Quaint harbour, nature reserve and pub with a view

On the South coast, between Southampton and Portsmouth, is a short stretch of beach which is perfect for walking, bird watching or just feeding the ducks.

Hill Head is a harbour dotted with small yachts by the Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve, a twitchers’ paradise covering more than 350 acres of the Meon Valley.

Walks around the reserve are perfect for nature lovers and children who can be tempted to be quiet enough to go into hides to see the birds and wildlife. If you’re not a huge ornithologist you can ‘Hide with a Guide’ – or take a guided walk through the reserve to spot things you might not see on your own.

Dogs for obvious reasons can’t go into the reserve – they have their own playground that is the shingle shore that looks out over the Solent to the Isle of Wight, a perfect spot for a run across the low-tide shoreline. Don’t forget to take some food for the ducks and swans that enjoy the tranquil waters of the harbour. Don’t bother on a sunny spring Sunday – they’ll have had more than their fill!

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The spot is perfect for fishing or a picnic and there’s a quirky cafe van in off-peak months, the Splitscreen Barista, that appears on the beach serving great coffee to enjoy sat on the wall. Or head to The Haven Tea Rooms for a bacon sandwich or afternoon tea. Dogs are only welcome in the cafe garden with its picnic benches which is fine in the spring and summer. A winter warm up after you’ve blown the cobwebs away on the beach is ideal though if you’re dog free.

Close to the Haven is a pub on the waterfront with a stunning outlook. The Osborne View is built on three levels and has a huge pub garden, all with amazing views across the Solent. It’s atmospheric, popular and sort-of dog friendly with doggy ice cream in the summer and doggy beer at Christmas – yes really. The food unfortunately can be hit and miss and the view is reflected in the prices – but it still makes a really lovely way to round off a trip to the beach.

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