West, Ian. 2013. Geology of Calshot Spit and Stanswood Bay, Solent and Southampton Water, Hampshire. http://www.southampton.ac.uk/~imw/Calshot-Spit-Stanwood-Bay.htm. By Ian West. Version: 14th December 2013.

Calshot Spit and Stanswood Bay,  Geology of the Wessex Coast

Ian West,

Romsey, Hampshire
School of Ocean and Earth Science ,
National Oceanography Centre, Southampton
Southampton University,

Webpage hosted by courtesy of Information Systems Services, Southampton University
Aerial photographs by courtesy of The Channel Coastal Observatory , National Oceanography Centre, Southampton.

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Calshot Spit, Southampton Water, southern England, aerial photograph courtesy of the Channel Coastal Observatory, a recurved shingle spit

The end of Calshot Spit, Solent, Hampshire, England, shown in an aerial photograph of the 2nd June 2007, courtesy of the Channel Coastal Observatory, and with erosion of saltmarshes visible

Calshot Castle, built during the 1540s, at the end of Calshot Spit, Southampton Water

The RAF Calshot Railway, a narrow gauge line to Eaglehurst Camp from 1919 to 1945, Calshot Spit, Solent Estuaries, southern England

A view of the Solent from the middle of Calshot Spit, Hampshire, July 2005.

Chilling and Brownwich Cliffs, Solent coast, near Fareham, Hampshire, seen across Southampton Water from Calshot Spit

Please see also the webpages on nearby locations:

Geology of Fawley Power Station,
Lepe Beach - Geology,
The Geology of the Beaulieu River Estuary

Chilling Cliff, Brownwich Cliff and Hill Head (opposite shore to Calshot)

Geology of Lepe Beach

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Calshot Spit is easily reached by driving southeast down the B3053 on the western side of Southampton Water past Fawley Oil Refinery and Fawley Power Station. There is some free parking at Hillhead (the landward end of the spit) and there is pay and display parking further to the northeast, at the beginning of the spit, about halfway down and at the Calshot Activites Centre at the end. There are toilets and a cafe and bar (open at times) within the activities center.

Most of Calshot Spit is directly accessible on foot. Part of the beach to the southwest towards Eaglehurst is accessible. However a short distance beyond Luttrell's Tower there is a nature reserve with no public access. Unless permission is obtained, there is no direct access to the best cliff sections. They can be seen at a distance.

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Safety and Risk Assessment

Except in unusually stormy weather conditions this is not a locality of high risk to anyone studying geology or geomorphology. There might be some small risk of falling debris from the low cliffs in places. Anyone venturing into the adjacent marshes could become stuck in soft mud. There is a strong current at times in the sea at the end of the spit.

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An old topographic map, 1936 with roads updated to 1947, of the Fawley and Calshot area, Solent Estuaries, southern England

A 1740 map of Beaulieu River estuary, Hampshire, and adjacent New Forest and Solent areas

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For Saltmarshes see also:
Fawley Power Station - geology.

See also:
The Geology of the Beaulieu River Estuary.

The deterioration of saltmarshes by frontal erosion, creek-widening and die-back of Spartina, in the vicinity of Fawley Power Station, as shown in an old aerial photograph, Solent Estuaries, southern England

The end of Calshot Spit, Solent, Hampshire, England, shown in a modern aerial photograph, courtesy of the Channel Coastal Observatory, and with erosion of saltmarshes visible

Details of saltmarsh erosion and of washover lobes of Cerastoderma shell debris, near Calshot Spit, Southampton Water, southern England, photo courtesy of the Channel Coastal Observatory

For more information on Solent saltmarshes go to:
The Geology of the Beaulieu River Estuary


Solent - Geology of Fawley Power Station


Solent - Lymington, Keyhaven and West Solent

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West of Eaglehurst - Barton Sands Cliffs

Barton Sands and Pleistocene gravel cliffs, west of Eaglehurst, near Calshot Spit, Hampshire

The Barton Sand is well-exposed, but within the Nature Reserve, in eroding cliffs of Stanswood Bay. The Chama Bed, at the base of the Barton Sands, has been seen in the 1960s at the Fawley Power Station outfall in Stanswood Bay, near the beginning of Calshot Spit. It is a sandy clay that does not contain abundant Chama, just here but is very rich in small oysters.

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The Gravel Terrace

(Details to be added)

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Sarsen Stones

See also:
Erratics and Sarsens of the Wessex Coast webpage.

Luttrell's Tower in Stanswood Bay, near Calshot Spit, Solent, Hampshire

A single, beach-worn, sarsen at Luttrell's Tower near Calshot Spit, the Solent, Hampshire

Relatively soft quartzite in a sarsen stone at Luttrell's Tower, Stanswood Bay, near Calshot Spit

A single sarsen stone has been observed on the beach seaward of Luttrell's Tower (Eaglehurst). Since the cliffs are not retreating just here and the tower has been in existence since about 1730 it is likely that the sarsen has been on the beach for 300 years or more. It is of the large tabular type that is common at Chilling Cliff, Brownwich Cliff and elsewhere to the east and southeast. However, it has been much eroded by the abrasive action of beach shingle. It a relatively soft sarsen that is easily broken with a light hammer blow.

The sarsen has presumably come from the low gravel terrace deposits which are present in the cliff. They are at a similar level to the Terrace 2 gravels of Chilling Cliff and Brownwich Cliff.

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Please go to the:

Solent Bibliography.

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Copyright 2013, Ian West, Catherine West, Tonya Loades, and Joanna Bentley. All rights reserved. This is a purely academic website and images and text may not be copied for publication or for use on other webpages or for any commercial activity. A reasonable number of images and some text may be used for non-commercial academic purposes, including field trip handouts, lectures, student projects, dissertations etc, providing the source is acknowledged.

Disclaimer: Geological fieldwork involves some level of risk, which can be reduced by knowledge, experience and appropriate safety precautions. Persons undertaking field work should assess the risk, as far as possible, in accordance with weather, conditions on the day and the type of persons involved. In providing field guides on the Internet no person is advised here to undertake geological field work in any way that might involve them in unreasonable risk from cliffs, ledges, rocks, sea or other causes. Not all places need be visited and the descriptions and photographs here can be used as an alternative to visiting. Individuals and leaders should take appropriate safety precautions, and in bad conditions be prepared to cancell part or all of the field trip if necessary. Permission should be sought for entry into private land and no damage should take place. Attention should be paid to weather warnings, local warnings and danger signs. No liability for death, injury, damage to, or loss of property in connection with a field trip is accepted by providing these websites of geological information. Discussion of geological and geomorphological features, coast erosion, coastal retreat, storm surges etc are given here for academic and educational purposes only. They are not intended for assessment of risk to property or to life. No liability is accepted if this website is used beyond its academic purposes in attempting to determine measures of risk to life or property.

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Dr Ian West, author of these webpages

Webpage - written and produced by:

Ian West, M.Sc. Ph.D. F.G.S.


at his private address, Romsey, Hampshire, kindly supported by Southampton University,and web-hosted by courtesy of iSolutions of Southampton University. The website does not necessarily represent the views of Southampton University. The website is written privately from home in Romsey, unfunded and with no staff other than the author, but generously and freely published by Southampton University. Field trips shown in photographs do not necessarily have any connection with Southampton University and may have been private or have been run by various organisations.