Up the Creek - South Coast
Ashlett Creek, Southampton Water
Ashlett Creek is accessible from the Southern end of the Esso Marine Terminal on the West side of Southampton Water to vessels with little more than 1 Meter draught and only on a high tide. Once into the tortuous muddy channel marked by buoys & perches once consisting of several dogs-legs (now rather straight) make your way to the Ashlett Sailing Club’s Slip Quay on the Port side where there is usually a vacant drying mooring alongside or should you be lucky head for the Victoria Quay (Mill Quay) for free. There may well be a small charge for an overnight stay at the discretion on the Harbour Master (if he is about). Head for Ashlett Sailing Club or the grade 2 listed 19th century Ashlett Creek Tide Mill (private club) premises (the old Mill building) where you will be assured of excellent company, a good drink and light snacks. Should you wish for a meal then try the Jolly Sailor pub next door (see photo) which was originally a beer house in the days when anyone who paid the poor rate and the two pound excise fee could sell beer. Just a ¼ mile West on route to the village is the Falcon Hotel where good ales are served.
The name ‘Ashlett’ may be derived from the Viking custom of planting an ash stave in the ground where their ships first landed and ‘flete’ from a creek or stretch of salt water. Victoria Quay was built in 1887 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee and the hard provided a good spot for launching small boats and in days when road transport was difficult this was a good place for landing and loading supplies, grain and salt to and from Southampton and other towns. Salt production was important here from Saxon times until the 19th century when corn milling became Ashlett’s principal industry. Flat bottomed sailing barges working the tides handled by perhaps only two men and a boy could negotiate the creek with relative ease; the last one came in 1932. The Hollies, now a private house, was at one time the coastguard house. “TB” on the date stone of Ashlett Creek Tide Mill probably refers to Thomas Barney of Beaulieu who owned the mill at the beginning of the 19th century.
Enjoy the peace, have a BBQ, picnic on the benches, go for a walk in the oasis of rural charm that ignores Calshot and Fawley either side or just stroll along the beach. This area is more for the naturist with the extensive shoreline and shore based wildlife both by day and night.