Best things about living in Lymington
PUBLISHED: 10:18 11 May 2015 | UPDATED: 10:18 11 May 2015
From stories of smuggling and sea salt to summer sailing and superb shopping, Emma Caulton celebrates living the high life in the seaside town of Lymington
Lymington is special. This is where Forest meets coast, and where old-fashioned charm meets the chic yachtie set. Its past is founded on salt, smuggling and shipbuilding, while its present is focused on sailing and shopping.
On a Saturday morning Lymington’s Georgian High Street is taken over by a traditional market that has existed for centuries (established in 1250), and is a colourful mix of stalls selling fruit and vegetables, artisan breads, luxury chocolates, fishing tackle, golf paraphernalia, rugs and rainbow-bright South American garments...you name it, you will probably find it.
The shops themselves are a range of quality independents and good national names which make browsing a pleasure; meanwhile there is a plethora of pubs, cafes and restaurants to cater for very taste and pocket.
And how many towns in Hampshire can follow-up a shopping experience with the opportunity to spend half an hour or so sitting on the quayside, perhaps licking a New Forest Ice Cream (made in Lymington), watching families crabbing, yachts floating by and ferries to-ing and fro-ing to the Isle of Wight?
Come the summer months you can enjoy a splash in Lymington’s Grade II listed open-air salt water pool. Or you can take a stroll along the Solent Way. Wander past the marinas and quite suddenly you find yourself in a calming paradise of marsh and lagoon supporting wildlife and wildflowers, such as curlews and lapwings, painted lady butterflies and sea pinks, with views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight. It all feels quite magical.
In short, Lymington seems to have all that is required for quality of life. Little wonder retirees come here looking for community and relaxation, Londoners imagine escaping to second homes with sea views, and families dream of discovering an old-fashioned childhood for their youngsters.
As for schools, reports for both private and state are glowing. Lymington Infant School is rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, Lymington Junior School and Priestlands secondary school are both rated ‘good’, and Brockenhurst College is ‘outstanding’. The nearest of a selection of local independents (roundly praised by The Good School Guide) is Walhampton. This school offers weekly boarding, which could work well for second home owners, and it also makes the most of its New Forest location – a teacher is reported as saying: “mud is on the curriculum”.
There are properties to meet all needs. Traditionally ‘South of the High Street’, between town and coast, has always been favoured with streets of old sea-captain-type Georgian townhouses and leafy lanes of Regency houses, mid-century family homes and architect-designed contemporary builds featuring expanses of glass. However north of the High Street, pretty terraced cottages and some nicely done enclaves of modern homes can offer good value. A new waterfront development, Lymington Shores, has raised concerns that it may dominate the immediate vicinity. Lymington is a market town that tends to do small scale. Facilities include a leisure centre and an active community centre, but there are no big cinema complexes or theatres here. You will need to travel for those.
Accessibility could be perceived as a downside. I’m always surprised how long it takes me to get to Lymington – although it is a lovely drive through Forest landscape. No matter; in my view its relative inaccessibility is part of its charm, keeping Lymington out of harm’s way, helping it retain its strong sense of community and locality. It’s fine for those commuting to local hubs such as Southampton and Bournemouth, but, located at the end of the branch line from Brockenhurst’s mainline station, a journey from Lymington Town to Waterloo takes about two hours or so. But for some, Lymington could be well worth it.
Iain Bonneywell - Spencers of the New Forest, Lymington
“For many, the Georgian market town of Lymington is considered the jewel of the Solent. Lymington has not only attracted the sailing fraternity for countless years, but the bustling High Street with boutique shops and artisan markets serves the local community and attracts many visitors.
The diverse property market attracts buyers from all over the country who wish to embrace the joys of coastal living, whilst being on the doorstep of the New Forest. From contemporary, coastal homes offering luxurious millionaire lifestyle living, to terraced period cottages which provide manageable bases for people looking for second homes, Lymington offers something for everyone.
The history of the town and charm of the High Street brings tourism to the area throughout the year, yet Lymington manages to retain a true local identity with many societies, social groups and entertainment. The schooling is considered as excellent, and we find many families moving to the area from London or the Home Counties to enhance their children’s lives by introducing them to the array of outdoors activities available.
Having worked in London and the Home Counties for many years, I fully understand what attracts buyers to the area, and for several years I have enjoyed the harbourside lifestyle I dreamed of for so long; and the vibrancy of the town centre with its choice of restaurants and eateries enhances the weekends of many commuters or second home owners.”
• A weekend in the Test Valley - things to do, places to eat and where to stay - The tranquil landscape of the Test Valley tempts visitors with its award-winning food, home-grown fizz and gentle riverside walks. Throw in a gallery or two and the boutique-lined Stockbridge High Street and you have an indulgent weekend ahead
• Out and about in Lymington and Keyhaven Marshes - Lymington and Keyhaven Marshes make a great day out for an invigorating walk, a leisurely stroll or a spot of birdwatching says Peter Hutchings from the Wildlife Trust