Hurst Spit.

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Out on a little boat trip today taking the Ferry from Keyhaven in the New Forest out to Hurst spit.

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The Castle is open to the public. The first part of Hurst Castle is a Tudor castle, which was completed in 1544, most of it was built of stone. It had a low profile and very thick walls typical of Henry VIII’s coastal forts. in the area.The castle originally had 71 gun positions on six levels, some sited to allow flanking fire along the front of the main walls. The Castle remained mainly unchanged until the outbreak of war with France in 1793. At this time the castle armament was out of date and the castle in poor condition. It was quickly repaired in 1794 and two gun batteries were built on either side of the Tudor castle, but these have been lost under further rebuilding of the batteries undertaken between 1852 and 1854 which is of red bricks. Vaulted casemates that allowed extra guns to be installed survive in the north-east and south bastions and behind the curtain walls.

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In both world wars the castle once again played a key role in protecting the western entrance to the Solent. English heritage is currently restoring these war time additions to Hurst.

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Several lighthouses have guided shipping through the passage from Hurst Spit to the Needles on the Isle of Wight. The first two, built on the spit in 1786 and 1812, have been demolished, but the Low Light of the 1860s and the metal light of 1911 survive. Both, now decommissioned, can be seen on the rear wall of the castle’s west wing. The High Light of 1867, sited beyond the end of the east wing, still functions. The Needles lighthouse can be seen across the Solent off the tip of the Isle of Wight.

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Boat trip back to Keyhaven.

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