Murder on the nature reserve on Hayling Island - in crime fiction that is

I live not far from the Hayling Island Coastal Path on the south coast of England. This path borders the eastern shores of Langstone Harbour and the top end of the path (close to where I live) is a nature reserve. Now I'm delighted to learn that the remainder of the Hayling Coastal Path which leads south to West Town on Hayling Island, Hayling Bay and the Solent is also to become a nature reserve. Not sure what the powers that be (Hampshire County Council) will make of me having a murder there!  Yes, Footsteps on the Shore, the new Inspector Andy Horton novel due out on 27 January is partly based on the coastal path.

Hayling Coastal Path, Langstone Shore looking towards the Isle of Wight
Recently I did a photo shoot for The News on the shores of Langstone Harbour. Below are a couple of photos from it.

Pauline Rowson on photo shoot on Hayling Island Coastal Path, Langstone Harbour with Portsdown Hill in the background

This path was once The Hayling Billy Railway Line which began in 1867 connecting Havant to Hayling Island and the coveted status of nature reserve comes 47 years after carriages took their last journey along the route.The line was closed in the 1960s but the track survived and is now a popular walking and cycling route attracting thousands of people every year because of its picturesque views of Langstone Harbour, although it doesn't look that picturesque in the photo below, but I can assure you it is in a wild windswept sort of way.

Pauline Rowson sitting on Langstone Shore on Hayling Isalnd with the nature reserve and trees of Stoke Common in the background

The nature reserve designation applies to the stretch of the route that runs along the western coast of Hayling Island.  It means this land can never be built on. Yippee!  It also protects several rare animal species that inhabit the trail including a rare moth called Coleophora Vibicella which is found in only five locations in the UK. I wonder if I've seen it without knowing it?

The area is also a huge magnet for bird watchers and has seen many rare sea birds and others fly into the harbour.  I've just returned from a walk along the coastal path.  The tide was up, the sun was shining and two dredgers were sailing into the harbour, one into Kendalls Wharf in Portsmouth, which is the location for the Inspector Andy Horton crime novel Dead Man's Wharf and the other boat into Bedhampton Wharf at the top of the harbour.

The sea was teeming with bird life. I was watching them flying in beautiful formation like a white Mexican wave.

County Councillor Ann Buckley said the designation of the nature reserve could be a huge boost to tourism in Havant and Hayling Island though part of me wonders how our small island with only one road on will cope with a 'huge boost' in road traffic!
Hayling Island has also featured in a couple of my other books namely In Cold Daylight and Deadly Waters  where the body of a woman is found on the broken back Mulberry in Langstone Harbour, which you can see from the shore, here in the photograph below.

The Mulberry in Langstone Harbour looking north


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