Langstone is where the bridge from Hayling Island joins the main land and where Chichester and Langstone harbour meet.
Easy access & good scenery (not to mention the convenient location of 2 nice pubs) make Langstone a good starting point for touring into one of the two harbours, stopping off halfway on a “round island” tour or even just a couple of hours aimless paddling.
The location is really split into two parts – seperated by the road bridge on to Hayling, so I’ll cover each seperately.
EAST OF THE BRIDGE
East of the bridge is Chichester harbour, which offers interesting and sheltered paddling.
Following the northern shore , past the mill, from here will take you on a nice rural paddle to Emsworth about 2 miles along the coast.
South of the Harbour is Hayling Island. I’ve yet to follow this shore around to the East, but have been told that it’s a relaxing rural paddle past old oyster beds and the marina.
WEST OF THE BRIDGE
West of the bridge is Langstone Harbour (the dividing line is actually the old railway pilings).
Going under the bridge can be a bit of an experience the first time you do it, depending on the tides. The water speeds up to get through the narrow gap accellerating you towards the concrete uprights faster than you might expect. It’s not too hairy, but can catch you off guard if you are not expecting it.
Once through the bridge you are the sheltered harbour between the road bridge and the old railway crossing (now just pilings). It is just a very short gentle paddle before reaching the railway crossing and if the current is with you you will hardly have to paddle if you stay in the centre.
On spring tides the railway pilings actually get covered by the water, although most have a small “mast” on top that remains above. Worth being aware of if they are only just covered. If you see these at low tide it will give you an idea of how deep the water can get here so close to shore.
Once past the old railway crossing the water opens up and slows down. The northern shore is a nature reserve and following this will take on a pleasant paddle over to to Portsmouth. Once you leave Langstone this shore is not accessible by car again until you reach Portsmouth, so best to either have a car waiting or plan a round trip.
The southern shore is Hayling island. Following this will take you past the old Oyster beds and then parallel to the route of the old railway (now a bridle path). For a short paddle you can follow the shore to “The halt” (near the esso garage), but after that the next bit of shore accessible by car is “The Kench” on Ferry Road, Hayling Island about 4-5 miles along the coast depending on how straight a route you take.
How to get there:
Leave the A27 where signposted for Hayling Island & Langstone then head south.
Turn left just before crossing the bridge and park by The Ship pub.
There is a watersports shop, that carries a limited amount of Kayaking kit, just the other side of the bridge. Take the first left after the bridge and head into the marina and look for “Shore Watersports”. Alternatively the paddle across only takes a few minutes.
There are public toilets in the car park as well as a public slipway.
There are also 2 good pubs, the Royal Oak and The Ship, both of which serve good beer and food. Both are right on the waterfront and have outdoor seating if you want to keep an eye on your kit.
Beginners should be aware that the current gets reasonably swift under the bridge and between the old railway pilings. Not too awful though.
There is a wreck about 20 or 30 feet from old mill that get submerged at high water and is capable of putting a nasty gouge in your hull. The water is usually clear enough to spot this if you are keeping an eye out when you are near the mill.
Ins and Outs:
There is a public slipway at the Hayling end of the pub car park. Unless the tide is high you can also launch and land from directly outside the pub itself on the shallow shingle shore.
At high tide it is also possible to put-in south of the bridge. There is a layby on the right just as you get on to Hayling that gives access to a small and very sheltered bay that leads on to the main harbour. This part is very shallow though, so would limit your paddling time a bit more (I’d guess an hour either side of high-tide but am not 100% sure).
If you follow the shore of Hayling Island around towards Portsmouth there are some old Oyster beds there that are now part of a nature reserve. Not sure what the rules are for kayaking in them, but the look on twitcher’s faces has always stopped me from exploring.
The area is quite tidal, so if you are not careful you can find yourself dragging your kayak through the mud to get back to shore. I’ve paddled about 90 minutes either side of high-tide without any problem at all, so you could probably push this to 2 hour on a spring tide.
Langstone is a pleasant and very accessible spot for either a summer recreation paddle or as a starting point for some harbour touring.