We’ve done it before so let’s do it again, but differently.
For those who havant seen Hayling Island, it’s an island near Havant. Well, only just an island: we reach it over a road bridge which is about a third of a mile long. Then we will take the route of the “Billy Railway”. Between 1865 and 1963 this popular train linked the south end of the island with Havant station. You can still see the railway bridge supports as we cross the road bridge: http://h2g2.com/dna/h2g2/A13492514
The track provides fine views across Langstone Harbour to Portsmouth and the Spinnaker Tower. The south coast of the island is rather less attractive. Most of it is a boring suburb (in my opinion – apologies if you’ve got an auntie who lives there and loves it). The coast itself is a boring beach enlivened by an amusement park (boring) and a little train which we may see in action, but needn’t be too disappointed about if we don’t.
The return journey takes us through some pleasant island villages and countryside, with a stop at the Maypole Inn for lunch. Those wanting tea as well can add about three miles at the end of the ride for a visit to the charming Flintstone Tearoom at Emsworth, and then catch the return train from there (a return ticket to Havant will be valid).
Meet: Havant station (south side forecourt) at 11:15.
Getting there: 09:48 (direct) or 10:13 (3-minute change at Hove) trains from Brighton. 09:52 or 10:19 trains from Hove. I may catch the train at Hove. There is a car park on the north side of Havant station: £2 on Sundays. You can push your bike over a step-free footbridge to get to the south side.
Distance: About 15 miles or 18 if we return via Emsworth.
Hills: None worth mentioning.
Off road: Good cycle paths.
Catering: Lunch at the Maypole Inn in the centre of the island – tel. 02392 463670. (http://themaypolehaylingisland.co.uk/). Tea at the Flintstone Tearoom in Emsworth (or straight back to Havant for the train).
Getting home: There are three or more trains per hour from Havant to Brighton, including xx:00 (change at Hove) and xx:27 (direct). All these trains call at Emsworth about three minutes later.
My mobile: 0789 985 1172.