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Things to do in Hamble-le-Rice, Hampshire

The very name Hamble-le-Rice conjures up images of a peaceful backwater village in an idyllic beauty spot, and that is exactly what it is.

Village foreshore © Derek Squires
Village Foreshore © Derek Squires

Hamble-le-Rice is located on the River Hamble estuary in Hampshire, just five miles southeast of Southampton.

Known locally as Hamble, the village has been in the boatbuilding and yachting business since the 14th century.

Cottages on Hamble Green © Derek Squires
Cottages on Hamble Green © Derek Squires

At that time this river port was even more important for trade than neighbouring Portsmouth and it was once famous for its crab and lobster fishing.

One of the oldest buildings in the village is the Church of St Andrew which dates back to Norman times.

The village has several claims to fame.

It was the location for an aircraft training centre during World War II and many hundreds of Spitfires, Wellington and Lancaster bombers have taken off from this charming area.

It played an important part in preparations for the D-Day invasion.

Hamble High Street © Derek Squires
High Street © Derek Squires

The airport is now abandoned and overgrown and parts of it have been developed as a smart new housing estate.

Only the local Hamble Aerostructures factory, a major local employer, continues the local connection with aviation.

Hamble-le-Rice was also very well-known to viewers of the TV boating series Howard's Way which was screened in the late 1980s.


Present Day Hamble-le-Rice

Hamble-le-Rice is best known for its yachting fraternity and the River Hamble is always busy with local yachts and boating enthusiasts out on the water.

The 'King and Queen' © Derek Squires
The King and Queen © Derek Squires

The first Hamble Regatta was held in 1870 and is still an annual traditional which the village enthusiastically embraces.

Sailing masts seem to outnumber the small red brick cottages and houses which make up this historic waterfront community of around 400 residents.

In fact, the village covers 413 acres of land and 870 acres of water!

Although serene and peaceful, Hamble-le-Rice is easily reached from the M27 along the winding B3397 which ends in the village square where there is plenty of car parking.

The Royal Southern Yacht Club © Derek Squires
The Royal Southern Yacht Club © Derek Squires

A cobbled lane then leads down to the river.

Hamble-le-Rice remains a rural village despite its popularity.

It has a village common, plenty of birds and wildlife on the estuary and many scenic footpaths around the area.

Hamble High Street © Derek Squires
High Street © Derek Squires


It has several local shops, upmarket restaurants, pubs and tearooms and a post office.


Things to do in Hamble-le-Rice

Hamble-le-Rice is a sailing Mecca and is ideal for those who have an interest in any type of boats and watersports.

It also offers some lovely walks along the river where birdwatchers and nature lovers can enjoy the variety of wildlife.

The village offers boat trips, fishing, cycling, golf, horse-riding and windsurfing.

Mercury Marina, Hamble-le-Rice © Hilary Watson
Mercury Marina © Hilary Watson

One of the annual highlights is the Hamble Valley Food and Drink Festival along with other social events which the village hosts.

The Royal Victoria Country Park is less than a mile from the village and has plenty of open space for walking and other sports.

The long-distance Strawberry Trail runs through Hamble-le-Rice along the riverbank from Botley to Netley.

The Netley Abbey ruins are also within walking distance from Hamble-le-Rice.

It was once a sizeable and impressive Cistercian Priory with many arched windows and doorways in the surviving stone walls.

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