A weekend on the New Forest coast - things to do, places to eat and where to stay
PUBLISHED: 10:11 08 June 2015 | UPDATED: 10:11 08 June 2015
As the weather heats up, there's no better place to visit than the glorious New Forest coastline. From cruises to campsites, walking tours to wildlife you're guaranteed a full itinerary
Cruise the coastline
After a pleasant stroll among the cobbled streets on Lymington, head down to the quayside for some fish and chips and watch the boats go by, or perhaps even attempt to catch a few crabs. If the weather’s on your side though, you simply can’t miss a chance to get out onto the water. Puffin Cruises can be found on the quay and Puffin Billi can take you out on a 30-minute river cruise, or how about one-hour picnic cruise? Taking in the river then out on to the Solent eastwards, you will have panoramic views of the western Solent while you enjoy your food. As the sun goes down, you could always decide to do an evening cruise, heading out on to the Solent for close-up views of Henry VII’s Hurst Castle, Fort Albert and Fort Victoria plus you will see the Needles in the distance.
Finally, you could choose the three-hour cruise, which combines all of the above and ‘the eighth wonder of the world’, the Needles and lighthouse. To find out times and prices visit www.puffincruiseslymington.com or call 07850 947618.
Luxury on the beach
Situated on the edge of the New Forest, The Beach House is nestled 200 yards from the beach in Milford on Sea and boasts breath-taking views of the Isle of Wight and the Needles. A Grade II listed Victorian mansion built in 1897, with restored oak-panelled interior, stained glass windows and vintage furniture, it was recently renamed (previously Westover Hall) by Blandford brewers, Hall & Woodhouse. The Beach House has 15 en-suite rooms, with stunning sea views available. See www.beachhousemilfordonsea.co.uk to book a room from £100 per night.
Feasts of the forest
Whether it is a cosy pub, fancy restaurant, or quaint tea room, if you are dedicated to supporting local producers and eating only the freshest ingredients, then look out for the New Forest Marque. What better way to start the day than with the official New Forest Breakfast, made up of at least three items of local produce from within the Forest. It was developed by top New Forest chefs and is now being served up at hotels, B&Bs, pubs and tearooms. There’s even bread that has been made using wheat that has been grown, milled and baked in the Forest. After a hearty start to the day, lunch or dinner at Pebble Beach in Barton-on Sea will not be a disappointment. This place has the most spectacular sea views looking out to the Isle of Wight – sip a glass of wine and enjoy some locally caught seafood dishes (www.pebblebeach-uk.com).There are food trails to explore across the whole of the Forest too. Try the Milford-on-Sea trail to enjoy a spectacular three-mile coastal walk taking in the foodie delights of The Marine Café, Lisa’s Larder pop-up farm shop selling Keyhaven lamb (among other things), independent grocer Hollands, sample The Raft’s locally made cakes and finally Braxton Gardens where you can buy New Forest produce to take home.
The Beach Bus
Why not ditch the car for the day and hop on board The Beach Bus, which runs from Hythe Ferry to Lymington, stopping at popular attractions such as Lepe Country Park, the stunning Exbury Gardens, the family friendly National Motor Museum at Beaulieu and historical Buckler’s Hard, where you can see the new Shipwright’s Centre bringing ship building to life? You can also enjoy great discounts with your ticket, including a free ice cream at Lepe Beach.
Set in five acres of parkland with a glimpse of the Isle of Wight, Lytton Lawn in Milford on Sea offers peace and relaxation. There is a play area for children, a games room and a well-stocked shop with off-licence. If you don’t have your own tent, there’s no excuse, as they have ready assembled Eurotents for hire. Plus, if you fancy a few hours of indulgence, just two-and-a-half miles away at Shorefiled Country Park, there’s a spa. Camping costs from £12 - £36 per pitch, per night.
Take a tour - Janette duke of Lymington Town Tours shares her top tips for the area
What’s your favourite thing about volunteering for the town tours?
• Although I have lived in the Forest for over 50 years and thought I knew a lot about the local area, I was really surprised at how much I have learned since joining.
If you had to choose one of the town tours, which would it be?
• If I was recommending one it would have to be ‘The Story of Lymington’ – it gives a brilliant overview of how the town came into being, and the highs and lows it has experienced during its history.
If visitors wanted to enjoy a coastal inspired walk, which should they choose?
• I think that it would have to be ‘Sea, Salt & Smuggling’ – so much of Lymington’s history has been connected to its location by the sea - a centre for trade, ship building, salt production and latterly as a vibrant centre for sailing.
Do you have any new walks for the summer season?
• With such a rich vein of history to tap into we are always trying to add something new to our programme. This season we have two ‘guest’ walks. The first looks at some of the inhabitants of the churchyard at Milford on Sea - everything from a Duchess to a scoundrel -with our ‘Voices from the Grave’ walk. We also have ‘Secrets of Pennington’ which abuts Lymington and still has an area of common at it’s heart. It is known as Donkey Town by the locals, and the gorse bushes were very useful for drying sheets on! When Lymington was a garrison town it is rumoured that the common was a popular site for duels.
What makes the New Forest coast so special for you?
• In a word, ‘diversity’. We have the stunning scenery and spectacular sunsets along the coastline and a little further inland the tranquility of the forest. It is no wonder it has, throughout time, proved a very popular place to live.
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