Seaside walk and breakfast

For great seaside walks, whatever the weather, few places in Hampshire can beat Stokes Bay.

Its stone beaches look out over the Solent, across to the Isle of Wight and free parking right on the water’s edge makes for a perfect picnic on the beach or a lovely spot to read a book from the warmth of your car.

Miles of beaches along the Bay make for great walks with some lovely spots to stop. At one end is Browndown, these are live firing ranges so if the red flag is flying, don’t enter – there’s plenty of other places to stroll.

The beach here has an outlet that the dogs love to paddle in and The Bayside Cabin, right on the waterfront with a garden by the beach, serves ‘The Titanic’ or ‘Wightlink’ cooked breakfasts, lunches or a traditional ice cream from Marshfields Farm.

The Stokes Bay prom stretches all along the miles of beach, that makes it great for a visit with a buggy or a wheelchair and Stanley Park offers some woodland walks to complement the sea. Close to the Park is the Alverbank Hotel which has recently changed hands and is currently being renovated – the garden there looks across a traditional stone balustrade to Ryde Church and is a fairly sheltered spot for a drink and a light lunch.

Pebbles Fish and Wine Bar sits further along, with outdoor seating alongside the prom and in the summer has something of a Spanish feel, complete with a tapas menu. They offer special OAP lunches, Jazz on the Beach Evenings and the opportunity to sit quietly with an ice-cold glass of white wine with a view.

At the very far end of the Bay, at Lifeboat Lane, is our dog’s favourite walking spot. Park by the Gosport & Fareham Inshore Rescue Service (GAFIRS) – at the weekends you’ll be able to view the lifeboat waiting on its tractor in case of an issue in the busy Solent water – and pop some money in the collection box of this awesome local charity. If you head here on New Year’s Day you can even watch the mad men and women who head into the icy waters to raise funds for the charity.