We decided last weekend that a sunny day meant a trip to the seaside was in order.  It was also an excuse to visit somewhere new, so we packed some sandwiches and a beach blanket and headed to Hayling Island on the south coast.

photo: hayling.co.uk

Hayling is off the coast of Hampshire and is accessible by road bridge from Langstone, the first bridge having been built in 1824.  Before the bridge, it was possible to wade across to the island at low tide, but the island was often cut off in bad weather.  Fortunately the modern bridge is strong enough for vehicles and their passengers – on the original wooden bridge, bus passengers had to get out and walk across!

The island has a long history, but it became a seaside resort in the 19th century, especially with the arrival of the (now defunct) railway.

photo: hayling.co.uk

My favourite titbit of island history is that it was used as a decoy during World War 2 for the strategically more important Portsea Island close by.  Sadly, this did mean that the island was heavily bombed during the war, but the defences built at the time can still be seen on Sinah Common.

photo: hayling.co.uk

These days the funfair still seems to be going strong, but Hayling is also a hotspot for windsurfers and kitesurfers.  There are rows of gorgeous beach huts, a pebble beach, cafe’s and restaurants.  Plenty of bracing walks too – given the local passion for windsuring, I’m guessing the strong breeze we encountered on our trip are not uncommon!

To round off the day we stopped for dinner at the Royal Oak, just on the mainland side of the bridge in Langstone.  This pub is gorgeous, situated right on the water with fabulous views.  They also did a great selection of veggie food – we had a roast veg tatin and a goat’s cheese salad, and there were several more options.

The view from the Royal Oak