The Solent Way

Milford-on-Sea to Lymington

The Solent Way > Milford-on-Sea to Lymington

Introduction

The Solent Way begins in Milford-on-Sea just to the south of the New Forest, with stunning views of the Needles on the Isle of Wight in the distance. The path initially takes you on the sea front before heading down Hurst Beach on this impressive spit to Hurst Castle. Returning from the spit, the path follows the coast through pleasant countryside round to the lovely port of Lymington.

Getting to the Start

Milford-on-Sea is to the south of the New Forest. It is on the B3058 which joins the A337 between Lymington and New Milton, providing access to the M27 motorway and A31 at the north of the New Forest and the A35 at Christchurch. The A337 does sometimes suffer bad congestion in the summer months (especially at weekends), particularly around Lyndhurst however. There is ample parking on the sea front (a fee is charged), although free parking does appear to be available in Saltgrass Lane, the coastal road between Milford-on-Sea and Keyhaven, although the road does sometimes flood at high tide.

By public transport, Wilts and Dorset buses run a fairly frequent service from Bournemouth, Boscombe, Christchurch, Mudeford, Highcliffe, New Milton and Lymington to Milford-on-Sea. For those travelling from further afield, this bus passes close to the rail station at Milford-on-Sea (on the main line between Southampton and Bournemouth) and Lymington Town (on a branch line from Brockenhurst), both stations have a frequent service and New Milton has direct trains to London.

The Walk

The Solent Way starts in the green at the small town of Milford-on-Sea. From the green head down Sea Road until you get to the sea front. Here you'll be treated to wonderful views of the Needles at the western end of the Isle of Wight and views around the coast to Hengistbury Head to the east.

The sea front at Milford-on-Sea Beach huts at Milford-on-Sea
The sea front at Milford-on-Sea Beach huts at Milford-on-Sea
Dusk at Milford-on-Sea
The Needles from Milford-on-Sea at dusk

The beach at Milford-on-Sea is mostly shingle, although there is some sand at the waters edge in places. Follow the path along the sea front towards Hurst Castle as it becomes a gravel track beyond the car park. Soon you are passing the stream to Sturt Pond on the left, crossed by two wooden bridges, the latter of which carries the part of the Solent Way that goes towards Lymington.

Sturt Pond Hurst beach at Milford-on-Sea
Sturt Pond Hurst Beach at Milford-on-Sea

Continue along Hurst Beach all the way to Hurst Castle. Although the path can be heavy going due to the constantly moving shingle, the views make it worthwhile as you get closer to the castle and the Isle of Wight and also get good views round the coast to the east and of the boats in the navigable channels of the wet lands to the east. This narrow spit is all that protects the low-lying land to the east from flooding and in storms the sea does sometime wash over the top of the spit, which can move by several metres during storms.

The Needles from Hurst Beach View to the east from Hurst Beach
The Needles from Hurst Beach View to the east from Hurst Beach

Soon you'll arrive at Hurst Castle and the Solent Way now rounds the castle. It's interesting to see just how close the walls of the castle are to the sea. Although round the back of the castle the beach has wooden groins, the only one that is too high to easily climb over has steps provided. Beyond the castle the path takes you to the light house that warns ships of the presence of the spit, which is just 3/4 of a mile from the coast of the Isle of Wight. Parts of the Castle were built for Henry VII and date from 1544. The castle has been modernised and extended over the years with much of it dating from the late 1800s as well as some Second World War installations. The Castle is now under the care of English Heritage and is open to the public all year round (admission charge), and is well worth a visit. As well as the footpath during the summer there is also a ferry service to Hurst Castle from Keyhaven.

Hurst Castle Hurst Castle
Hurst Castle Hurst Castle
Hurst Castle The Isle of Wight from Hurst Castle
Hurst Castle The Isle of Wight from Hurst Castle
Hurst Castle and lighthouse Hurst Castle
Hurst Castle and Lighthouse Hurst Castle
Hurst Lighthouse Hurst Castle
Hurst Lighthouse Hurst Castle

From Hurst Castle retrace your steps along the beach until you get to the first wooden bridge over the stream, which you cross and head for Keyhaven. Boats also run from Hurst Castle to Keyhaven during the summer.

Hurst Beach Hurst Beach
Hurst Beach Hurst Beach
Keyhaven Keyhaven
Keyhaven Keyhaven

Keyhaven is a pretty village with it's small harbour and from here (during the summer) boats run to Hurst Castle and Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight as well as boat trips to view the needles and Alum Bay. From Keyhaven the path heads round the side of the harbour to the road to cross the river before turning right back towards the coast. The path is now passing through Keyhaven Marshes, a wildlife haven, then on to Pennington Marshes, all protected by the spit to Hurst Castle. At Pennington Marshes there is a small jetty and a pipe line goes under the sea here.

Keyhaven The Needles from Keyhaven
Keyhaven The Needles from Keyhaven
The Solent Way near Keyhaven Near Pennington Marshes
The Solent Way near Keyhaven Near Pennington Marshes

As you continue around Pennington Marshes and Oxey Marsh you come to a small canal with a lock gate, the path follows the left hand side of this small canal to some beautiful houses. Here the official path continue to The Salterns although there is also a path round this part of the coast. The path then pases Eight Acre Pond, where there is sailing and then back to the coast.

Near Woodside Farm View towards the Isle of Wight
Near Woodside Farm View from near The Salterns to The Isle of Wight
View towards Lymington
View towards Lymington

Soon you can see the Lymington River ahead with the frequent Wightlink Ferries to the Isle of Wight passing along and the many sails of the boats at Waterford Mariner. The path rounds the edge of the mariner (there are toilets in the car park here), then pases the lifeboat station along the banks of the river.

A ferry on the Lymington to Yarmouth service Ferries passing near Lymington
A ferry approaches Lymington Two ferries pass near Lymington

Soon the path pases by Lymington Mariner a large mariner on the banks of the river.

Lymington Mariner Lymington Mariner
Lymington Mariner Lymington Mariner

Soon you pass a pleasant river side park and arrive at the quay in Lymington. This attractive area has a pub and lots of restaurants. You can also take boat trips from here to Yarmouth. Across the river the Wightlink ferry service operates regularly to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight, carrying both cars and passengers. From the quay area you can climb into the attractive high street of the town with it's shops and restaurants. Lymington is a lovely town to spend some time looking around.

Lymington Lymington
Lymington Lymington
Lymington
Lymington

Getting Back

Wilts and Dorset bus services 121, 122, 123 and 124 run hourly (once every two hours on Sundays) from Lymington Bus Station (in the High Street) back to Milford-on-Sea. This bus also goes on to New Milton, Christchurch and Bournemouth. If you're travelling further afield, Lymington has two stations, Lymington Pier (adjacent to the ferry terminal across the river) and Lymington Town, near the quay. From both these stations South West Trains operate a service to Brockenhurst on the main line, running every 30 minutes 7 days a week. From Brockenhurst there are frequent trains to New Milton, Christchurch, Bournemouth, Poole, Wareham, Dorchester, Weymouth, Southampton, Winchester, Basingstoke, Woking, London Waterloo, Reading, Oxford and Birmingham.

Links

The following web sites provide information on the area.


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