Things to see and do in Lymington
PUBLISHED: 16:17 05 April 2018
This coastal town is a destination for outdoorsy types, foodies and shopaholics says Emma Caulton
Shopping ahoy! Richmond by the sea is how I’ve heard Lymington described. Well, this Georgian market town on the New Forest’s coast certainly has a buzzy vibe and a shopping experience that includes chic boutiques; but with a history based on ship building, smuggling and salt, it offers a far more diverse break away.
Although known worldwide as a yachting resort, Lymington is still fundamentally a traditional market town. If you’re here on a Saturday, join the throng as the impressive, weekly market takes over the High Street with all manner of goods. You are as likely to discover on-trend jars of moreish Korean kimchi (from Pear Tree Cottage) as a clutter of bric-a-brac. There are stalls with rainbow rows of colourful coats, others devoted entirely to jigsaws, hats, fishing tackle or cupcakes, alongside others displaying Italian cheeses and olives. It’s wonderful stuff and an attraction in its own right.
As appealing as the market is, Lymington’s shopping experience is so much more. Fashionistas will be delighted to find names not often found outside London at Stanwells and ThirtyThree. There are very wearable pieces at Loose Ends, evening and cruisewear at Belle Ella, and familiar names for women and men, such as Barbour and Hackett, at Elliotts, a family-run store for over 140 years. Yachties are well looked after with the likes of Henri Lloyd, Nauticalia, Quba & Co and Musto providing suitable technical clothing.
A souvenir for the home can be found by browsing the local art galleries: among them Robert Perera Fine Art specialising in 19th and 20th century landscapes and sea scenes, the contemporary Coastal Gallery, and Salt Marsh Gallery for an eclectic arrangement encompassing glasswork, ceramics and sculpture. Or visit one of Lymington’s interiors stores – the likes of Pinki-Red for painted furniture, Blubambu showcasing furniture handcrafted from reclaimed fishing boats, Starboard Home with a selection influenced by coast and forest, and Willow Lifestyle – all sophisticated neutrals with deep, button-back sofas, cosy throws and lanterns.
Brunch & lunch
For a coffee stop or light lunch there are old favourites and newcomers to try. Finds tucked off the High Street include Maison Cuisine deli and café with outside tables in sheltered Angel Courtyard, and The Larder, a healthy eating hang-out hidden in Early Court with a very veggie-friendly menu served on locally-crafted bowls and dishes. Cafes with a strong following among the locals include Lounges, praised for its comfy cushions and milkshakes, and Bridges, a traditional yet slightly eccentric tea room – selling gemstones and jewellery alongside coffee and cakes. An even more unusual option is Oskubox, serving Nordic delights such as traditional meatballs and Danish open sandwiches. Also worthy of mention is St Barbe Museum’s Old School Room Café, now a light, bright space with great value eats following the Museum’s massive makeover.
Just taking time out on Town Quay to yacht watch is a treat, especially with a New Forest Ice Cream – made in Lymington and in a variety of lip-licking flavours. Walkers can take to the Solent Way which runs west (to its start at Milford on Sea) through Lymington Yacht Haven and strikes out along the seawall of Keyhaven Nature Reserve – 500 acres of lagoons, reed beds and salt marshes that are in most part a legacy of what was once the biggest sea salt industry in the country with the reserve still containing examples of medieval salt workings. It’s also a great place for spotting wildlife as the Reserve provides a stopping off point for migrating birds, or simply to admire the wide views across to the Isle of Wight.
Those keen to get out on the water could try kayaking with Lymington Kayaks, based at Yachtmail Chandlery, Lymington Quay. However, there are also opportunities to sail – for example with Escape Yachting (who offer ‘Sail with Lunch’ and ‘Sail with Dinner’ opportunities) or Sailing Spook (half days available although full days are recommended), both operating out of Lymington Yacht Haven.
In warmer months, splashing good fun is available at Lymington’s Sea Water Baths, the oldest in the country, with inflatable obstacle course and views of the Isle of Wight ferries ploughing their way back and forth across the Solent.
Dinner & supper
Lymington has become a foodie delight. There’s much-lauded Hampshire Life Food & Drink Awards winner The Elderflower, headed up by chef/proprietor Andrew du Bourg. He has worked for Chris Galvin of The Wolseley, Phil Howard of The Square and Pascal Aussignac of Club Gascon before becoming Head Chef of Chewton Glen – and quite frankly this pedigree shows in an exceptionally imaginative menu that makes for a memorable dining experience.
Others worth flagging up are unassuming The Shipyard, Bath Road, with Lymington crab on the menu and chocolates by Miss Witt to finish (an award-winning local producer), and highly-regarded Lanes, found off the High Street in a converted church and school. There are also relative newcomers Koh Thai Tapas, the latest from this small Dorset-based group, and Greedo, Gosport Street, a relaxed modern brasserie that also offers themed evenings – such as fondue night, pie night and film night (using the big screen in the basement bar).
Those in search of a waterside location could hunt out The Haven in Lymington Yacht Haven with views over the marina and the Solent. Or if you’re in search of a relaxed pub experience, try The Thomas Tripp Inn with funky menu (such as polenta and sweetcorn melt and homemade chicken and chorizo burger) and regular live music, from ska to skiffle.
From boutique hotels to welcoming B&Bs and restaurants with rooms, there’s a selection of great stopovers to suit. Want to be in the centre of things? Try The Angel & Blue Pig - a quirky characterful pub with contemporary styled rooms or Stanwell House Hotel – a stylish Georgian townhouse with four poster bedrooms and garden suites. (Both on the High Street.) The Elderflower has rooms, too, and serves up a brilliant breakfast. A couple of minutes walk from the town centre you will find Britannia House – a richly furnished Victorian house providing AA-rated four gold star bed and breakfast accommodation.
Otherwise out of town alternatives include Macdonald Elmers Court Hotel, a 19th century manor house with swimming pools set in 23 acres on the other side of the river and Gordleton Mill at Hordle with a choice of relaxing, country-style rooms.
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