Come and discover one of the best day’s out in the New Forest with a day trip to Hurst Castle.
Located at the seaward end of a spit commanding the entrance to the Solent, means getting to the castle is the start of your adventure! Access is either a leisurely ferry ride from Keyhaven, where there’s the chance to spot the abundant wildlife as you meander down the Keyhaven river, or a 2-mile walk along Hurst Spit, where you can enjoy the fantastic views either side of the spit. Many visitors walk out and catch the ferry back, but the choice is yours.
Once at the castle there is lots of explore! From the Tudor keep basement, which was used for storing food, fuel, weapons and gunpowder and by the 17th century was a great place for storing smuggled contraband, to the vast West wing where you’ll find The Garrison Theatre, thought to be the last surviving theatre constructed by the garrison. The castle, however, is best understood from the Top of the Tudor keep where you are also offered one of the best views in England – it really is the perfect place to make memories this summer.
With so much to see and do it’s a must visit on your list of things to do in the New Forest.
October 2022 has seen the next phase of conservation begin at Hurst Castle with work to strengthen the counterscarp wall in front of the south bastion, as well as geotechnical investigations taking place.
The counterscarp wall was initially built to define a shingle ditch in front of the castle’s keep, but due to coastal change, it now forms an important part of the sea defences. As part of English Heritage’s ongoing programme of work at Hurst Castle, the charity has commissioned repairs to strengthen the wall and help protect the castle from the impact of wave action, ahead of the winter storms.
With teams working tirelessly since the partial collapse at Hurst Castle in 2021, 22,000 tonnes of shingle and rock armour has been transported along the spit to protect the east wing and a permanent revetment sea defence engineered to provide protection for the next 50 years has been completed. As part of this next phase, English Heritage has commissioned specialist contractors Socotec UK to conduct extensive geotechnical investigations around the castle and on the spit itself.
These investigations will look into understanding the forces at work on this exposed shingle causeway and the geology under the castle, and is essential in informing the best course of action with regards to the future repair of the breach. A range of techniques will be employed (including Hand Digging, Cable Percussion, Rotary Coring, Trial Pitting and Concrete Coring) to assess the ground conditions under the east and west wing castle walls, looking at the structural integrity of the existing foundations.
Whilst English Heritage is pleased to be able to proceed with this next stage, we must stress that there can be no quick fix to the complex issues facing the castle, from sea level rise to climate change. However, the conservation work and investigations we are conducting will prove invaluable for future protection of the historic structure.
Hurst Castle has been named to the 2022 World Monuments Watch, a selection of 25 heritage sites of worldwide significance whose preservation is urgent and vital to the communities surrounding them. These sites powerfully demonstrate pressing global challenges of climate change, imbalanced tourism, underrepresentation, and recovery from crisis, underscoring the need for greater action to support heritage places and the people who care for them. You can view the full list of 2022 Watch sites here.
Bird spotting notes
Hope you had a good Christmas.
Here are a few notes from a recent visit.
Most of the winter visitors are with us now.
Brent Gs – around 950 counted across the patch; mainly in one huge flock that can be seen feeding in the farmer’s field east of New Lane.
Shelduck – 10 counted at Hurst.
Wigeon – around 65 in one main flock on the marsh
Teal – approx. 80 on the marsh
Red-breasted Merganser – 5 feeding in Mount Lake.
Great Crested Grebe – 5 feeding in the estuary.
Spoonbill – 9 seen with 8 in one group feeding together in the estuary. A good number.
Little Egret – 6 across the patch.
Oystercatcher – 28 counted across the area.
Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Curlew, Turnstone and Redshank all present in small numbers.
Knot – a small group of around 40 feeding in the estuary.
Dunlin – a total of around 800 in the creeks near Hurst in two main flocks.
Greenshank – 1 feeding near New Lane Bridge.
Common Gull – 5 seen in Mount Lake.
Raven – 2 seen at the Castle.
Kind regards and a Happy New Year.
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