If boats and coastal scenes are your thing, the famous and historical Hamble marina near Southampton in Hampshire is a great place to head with the camera. Someone once said that the area is like the M25 of the sailing world, and they’re not wrong. As the home of the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), the UK governing body for sailing, powerboating and windsurfing, and the setting of the 1980’s BBC television show, Howard’s Way, it goes without saying that Hamble is a good place to start for all things nautical.
When the sun’s out, it glistens on the rows of yachts, rigging and water. There’s always plenty of activity in the marina, boatyard and at the various sailing clubs – and there’s a plethora of pubs, cafes and restaurants for keeping you fed and watered.
Whilst there are hundreds, if not thousands of boats moored in and around Hamble, you may not get to see much adrenaline-filled, spray-forming action, as the boats pootle, rather than race in and out of marina. For that you’ll need to head further round the coast, or, better still, try and get on a boat to get really up-close and personal.
There are various parking spots offering easy walks to different photo opportunities.
Hamble Point Marina give you boats, a wide stretch of water, views out to Fawley and Calshot in one direction and Warsash in the other. As you head into Hamble, take Copse Lane on your right and follow it round into School Lane. Parking just outside the marina is free – although expect it to get busy during high season.
Go when the tide is out to be able to walk down onto the rocks and pebble shoreline. I was able to walk out quite a distance, although I did have to keep moving to stop my feet sinking! Make sure to take wellies or old shoes – the ground is muddy and it goes without saying to keep an eye on the environment and how far out is safe.
With a view of Fawley Refinery (Exon Mobil are based here and it’s arguably one of the most industrial areas on the Hampshire coast), it’s perhaps not the most idyllic horizon by day. However, wait until sundown for some stunning sunset images with a bit of a difference. The silhouettes are fantastic and with the smoke and the reflections I think it takes some beating.
For yet more yachts, river trips and the Hamble – Warsash water taxi, drive further round into Hamble itself and park in The Square car park (there’s free parking for 30 minutes), or continue down into the Foreshore car park.
The bright pink Hamble – Warsash ferry takes walk-on passengers the short journey across the harbour – good for photos, a bit of fun and means you get to see the coastline from a different angle. Costs as at 12 May 2012 were £1.50 (adult) / £1.00 (child).
The history books tell us that ferry services have operated across this stretch of water since the time of King Henry VII, though I’m guessing the pink paint is a more recent feature!