OS Explorer maps are a useful source of information in locating all kinds of leisure activities and sites. These highly detailed 1:25,000 scale maps show a host of attractions, including gardens open to the public, nature reserves and country parks as well as all official footpaths, bridleways, roads and lanes. Southampton Water is covered by OS Explorer map 22, the Western Solent and the Isle of Wight by map 29, Fareham, Gosport and Portsmouth by map 119, and Langstone and Chichester Harbours by map 120. OS maps can be purchased from www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk or from local bookshops and stationers.
Major bus operators in Hampshire include First Provincial (www.firstgroup.com) and Stagecoach (www.stagecoachbus.com). The Traveline service provides details of public transport throughout the region, telephone 0870 608 2 608. A Solent Travelcard is valid on every local bus service in Hampshire and is a good cost efficient way to use local bus services. Telephone 0870 608 2608 for further details. Southern Vectis operate an Isle of Wight wide bus service all year, with open top buses on some routes in the summer.
The Solent mainland has good transport links to the rest of the country. The M27 runs parallel to the Hampshire coast with links to Southampton via the M271, A33 and A334 and Portsmouth via the M275. To the East the A27 provides access to the West Sussex coastal towns. The Hampshire coastal towns can be reached by the following main roads: Gosport (A32), Hayling Island (A3023), Hythe and Fawley (A326) and Lymington (A337).
Many of the Isle of Wight's roads have outstanding views but they can be narrow and twisty so care is needed when driving on them. Tourist car park tickets are available from Tourist Information Centres, these can help to save money when using public car parks. These Centres also produce a wide range of maps highlighting scenic routes and attractions. Car ferries serve the Island from Southampton, Portsmouth and Lymington.
Details of car parks are available from the relevant local or district council. Telephone numbers for the Solent's local authorities are available on the Solent Forum Members Directory Page.
There are direct rail services from London to Southampton, Portsmouth and Fareham. A shuttle bus links Southampton station with the Red Funnel ferry terminal for services to the Isle of Wight. Brockenhurst station in the New Forest has a local service to Lymington Pier, which connects with the Wightlink ferry service to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight.
Island line on the Isle of Wight operates a regular train service which connects with the passenger ferries at Ryde Pier Head and runs as far as Shanklin.
Further information on rail services can be viewed at www.nationalrail.co.uk or telephone 08457 48 49 50.
There are several regular services to the Island provided by three main carriers, Wightlink, Red Funnel and Hovertravel. All the passenger services have their roots in the steam packets of the 19th Century, and the early development of tourist traffic to the Island.
Wightlink Services (Tel: 0870 582 7744 or www.wightlink.co.uk)
Wightlink runs services over three routes to and from the Island.
Red Funnel Services (Tel: 023 8033 3042)
Hovertravel (Tel: 023 9281 1000)
There are a number of popular local ferry services operating across parts of the Solent. These include the Gosport ferry which operates between Gosport and Portsmouth, the Hythe ferry which links Hythe with Southampton, the Warsash ferry that travels across the River Hamble to link Warsash and Hamble and the Hayling Ferry that links Hayling Island with Eastney. A chain ferry links West and East Cowes on the Island.
The contact details for the local ferry services are as follows: