On the opposite bank of the river from Bucklers Hard is Exbury Gardens, a stunning woodland garden started in the inter-war period by Lionel de Rothschild. The gardens offer up a riot of rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias, to name but a few plants to be found there. Different features of the garden peak at different times of the year, for example the impressive rock garden is at its best in April, so whatever the season a visit to Exbury is a must if you are in the vicinity.
Heading back round to the Solent, we come to Lepe. There is a country park here with walks including a World War II walk featuring relics from D Day, Lepe being a number of places along the south coast which had a part to play in this pivotal wartime moment. There is also a wide variety of birdlife, including Little Egrets, Oystercatchers and Ringed Plovers. There was a harbour at Lepe village from the 1700s which was used for shipbuilding, but it silted up in 1825. This was another area where smuggling was rife, and the captain of a smuggling ship, Billy Coombes, was captured and hanged at Stone Point in the 1800s. Curiously, he has the same surname as George Coombes, who met a similar fate at Mudeford (see earlier post); maybe he was a descendent. Lepe’s contribution to the D Day landings included not only acting as a departure point for the troops and equipment, but also the construction of a Mulberry Harbour, a type of temporary harbour used to facilitate the unloading of troops onto the Normandy beaches, and as a mainland base for the P.L.U.T.O. pipeline, (Pipe-Lines Under The Ocean), which were used to pump the vital fuel supplies needed by the troops in France in order to carry out their operations.
Map of the area.
photo © 2009 Rictor Norton & David Allen | more info (via: Wylio)