UK National Cycle Route 23: Part 3 - Southampton to Eastleigh, Hampshire Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

UK National Cycle Route 23: Part 3 - Southampton to Eastleigh, Hampshire

0 Conversations

The shield of the Sport and Leisure faculty of the h2g2 University.
UK National Cycle Route 23
Introduction | Sandown to East Cowes, Isle of Wight
Southampton to Eastleigh, Hampshire | Eastleigh to Alresford, Hampshire via Winchester
Alresford to Basingstoke, Hampshire | Basingstoke, Hampshire to Reading, Berkshire

A bicycle on National Cycle Route 23 in Riverside Park, Southampton

National Cycle Route 23 is part of the UK's National Cycle Network. It takes cyclists from the picturesque seaside resort of Sandown on the Isle of Wight to Reading in Berkshire, the route covering just over 80 miles in total. This Entry describes the second section of the route, an easy, fairly flat and quiet 10-mile trip from Southampton to Eastleigh, Hampshire. It can easily be cycled in an hour at a leisurely speed of 10mph.

This is the most urban section of National Cycle Route 23. After the Isle of Wight's Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Nature Reserves, the back streets and industrial estates of the city of Southampton provide quite a contrast. There are, however, nice sections of the route, some of which do not smell of seaweed or sewage. It is perhaps the easiest section of the route to get to, accessible from four railway stations, three motorway junctions, two ferries that carry bicycles and an international airport.

Getting to the Start of the Route from the Station

Perhaps the easiest way of getting to Southampton, other than by car or from the ferry from the Isle of Wight, is by train. Many trains calling at Southampton Central railway station allow bicycles to be carried. To get from Southampton Central to the start of the route outside the Isle of Wight Ferry Terminal, exit Southampton Central on the exit next to Platform 4. Follow Western Esplanade east, then before it ascends the hill turn right into the road going southeast, which is also called Western Esplanade. You should pass the coach station on your right, following the road round. At the roundabout turn left onto Harbour Parade and at the next roundabout turn right into a continuation of Harbour Parade, before passing the West Quay Retail Park. At the junction, turn left onto an on-pavement cycle path that leads along West Quay Road (A3057), passing Ikea, the Carnival headquarters, De Vere Grand Harbour Hotel, and the Quays Swimming Pool. Continue straight ahead at the roundabout onto Town Quay, passing the Mediæval Wool House on the left before seeing the Isle of Wight ferry terminal on your right, and the start of the cycle route.

Attractions En Route

This section of the route of National Cycle Route 23 travels close to several points of interest. These include:

Signs and Maps

Although you can follow the signs, it is recommended that you take an up-to-date Ordnance Survey1 map with you. For this section you can use Outdoor Leisure 22 New Forest, which just covers this area and some of the Eastleigh to Winchester section, or Landranger Map 185 which also covers the route heading to Basingstoke. The maps show the route as a red or orange2 dotted line clearly labelled with '23' in a rectangle.

The Route

The section of the route described here starts at the Isle of Wight ferry and ends where the route turns away from the town of Eastleigh, close to where Eastleigh Borough Council's district ends and Winchester City Council district begins. Shortly after passing the Boyatt Wood Retail Park and Industrial Estate, National Cycle Route 23 suddenly changes from an urban to a rural character, bringing this section to a natural close.

From the Ferry to Cobden Bridge

For the first part of this section, National Cycle Route 23 coincides with National Cycle Route 23 heading east. Start at the Hythe Ferry in Town Quay, Southampton where the Red Funnel passenger ferry from Cowes disembarks. From the car ferry, walk your bike northeast out of the car park to Town Quay, the section that is a pier, opposite the Watergate section of the Mediæval Walls and the end of the Southampton QE2 Mile. From here, turn right and head east along Town Quay (A3057) passing God's House Tower, the Southampton Archaeology Museum, on your left as well as the walled Southampton Old Bowling Green, the oldest bowling green in the world.

Follow the road's one-way system left around Queen's Park northeast into Orchard Place and then right along Queen's Terrace before turning left (east) along Canute Road4. Cross the level crossing close to the former Southampton Terminus railway station5 before turning left (north) into Royal Crescent. Pass behind Solent Sky, the Southampton Hall of Aviation, before turning right (northeast) into Saltmarsh Road. Before the roundabout, cross the road, go down the cycle path and turn left into the subway beneath Itchen Bridge6 and then take the subway on the left (northwest), leaving National Cycle Route 2 behind.

Follow the cycle path to Anderson's Road and head north, crossing Anglesea Terrace and Chapel Road as the road changes name to Paget Street and Melbourne Street. Follow the road as it turns left, then right, and continue north to the end of the road to St Mary's Football Stadium, home of Southampton Football Club. Follow the green segregated cycle path close to the freight railway line with the stadium7 on your right. The cycle path skirts close to the gasometer on the right before turning left (north) beneath Northam Road through the subway. At the subway's end, follow the cycle path and take the first road on the left (north), Radcliffe Road.

Radcliffe Road is part of a Home Zone scheme to encourage inner city children to play in the road and so has several speed bumps and chicanes to navigate. There are some sculptures on display along this section, including representations of weather, ships and a man holding an axe. On the right you will pass Northam Doorstep Park, a small park with a nautical theme8, and on the left you will pass the Radcliffe Road allotments. Continue to head north, leaving the Home Zone, until reaching the roundabout shortly before the level crossing. Turn right at the roundabout into the Mount Pleasant Industrial Estate. The pile of rubble on your right used to be the Meridian Television Studios. Turn left (west) into the industrial estate and follow the road round to the north and head to the end, looking out for a gap and a tarmac path on the right hand side by the tall metal fence. Take this path that leads down to the River Itchen.

At the end of this path turn left (west) and follow the tarmac riverside path as it turns north and follow the riverside boardwalk along next to the railway track. The Itchen is a tidal river and although this area is very pleasant and picturesque at high tide, at low tide the area is less picturesque, with shopping trolleys visible on the mud, accompanied by an aroma of seaweed. At the end of the boardwalk, follow the tarmac path up the slope and then turn right (east) downhill into Horseshoe Bridge, passing the St Denys Community Centre on the left. (St Denys Station is a short distance north of here along Adelaide Road, but is not actually passed by the cycle route.) At the junction, turn right (northeast) into Priory Road. Follow this, passing beneath a railway bridge, until the traffic-light-controlled junction with St Denys Road. If the traffic lights are against you, take advantage of the Advanced Stop Line and when green, turn right (east) to head over Cobden Bridge.

Cobden Bridge to Mansbridge: Riverside Park

Cross the bridge over the Itchen. Shortly before the toucan crossing9 traffic lights and the distinctive Bitterne Park clock tower10 is the entrance way to Riverside Park on your left (north). Enter the park, descending the steep slope with care and follow the segregated cycle path north along the edge of the River Itchen.

Riverside Park at high tide is one of the prettiest areas of Southampton, especially on a sunny summer Sunday afternoon when the steam trains are running in the Bitterne Park Miniature Railway and swans and ducks are swimming. It has cricket pitches, tennis courts, football pitches, an 18-hole golf course, three playgrounds and a skate park as well as the Woodmill Outdoor Activities Centre, from which canoes can be hired. It is also very popular with dog walkers, many of whom, despite the width of the park, insist on walking their dogs on the cycle path. There are two drawbacks that mean that Riverside Park is not quite as lovely as it should be. At low tide the park can smell of seaweed, though not as strongly as the area by the boardwalk, and the river loses its picturesque aspect when replaced with mud banks. The other drawback is that on the other side of the river is the Portswood Waste Water Treatment Works, a sewage treatment plant that does, on occasions, contribute a drifting aroma to the area.

Follow the cycle path around the outskirts of the park next to the river side. After a curve to the right, the cycle path becomes an unsegregated shared-use footpath and cycleway, so take extra care to avoid dog walkers. As the park nears Woodmill Lane, take the first path on your left down the slope to the pavement, and turn right along the pavement, away from the Woodmill building. Woodmill is the start of the Itchen Navigation Heritage Trail to Winchester. Although Riverside Park continues over the road, the riverside section is a footpath and is a no-cycling area.

Follow Woodmill Lane east along the pavement until the cycle path ends shortly before the roundabout. Cross the road and go straight ahead at the first roundabout, turn left at the second roundabout, heading northeast into Forest Hills Drive. As the road curves east you will see a Grade II Listed Water Fountain built in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

Take the first left into River Walk, continuing northeast. This is a pleasant shaded road beneath an arcade of trees, although cyclists should be aware that a Driving Test Centre is located nearby and this road is consequently popular with learner drivers, who often practise emergency stops and other manoeuvres.

As River Walk curves east, turn left and zig-zag through the gate back into Riverside Park. If cycling this next stretch in the dark, take extra caution, and consider dismounting and walking, or you may end up in the river! At the end of the path, just before you reach the river, take the path on the right and head north until you see a raised bridge on your left. This is the Mansbridge canal bridge, dating from the time of the Itchen Navigation Canal between Southampton and Winchester, and is a Grade II Listed Building. After crossing over Mansbridge follow the path northwest.

Mansbridge to Southampton Airport: Canal to Air

Follow the path northwest away from the River Itchen as it curves to the right. Just before the path becomes the pavement to the A27 Mansbridge Road take the path on the left and go onto Itchenside Close heading west away from the A27: although traffic is not allowed enter this road from the A27, it is not a one-way street. You may cycle in a westward direction along it. Head up the hill and at the top, turn left (west) into Robert Cecil Avenue.

At the end of the avenue, turn left into Octavia Road followed by the first right (west) into Claude Ashby Close. Follow this road until the end, then turn right (north) into Monks Way and then left (west) into Brookside Way. At the end of Brookside Way, take the path northwest and turn right (north) before Monks Brook, following the path through the woods north to the roundabout with Wide Lane. At time of writing (2013), cyclists need to dismount in order to unlock and open a heavy gate on this path.

At the roundabout, cross Wide Lane so that you are on the north side of it, then head northeast along it away from the roundabout. The pavement here is a shared-use footpath and cycle way. Pass the Ford Transit factory on your right and several hangar buildings that used to be part of Southampton Airport until the construction of the M27 reduced the size of the airport by a third.

The statue of a Spitfire that sits on a roundabout outside the entrance to Southampton Airport.

You will leave Southampton and enter the Borough of Eastleigh shortly before passing beneath the M27 motorway bridge, very close to Junction 5. After the bridge, head up the slope to the end of the pavement and cross the road shortly after the statue of the prototype Spitfire, which first flew from Eastleigh (now known as Southampton) Airport on 11 May, 1936. Having crossed the road, continue north uphill on the cycle path pavement on the right of Wide Lane over the bridge over the railway line. This section of the route is poorly signed and the pavement is narrow and bumpy. Shortly after the crest of the hill, cross the inlet into the airport car park and follow the pavement left (west) around the car park, avoiding the busy roundabout leading from the motorway and the A335. Cross the A335 Wide Lane outside the main entrance to Southampton Airport Parkway station at the toucan crossing and continue northeast along the west side of Wide Lane.

Southampton Airport to Fleming Park

Head northeast up Wide Lane, passing the University of Southampton's Wide Lane sports ground, and then turn left (west) into Doncaster Drove, the road leading to the sign-posted Eastleigh Lakeside Country Park. Follow this road west, passing the café, gift shop and platform for Eastleigh Lakeside Railway, which is open every weekend throughout the year and every day during the school summer holiday period. The track is a mile and a quarter in length and has three rails, allowing it to operate both 10¼-inch gauge and 7¼-inch gauge engines on its miniature railway, which is one of the finest miniature railways in Hampshire. Eastleigh Lakeside Country Park has lakes where licensed fishing is permitted, and water sports such as canoeing and sailing are available, as well as model boat racing, areas dedicated to wildlife, and a bike trail around the lakes. People cycling through the country park are highly likely to see wildlife such as coneys and rabbits, swans and ducks.

Continue to the end of the road, passing through the car park, and go through the signposted gap in the low narrow wooden fence onto a gravel path. This is part of the Eastleigh Lakeside Country Park's Paw Trail for dog walking. At the end of the gravel path, follow the road right (west). You will shortly have a choice of route over Monks Brook. Most cyclists would take the footbridge on the right over the brook, although experienced cyclists may choose to cycle through the ford across the brook. This is normally shallow and safe, but it can get turbulent and deep during and following heavy rainfall. The ford is also frequently used by land rovers and similar off road vehicles, so ensure that it is not busy when using it. After crossing Monks Brook, head right a short distance on the pavement to the toucan crossing. Cross Stoneham Lane and then cross Old Stoneham Lane in front of you.

Head north up Stoneham Lane on the pavement on the west side; this is an unsegregated shared-use cycleway and footpath that runs next to Avenue Park. At the toucan crossing just before the roundabout, cross Stoneham Lane again to the east side. Head north a short distance and take the path on the right onto a short unnamed close, heading towards a charming thatched cottage. Head north up the quiet road and before Chestnut Avenue turn right (east) onto the pavement, and cross Chestnut Avenue in front of another thatched cottage. Follow the pavement, which is a cycleway, around the corner into Magpie Lane and rejoin the road heading north. After passing a 'Cyclists Crossing' sign shortly before the junction with Nightingale Avenue, cross Magpie Lane onto the right-hand pavement, which is a cycleway and footpath, and then cross Nightingale Avenue onto the pavement, heading right (east) as this too is a cycleway and footpath. This should take you around the south side of Fleming Park.

Fleming Park to Matthew's Way

Fleming Park is one of the main parks in Eastleigh. It has a Leisure Centre with swimming pool and gym etc, in addition to sports pitches, skate park, playground, a sand pit and paddling pool. It is at Fleming Park that National Cycle Route 2411 begins. At the former golf pavilion, known as the Pavilion on the Park, they operate a Bicycles For All scheme on Saturday mornings. Bicycles and tricycles designed to be used by people with difficulties balancing, using their limbs or simply inexperienced and lacking confidence can be hired for a small sum.

Follow Nightingale Avenue's pavement east to the end of the road, and then turn left and follow the pavement north-northeast up beside Passfield Avenue. After crossing Kornwestheim Way, the main road leading to the leisure centre's main car parks, cyclists are led naturally off the shared-use cycleway and footpath onto a cycle lane on Passfield Avenue just before the junction with the dual carriageway A335 Leigh Road. This junction is close to Junction 13 of the M3, which leads onto the A335, and the A335 on the right heads east into Eastleigh town centre and to Eastleigh railway station12.

Cross the A335 continuing north along the cycle lane up Woodside Avenue. Be aware that Woodside Lane is the location of a haulage company who frequently operate lorries, many of which do not pay as much attention to cyclists as they should. You will pass the Boyatt Wood Retail Park on your left and, shortly after, the Woodside Avenue Household Waste Recycling Centre, a tip or dump, on your right. Pass beneath the railway bridge and Woodside Road, and follow the cycle lane as it mounts the pavement to become a shared-use cycleway and footpath near the haulage company's headquarters in the Boyatt Wood Industrial Estate. Follow the pavement around the Woodside Avenue Roundabout, crossing Goodward Road. Where Woodside Avenue continues northeast from the roundabout, the cycle path separates from the road and continues parallel to it.

This pavement is the start of Matthew's Way, a cycle path named after a school child who died in a road accident before the cycleway was constructed. This cycle path is a pleasant tree-lined avenue a short distance from the road. Pass beneath the footbridge and cross over Launceston Drive. The cycle path begins to slope uphill as you follow Matthew's Way through the trees, crossing a road named Bosville, and the cycleway then leads out into the open, unshaded pavement next to Woodside Avenue again. After a short distance, Matthew's Way naturally turns away from Woodside Avenue13 to a cycle path on the left. This leads immediately onto Lewes Close, a quiet road that heads northwest. From here, take the short cycle path, the last link of Matthew's Way, uphill heading towards the electricity pylon. Stop and cross Bosville again into Boyatt Lane, a country lane leading northwest.

This is the end of this urban section of National Cycle Route 23.

Read about the next section - National Cycle Route 23: Part 4 - Alresford to Basingstoke, Hampshire

UK National Cycle Route 23
Introduction | Sandown to East Cowes, Isle of Wight
Southampton to Eastleigh, Hampshire | Eastleigh to Alresford, Hampshire via Winchester
Alresford to Basingstoke, Hampshire | Basingstoke, Hampshire to Reading, Berkshire
1Ordnance Survey is the official British mapping organisation. They have been mapping the UK since 1790, initially for military purposes for the Board of Ordnance, the equivalent of the Ministry of Defence, to assist the defence of Britain in case of an enemy invasion.2The colour of the dotted line depends on the type of map. It is usually red on Landranger maps, orange on Outdoor Leisure and Explorer maps. See the key on the relevant OS map.3National Cycle Route 2 will go from Dover, Kent to St Austell, Cornwall, via Folkestone, Rye, Hastings, Brighton, Worthing, Chichester, Portsmouth, Southampton, Christchurch, Bournemouth, Dorchester, Seaton, Exmouth, Exeter, Newton Abbot, Totnes, Plymouth, and Looe. The Southampton section goes from the Itchen Bridge to the Hythe Ferry.4Named after King Cnut who was crowned in Southampton in 1016 and is said to have told the tide not to come in around this area.5This was open to the public between 1840 and 1966 and served passengers travelling to the docks, including the passengers travelling on board the RMS Titanic. The remaining station building is built in the Italianate style and is a Grade II* Listed Building.6The Itchen Bridge is the replacement for Southampton's floating bridge and, despite promises to the contrary during construction, is a toll bridge for motorised transport, although not for pedestrians and cyclists. Immediately on completion, the Itchen Bridge became Southampton's most popular suicide spot, an unforeseen consequence of replacing the charming floating bridge with a concrete eyesore.7When the stadium was completed in 2001, Southampton FC intended to re-open the former Northam railway station (1839-40, 1872-1966) here and operate park and ride schemes to allow football fans to travel by rail to the stadium. South West Trains refused to allow this, claiming that the railway line is too busy with freight.8Northam Doorstep Park has been a play area since the Second World War when a bomb demolished the house on the site and children began playing in the rubble.9In the UK, a toucan crossing is one for both pedestrians and cyclists; the two can cross at the same time.10This Grade II Listed 43-foot clock tower was built in 1889. It moved to its present location in 1934; however, due to soft soil, it now leans downhill by at least 7 inches.11Eastleigh to Bath via Romsey, Salisbury, Warminster, Frome and Radstock.12Eastleigh Borough Council intend to improve cycle access to the station in the near future. At present they recommend cyclists use Kipling Road, a quiet street that runs parallel to the A335 Leigh Road, although this road only takes cyclists halfway to the station.13Woodside Avenue continues to a roundabout with Allbrook Way, a short distance from which is Junction 12 of the M3.

Bookmark on your Personal Space

Conversations About This Entry

There are no Conversations for this Entry

Edited Entry


Infinite Improbability Drive

Infinite Improbability Drive

Read a random Edited Entry

Categorised In:

Written by


Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more