Landscape and Seascape
The Solent provides a diverse and dramatic range of landscapes and seascapes. Its character is a product of the interplay between three elements, which can be described as follows:
a. The mainland coast of Hampshire and Chichester Harbour, including:
- the wooded coastline, estuaries, saltmarshes and spits of the New Forest;
- the urban, industrial and estuarine landscapes of Southampton Water, with prominent shipping activity associated with the commercial port;
- the River Hamble, with its busy recreational harbour in the lower reaches, and undisturbed wooded valley above Bursledon;
- the cliffs, shingle beaches and mudflats between Hook and Fort Gilkicker, and urban areas of Lee-on-the-Solent and Gosport (Stokes Bay);
- Portsmouth Harbour with a character defined by urban development, defence heritage and the activity of the Royal Navy and Commercial Port;
- the open and largely undeveloped shoreline, tidal waters and mudflats of Langstone Harbour;
the varied inlets, shorelines and small settlements of Chichester Harbour
b. The north coast of the Isle of Wight including:
- the dramatic cliffed coastline and beaches between the Needles and Yarmouth;
- the largely undeveloped low-lying and cliffed coastline between Yarmouth and Cowes, including the unspoilt expanse of Newtown Creek;
- the busy harbour of Cowes, with its focus for recreational and port activity, and the quieter reaches of the Medina River;
- the remote cliffed coastline of Osborne Bay, Kings Quay and the busier Wootton Creek;
- the mainly urban seaside coastline of Ryde, St Helens, and the quiet harbour of Bembridge.
c. The open Solent seascape, punctuated only by navigation buoys and marks, and the East Solent forts.
The constant but varied pattern of marine related activity is an intrinsic part of the character of the system, including major shipping movements (particularly in the East) and recreational craft cruising and racing in various numbers throughout the year.
The Marine Management Organisation have published a Seacape Character Assessment for the South Marine Plan Area.