offers activities galore

Apart from the beach, there are lots of nearby activities. These include pick-your-own strawberries in early Summer from Steve Harris PYO, an annual tradition for us. The family farm has been in the area for nearly ninety years and seasonal picking includes sunflowers and pumpkins. There is easy parking but crucially the strawberries are plentiful and tasty and it’s hard not to buy too many to take home.

Heading east on Meon Shore you pass a community of semi-residential beach huts, how lucky to own one of these. Behind the beach is Titchfield Haven Nature Reserve. With an area of 369 acres, it has a variety of natural habitats including rivers, fen, pools, reedbeds, and meadows. These are home to a wide range of birds, and other wildlife such as water voles and plants. The reserve is managed by Hampshire Countryside Service. Different bird species flock to the area at different times of year such as golden plover in the winter. There are different ways you can experience the Haven, from guided walks to volunteering.

Other activities at this end of the shore include fishing from the bridge, crabbing and walking along the foreshore of Hill Head towards Lee-on-Solent. If you are looking for refreshments there is usually a mobile unit on the beach next to the public toilets, the Osborne View Pub on the beach side or cafes along Hill Head Road.

From a short walk to a full day out

The area offers so much for simple seaside and country pleasures all in one, from a simple stroll along the sea walls to a full day out. The laid-back atmosphere and ever-changing seascapes evoke times past to be enjoyed today.

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