Marshes and lagoons
The sea wall not only makes for easy walking but also shelters the marshes and their lagoons, a haven for birdlife. I spotted a gratifying number of birds including flocks of brent geese (which over-winter here), curlew, shelduck and oystercatcher, wigeon, redshank and egret, coot, cormorant and Arctic tern. And last but not least, three spoonbills: my first ever sighting. (‘Lucky you’, commented a keen birder friend afterwards, who’d never seen one.)
Beyond Keyhaven I continued to the lighthouse and castle at the end of Hurst Spit, almost within er, spitting distance of the Isle of Wight opposite, Fort Albert across the water just over 1km away, the iconic Needles in the distance to the south-west. Hurst Castle was built by Henry VIII as one of a chain of coastal fortresses; Yarmouth Castle on the Isle of Wight side, likewise.
You can take a ferry between Hurst Castle and Keyhaven, but I was happy to retrace steps, easier on the return with the tide further out and some firmer ground to walk on along Hurst Beach, rather than the more wearisome shingle. My return route beyond Keyhaven was along the landward side of the Nature Reserve, a full moon in a clear sky providing a fine end to a memorable day.