Hayling Island is a true island, completely surrounded by sea. Looking at its north to south orientation, it is shaped like an inverted T, about 6.5 kilometres (4.0 mi) long and 6.5 kilometres (4.0 miles) wide. A road bridge connects its northern end to the mainland of England at Langstone. A small foot-passenger ferry connects to the Eastney area of the city of Portsmouth on the neighbouring island of Portsea Island. To the west is Langstone Harbour and to the east is Chichester Harbour.
The natural beach at Hayling was predominantly sandy, but in recent years it has been mechanically topped with shingle dredged from the bed of the Solent in an effort to reduce beach erosion and reduce the potential to flood low-lying land. At low tide, the East Winner sandbank is visible, extending a mile out to sea.
Climate: Hayling Island experiences a maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters. Temperatures have never fallen into double figures below freezing, illustrating the relative warmth of the Island – comparable to the far South West of England and its neighbour, the Isle of Wight.
The name Langstone comes from Lang (compare the High German “lang”) meaning “Long”, and Stone. The ‘Long-stone’ in this context refers to the quay at Langstone used to serve Hayling Island and Havant before the road Bridge was built.
A historic Causeway & Bridleway to Hayling Island exists – The Wadeway – however it is now completely impassable, having been cut in two by a deep channel for the Portsmouth and Chichester Canal in the 1820s, the same company having subsequently funded the old wooden road bridge, served by a toll-house situated at the northern end.
Langstone Bridge is the only road connection from Hayling Island to the mainland.
To the west of the road bridge the remains of the former railway bridge are visible – where the old Hayling Billy steam train connected the Hayling Holiday Camps to Havant Station and from there, direct to London.
Langstone Harbour lies to the west, Chichester Harbour to the east, these are two of the harbours that make up the 3 Harbours Coastal Rowing Community – Portsmouth Harbour being the other. You can row across all three harbours – with care under the road and rail brides connecting Portsmouth Island
Langstone Village boasts 2 pubs. Sitting outside the Royal Oak or the Ship Inn on a summer’s day with the tide in is a favourite pastime; In the winter the Salting’s and mudflats provide rich food for wildlife and the sights and bird life in the 3 Harbours attract a great deal of interest for bird watchers and walkers alike.
Flooding can be a problem in the village, on occasion with water right up to the main Langstone Road, and many buildings on Langstone High Street have slots for wooden barriers on their door frames, and stack up sandbags.
Houses in the terrace on Langstone High Street date back to the 18th century and a number are thatched. The Old Mill is the remains of both a Water Mill, fed by the now mill, now duck, pond, and a windmill. This was home over the years to Neville Shute the novelist) and painters Flora Twort and Richard Joicey.
The village used to have rail links with Hayling Island and Havant in the form of the Hayling Billy railway – with a little steam engine, however the lines have since been torn up and the route is used as a cycle and bridleway.
Langstone & Hayling Island boast 2 large and successful traditional Coastal Rowing Clubs:
Langstone Cutters Rowing Club (www.langstonecutters.com) is celebrating its 20th year in 2018 and rows from alongside the Royal Oak. Over 90 Members in 2017 enjoyed rowing the 4 oared and sculling boats including Solent Galleys, Teifi and Claydon Skiffs.
While primarily a recreational rowing Club for all, it also has a race pedigree – winning over 30 trophies in the Great River Race to date; winning the inaugural London to Paris Rowing Race in 20188 in the record time of 96 hours; winning trophies in Cork Ocean to City, Netley and the Hamble River Raid. Currently holds the record for fastest men’s and fastest ladies rowing a fixed seat Solent Galley around the Isle of Wight.
LCRC is the host Club for the Round Hayling Rowing Race.
Langstone Pilot Gig Club (www. langstonepilotgigclub.co.uk)
The Langstone Pilot Gig Club started on 1st January 2013 by a small group of Langstone Cutters Rowing Club Members keen to develop Coastal Rowing in a competitive way using Cornish Pilot Gigs. Affiliated to the CPGA, LPGC is a successful Club with over 130 members and a strong Juniors section.
Langstone Pilot Gig Club is Hampshire’s first Cornish Pilot Gig Club and we have been introducing gig rowing and racing to our local community since 2013. Based at Northney Marina on Hayling Island and row year-round in the beautiful waters of Chichester and Langstone Harbours. LCGC is a host Club for the RHRR.
Our membership race in regattas throughout the summer, and in the World Pilot Gig Championships held in the Isles of Scilly. Langstone Pilot Gig Club represents Hampshire in gig rowing regattas along the Jurassic coast and into Devon and Cornwall.
As well as the fitness and competitive side, and the joy of being out in the fresh air year-round, our members enjoy the camaraderie of being part of a team, both in and out of the boat. In addition, we have an excellent programme of social events which are always well attended by our members and their families.
3 HARBOURS ROWING: New in 2018 is the 3 Harbours Rowing Network and Festival see www.3harboursrowing.org
The 3 Harbours Rowing Website brings together all the Clubs and Rowing activities across Chichester, Langstone and Portsmouth Harbours. Working with the Chichester Federation (https://www.chifed.org/) it includes links to all the rowing Clubs and Sailing Clubs with Rowing Facilities in the Harbour.
There are plans for 3 Harbours Rowing Rally on May 1st – but at this time the event is under review. For information on this contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spectators can enjoy the proceedings of the Round Hayling Rowing Race at 3 key points:
The Start off Northney Marina; where the groups of boats set-off in clusters.
The entrance to Langstone Harbour – from the Café or Ferryboat Inn the boats will pass very close as they start the last leg up towards the Langstone Bridge.
The Hayling Bay – Sea Front – here the boats tend to stay off shore to catch the tide – if it’s rough some will come inside the bay to pass closer – best spot is the Inn on the Beach.
The turn at Eastoke Point by the RNLI station and Haying Island Sailing Club – where the boats pass within a stone’s throw of the beach.
The Road Bridge and Railway Bridge Abutments can be used to cheer the crews as they head for the line.
Finish off Northney Marina; where the crews surge across line and ‘collapse’ and come ashore!
A Special Place for Wildlife: Chichester Harbour is internationally important for birds and for its coastal habitats. Wetlands, including coastal areas, are one of the most threatened and diminishing habitats internationally.
A huge variety of plants and animals live in and around the harbour. Some are hidden in the mud, or are underwater, so it’s not immediately obvious what is there. Others are very easy to see. On any walk or sail around the harbour, you are sure to see some wildlife.
The harbour has an average of 52,500 waterfowl each year. That makes it the most important single site on the south coast of England for these birds.
It has internationally important numbers of 5 species of wildfowl and waders; it is nationally important for at least 8 further species.
A number of nationally rare species of plants grow here, including orchids and plants that thrive in saltwater.
An area of mudflat similar to that occupied by a dinghy could hold 40,000 tiny Laver spire shells, 60,000 Corophium shrimps, 50,000 Baltic Tellin shellfish or up to 500 Ragworms.
There are underwater slippers, spiders and peacocks (limpets, crabs and worms), dahlias, carrots and gooseberries (anemones, sponges and sea squirts)!
Around 20 Harbour Seals live in the Solent and regularly visit Chichester Harbour.
There are at least 9 different habitats including saltmarsh, sand dunes and mudflats.
Chichester Harbour has been given several designations as international, European and national level in recognition of the significance of the wildlife of the harbour.
HAYLING SEAFRONT – WINDSURFING & KITESURFING
Hayling Island’s connection with windsurfing and Kitesurfing is a long and fruitful one. When young Peter Chilvers attached a freely rotating mast and sail to a makeshift board in 1958 he set in motion a chain of events that still resonates today. Back then Pete’s chosen windsurfing area was close to Fishery Creek – these days you can find windsurfers out having a blast anywhere there’s watery access.
West Beachlands continues to be the most popular launch option – due in part to waves that rumble across the sand bar at the mouth of Langstone Harbour (at certain times of year). When swells disappear the sand bank provides a shallow and flat low tide sailing area – during summer months this can resemble windsurfing and Kitesurfing locations of much warmer climes.
‘Esso Beach’, as it’s commonly referred to by windsurfers, is located next to the oyster beds on the island’s Langstone Harbour flank. Look for the Esso petrol station (hence the nickname) and it’s directly behind. A high tide spot Esso Beach is mellower than sailing off the seafront as a shingle bank blocks the majority of chop making the water flatter. A haven for beginners, intermediates and freestylers Esso Beach can get quite busy – especially during windy summer weekends.
Members of Hayling Island Sailing Club have access to Chichester Harbour windsurfing and Northney Marina slipway still attracts a few sailors for high tide sessions.
Kitesurfers launch from the beach in front of Hayling Island Golf Club and due care should be given when riders are blasting back and forth. Knowing rules of the road is important but in all cases simply stay out of harm’s way and harmony will remain.
LANGSTONE HARBOUR – MULBERY & BILLY LINE
For much of its history the harbour has been an area of salt production. The Domesday Book records three salterns around the harbour and by the early 17th century a saltern at Copner was well established. Here a large shallow area of the harbour meant that even without further improvement salt could be extracted from the area after each tide. The Copner saltern ceased production in 1800 but salt production continued elsewhere in the harbour until 1933.
In 1771 Farlington Marshes were reclaimed from the north of the harbour.
Broadmarsh Coastal Park is reclaimed land, built when the A27 was expanded in the late 20th century.
Oyster farming began in the harbour around 1820 with Winkle and Clam cultivation probably starting around much the same time. Production ceased in the 1950s. An attempt at Oyster farming in the 1980’s soon failed. In 1997 work began to turn the remains of the old Oyster beds into an artificial lagoon. The lagoon which has a small island at the centre has, as planned, become a breeding ground for birds, particularly Little Terns.
Mulberry: The large concrete structure of the Mulberry Harbour remains are highly visible near the mouth of the Harbour. This historically significant structure is a ‘Type Phoenix Unit’ and was part of a caisson built to form part of the outer breakwater for the Harbour at Arromanches in Normandy in support of the D-Day landings.
At the entrance to Langstone Harbour stands Fort Cumberland, although the cunning design of this structure means you are unlikely to notice it. Fort Cumberland is a pentagonal artillery fortification erected to guard the entrance to Langstone Harbour, east of the Dockyard of Portsmouth on the south coast of England. It was sited to protect the Royal Navy Dockyard, by preventing enemy forces from landing in Langstone Harbour and attacking from the landward side. Fort Cumberland is widely recognised as the finest example of a bastion trace fort in England.