One of the best examples of a countryside and woodland walk beside the River Hamble is along the National Trust shoreline at Curbridge.

Accessible by boat only at high tide, there is a small pontoon on the River Cur ( a small tributary of the Hamble) where you can moor up at the highest navigable point on the River.

Access by road is from the B3051 Botley Road just south of Curbridge, and there is roadside parking at Burridge Cricket Club. The nearby Horse and Jockey pub welcomes visitors to their car park and after the walk you invited to stay for a drink and fine food.

This tranquil enclave of ancient woodland can be steep and muddy, but there are constructed walkways and seating which afford spectacular views through the trees and across the water.

The woodland is celebrated for its wonderful spring displays of bluebells, which can be enjoyed at their best in late April and throughout May, when a carpet of flowers turns the steep slopes blue and the scent clings in the air. There are lots of other special seasonal flowers in the woods, which are home to many more unusual bird species including woodpeckers and warblers.

The reserve is locally known as ‘Wishing Tree Woods’ and hidden among the woodland is the Children’s Shrine to the Fairies – a celebration of the fairies, pixies and elves that inhabit the glades and ferns.

For many years, children and families have been leaving gifts and offerings to the fairy folk, who occasionally respond with secret messages of thanks. Look carefully – you might just catch a glimpse one day!