Inglewood Cottage to Barton on Sea - An afternoon walk with a View
April 10. 2020
In these uncertain and indeed stressful times, take a walk with me through the avenues of New Milton down to the clifftop and back through the maze of roads in Barton on Sea. Along the way the route offers tree-lined avenues, traditional seaside bungalows, houses from the 1930s and earlier, and new builds scattered unobtrusively amongst all the history.
I begin from outside the cottage on Inglewood Drive, where the trees are starting to come into leaf and the cherry blossom is already in bloom, so it already feels like a walk in the countryside. As we live on the corner adjacent to the cottage, I know the roads well which take me to the Lymington Road - passing the tennis club where my son has lessons and the while painted cottages dotted amongst later dwellings in this small enclave away from what would be the normal bustle of the small high street just a few minutes away.
At the junction of Becton Lane, I paused.... there's a new signpost (replacing the ramshackle single post) pointing towards the sea but not disclosing it's actually there!). Stating Becton, this is an area to the east of Barton on Sea, so named after Becton Farm or "Beccas Farm".
I took Becton Lane, making my way along the full length of the lane gaining ground to the sea, with many tall trees not yet in leaf, but dignified with silent restraint at my side. The lane merges seamlesslyover Barton Common Road and I'm nearly at the cliff but there's a dip in the landscape, which obscures any view you think you might be about to have of the sea. To my right I pass by Barton Meadows - quiet and still today, with a stream flowing through the culvert and across the meadow.
As I come up out of the dip, the spectacular view doesn't disappoint me, no matter how many times I've seen it. Today it's a little misty due to the heat haze, but straight ahead of me the Isle of Wight with the Needles erupting out of the sea are always a welcome glorious sight. There's a few people walking the clifftop but none of the usual tourists for a sunny Good Friday, so that it feels both strange but also a privilege to be here.
I walk towards the edge of the grass knowing there is a steep drop and bearing in mind that cliff falls are likely, so take care not to get too close. I squint to get a better view of the Needles, but the sea mist means it's just not to be today.
So, I set off along the clifftop heading west, stopping with a good distance between us to chat briefly with a lady sitting in the wooden shelter who has had the misfortune to crack a rib recently - but she was still throwing a ball for her dog and enjoying the sunshine. People are always willing to spend a moment to have a chat at the seafront.
I continue on my journey, today not going down the slope to the beach, but indulging in a cheeky ice cream from the newsagent who is still open, with a protective screen for making purchases at the till.
I've passed by the Beachcomber Café which is silent today - usually a hub-bub of noise would be coming from the garden on such a sunny day.
Taking the coastal road stretching further to the west, I'm looking out towards Hengistbury Head and Christchurch Harbour. I can just make out the beach huts at Mudeford Spit - oh, to be able to afford one of those and wave back to everyone at Barton on Sea, but they are amongst the most expensive in the country!
It was time to turn my back to the sea and take the aptly named "Sea Road", heading north towards home. I stop to admire the architecture of the 3 storey newer houses built to take advantage of the views out to the English Channel and the Isle of Wight.
Before turning right to wend my way through the maze of the seaside typical Barton streets which serve to confuse the walker as they twist and turn, I spot a summerhouse with an open door - the epitome of my day - putting a smile on my face and making my tired feet feel able to get me safely home.