Where to find Bluebells near Lymington and the New Forest

Where to find Bluebells near Lymington and the New Forest.

The evocative scent and vivid colour of Bluebells make them a highlight of springtime.

Bluebells 2014Britain's favourite wildflower blooms from mid-April to early May and is a precious part of our national heritage - bluebells don’t grow wild anywhere else in Europe and almost half of the world’s bluebells can be found in the UK, they’re relatively rare in the rest of the world. See more below!

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About Bluebells 

With thanks to Jaqui, owner of the wonderful Red Shoot Camping Park, for the history which follows!

"The ancient woodlands of the New Forest come to life in mid-April with carpets of blue, indigo and purple bluebells and their heady scent fills the air.  These magical flowers are an ancient woodland indicator species, protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 making it illegal to pick, uproot or destroy them.  They hold a very special place in the hearts of British people and with that in mind, we thought you might like to know a little bit about them and where best to see them in the New Forest.

It is estimated that over half of the world's population of bluebells grow in Britain creating incredible carpets of gorgeous blue but they can also be found in white or shades of pink. Bluebells tend to like woodland areas, so the 34 square kms of broad-leaved inclosures in the New Forest are the perfect place to spot them.  By flowering early, bluebells can maximise on the sunlight before the trees in the canopy above have developed leaves and are an important early source of nectar for many species of invertebrate including bees, hoverflies and butterflies.

Throughout English folklore bluebells have been given many nicknames including 'witches thimbles', 'ladies nightcaps', 'cuckoo’s boots' and 'dead men’s bells'.  Their beauty is captivating and their nature mysterious and the fact that they thrive in the shadows, in places that few choose to tread, just goes to strengthen the belief that they are imbued with fairy magic.  It is said that fairies ring the bell-shaped flowers to summon their kin to gathering, but if a mortal hears this, the fairy enchantment can be fatal! 

Bluebells have had practical uses throughout the ages, Bronze Age people used the sap to set feathers upon arrows and the bulbs were crushed to provide starch for the ruffs of Elizabethan collars and sleeves.  According to ancient tales, monks from the 13th century believed in the healing powers of bluebells, using them to treat snakebites and leprosy despite the bulb's toxic nature. In modern times, scientists are exploring the bluebell's strong repellent properties against animals and insects. Some researchers even speculate that extracts from bluebells could potentially be utilised in the fight against serious diseases like HIV and cancer."

With thanks as above to Jaqui!

Go on a Bluebell Hunt!

Here in the New Forest, we have some of the most stunning bluebell woods; the flowers love the damp, shady conditions of our ancient woodland.

We wholeheartedly recommend braving the showers and heading out for a bluebell walk this springtime. We love exploring bluebell woods and here are a few suggestions on where to find bluebells near Lymington and in the New Forest area...

Please bear in mind though, that bluebell colonies take a long time to establish, around 5-7 years from seed to flower. It is against the law to intentionally pick, uproot or destroy bluebells. Try to avoid stepping on bluebells, they can take years to recover after footfall damage. If a bluebell’s leaves are crushed, they die back from lack of food as the leaves cannot photosynthesise.

Roydon Woods - near Brockenhurst

Roydon Woods is owned by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and this patchwork of ancient woodland, heaths, grasslands and streams is a sea of bluebells in spring. Roydon Woods is 1¼ miles southeast of Brockenhurst and the main entrance is at Setley. Wellies or walking boots are advisable as the paths can get rather muddy! Find out more about Roydon Woods here.

Bluebells Pondhead May 2017Pondhead Inclosure - near Lyndhurst

Pondhead is listed by the Forestry Commission as one of its top 10 Bluebell Woods in the UK. Bluebells transform the woodland floor into a dazzling lake of shimmering blue in this well-fenced, natural enclosure which is protected from wild deer and ponies. 

Bank - near Lyndhurst

The cycle route from Brockenhurst to Bank is a delightful, shady haven for bluebells - what better excuse for a bike ride in the forest?!

Exbury Gardens

There's plenty to see at these glorious 200-acre gardens, with woodland, parkland, ponds, twenty miles of pathways and the famous Rothschild collection of rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias. You'll find many areas of bluebells around the site, but Gilbury Lane Garden is the place to find stunning carpets of blue. Admission charges apply. Find out more about Exbury Gardens.

Royden Woods bluebells April18Furzey Gardens

The gardens were established in 1922 and focus on flowering shrubs and bulbs planted for year-round colour, with plants gathered from all over the world. Spring brings out azaleas and Chilean fire trees, along with carpets of snowdrops, crocus, bluebells, and daffodils. Part of the Minstead Trust, Furzey Gardens is a social enterprise supporting people with learning disabilities.

Broomy Inclosure - near Linwood

Broomy Inclosure is covered with stunning carpets of bluebells each spring. The woodland is in Linwood, New Forest, located just past the High Corner Inn.

Sandleheath - near Fordingbridge

This pretty village has many footpaths giving access to the local countryside. Many go through or are bordered by woods which are full of primroses and bluebells in spring and early summer.

Royden Woods Bluebells April 2018 



Discover Lymington: a walk to the Walhampton memorial

Discover Lymington: a walk from Lymington to the Walhampton Monument

From the Victorian station to the obelisk in memory of one of Lymington's most esteemed gentlemen

Lymington Town stationA walk from Lymington's Victorian station (now towered over by modern dwellings), across the Lymington river to the famous monument honoring Admiral Sir Harry Burrard Neale. From there visit Goodall's strawberries, New Forest Adventure Golf and/or Macdonald Elmers Court. A delightful stroll to the other side of Lymington, taking in a few historical tales en route!

The walk starts and finishes at Lymington Town station
Approx distance: 1.8 miles (3km) - approx 1 hour 
Walk: paths and gravel track


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Lymington station

Lymington Town Railway Station is a branch line from Brockenhurst. The official opening of the Lymington Railway Company's line took place on 12 July 1858, to the accompaniement of the town band and church bells. In 1884 the railway track was continued southwards to the new Lymington Pier station so that Isle of Wight ferries might perform at all states of tides.

Turn left and follow Waterloo Road to the main road, turning right to find yourself along the Bridge. 

Tollgate Lymington at Bridge StreetThe main path over the beautiful Lymington River, this bridge has a slightly darker history as part of a scheme by King Charles I, looking to raise money or to pay debts without money passing. All of the mudflats between Calshot and Hurst Castle were granted to Robert Pamplin, whose descendants decided to build a great dam across Lymington River, simultaneously upsetting the Corporation who introduced an action stating that navigation through the town would be disrupted if nothing was done to prevent it. Furthermore, ship owners were irritated by the dam’s effect on the river’s tides and the silt that it built up. This led to a toll being exacted on all who passed over the bridge.

The King is amused!

In 1899, King Edward VII was enjoying one of his first car rides as a passenger of the second Lord Montagu. Having passed through the Forest they were made to wait for an inordinately long time at the toll bridge, for, as to the amusement of the King, gatekeeper Mr G Gooden was vexed after an earlier driver had sped over the bridge without paying! Tolls continued until 1958.

Path to Walhampton MonumentAs you cross the bridge, note the difference on the left and right. Had the toll bridge not been built, the water would have flowed up river today.

After the bridge, turn right walk alongside the river, following Undershore. Follow undershore to the end of the metal barrier on the right hand side.

Walhampton monument by Tanya BaddeleyTo the left find a gravel track leading to private houses, just off this is a footbath to the Monument, indicated with a red arrow on the photo.

Follow the path through woodland to the Monument.

The Burrard Neale Monument is a tribute to Admiral Sir Harry Burrard Neale, who served in the Royal Navy and went on to befriend the king and act as a shipmate. Perhaps his most notable success was in 1797, when he extracted his ship out of the Mutiny of the Nore while keeping his crew under control. His family, who owned the Walhampton Estate from 1688, were very involved in the life of Lymington as Members of Parliament or Town Mayor. When the Admiral passed away in 1840, the obelisk monument was erected in his memory, and it remains there today to be enjoyed by the public.

After taking in the rich history behind the monument and appreciating its surrounding views, find Monument Lane to the rear of the monument.

Walk down Monument Lane and turn left back onto Undershore Road.

goodalls strawberries lymington strawberries punnetsBerries and Mini Golf

At Undershore Road, turn left and take care as the road narrows. Follow the path up to the next turning on the left which leads to Lymington Golf Centre, New Forest Adventure Golf and Goodall’s Strawberry Farm.

Goodall's strawberries are seriously the best - the best you'll ever taste. That combination of New Forest and sea air - cannot be beaten. And Goodall's do lots of other berries too, plus homemade cake. Take a pitstop in their 'Tearoom' and enjoy a moment of pure bliss relaxing with a proper cream tea with freshly picked strawberries.....The tearoom has plenty of space to run around and some toys for children too. Find out more about Goodalls here.

NF Adventure Golf 25 May 2018 Over the way, New Forest Adventure Golf is a simply fabulous way to pass a few hours as family or friends. An 18 hole crazy golf course based on the New Forest, complete with hand working Isle of Wight ferry and animals to spot at each hole. Who cares if the 10 year old beats you, I mean, really... (still trying to come to terms with that!) A great few hours for all ages - and with it's own little kiosk selling ice creams too, perfect in warm weather.

Now, for the totally lazy, combine your visit here with hopping on to the New Forest Tour bus. 

Otherwise, if you've not yet had your fix of tea and cake, head over the road to Macdonald Elmers Court Hotel to enjoy a traditional afternoon tea. 

Elmers garden viewElmers Court  

Elmers Court was once owned by the Whitaker family of nearby Pylewell Park. James Whitaker, MP and JP, used the building as a courthouse. During the Second World War it was requisitioned by the War Office and used to co-ordinate D Day landings. It was also used as a Spy Training School and was where the famous intelligence agent Odette Sansom Hallowes was trained.

Totally a hotel and country club, part of the Macdonald chain, Elmers Court's desirable location provides guests with exceptional views over and walks to Solent shore. Why not treat yourselves to a traditonal afternoon tea at Elmers Court (booking essential

From Macdonald Elmers Court turn left back down Undershore. 

ferry terminal LymingtonFerries to Yarmouth, Isle of Wight

You will pass the Wightlink ferry terminal on the left. 

Cargo was shipped to the Isle of Wight from May 1836 in specially designed tow-boats. In 1913 nearly 700 cars were carried on the Lymington-Yarmouth route. Cattle were also transported - leading to some frantic scenes as stubborn animals refused to embark, some ending up in the water!

The revolutionary MV Lymington came into service in 1948. This double-ended vessel was the first to use Voith-Scheider propulson, which enabled her to move in any direction without rudders. After early teething problems, the vessel carried 400 passengers and 16 cars which drove on and off specially constructed slipways. In March 1948, the larger MC Farringford joined the Lymington-Yarmouth service. 

By 1955, 42,000 cars made this crossing. On 21 September 1959, the Troon built MC Freshwater was added to the fleet and the river was dredged to enable two vessels to pass within its narrow confines.

As you walk along the road, you'll see The Ferryman on the right, previously known as the Waggon & Horses which dates back to 1643 as the Waggon Ale House. In 1893 there was a great tragedy here, when local gamekeeper Henry Card of Snookes Farm was debating about the mystery of Ardlamont Shooting Case, whether Lieutenant Hambrough could have shot himself from behind. Henry Card was demonstrating how such an act was feasible to Mr John Bligh, a visitor from London. Using his double-barrelled shotgun which he believed to be empty, Mr Card fired with the muzzle pointing at his head from behind. He fired, but the gun was loaded and he suffered mortal head wounds, dying in the tap room. Rumour has it that he haunts the pub today...

Carry on walking along Undershore back to the bridge. Cross the bridge then turn left down Waterloo Road towards Lymington Town station.

Bosuns garden summer1 800x600 minA secret garden before catching the train home!

From Waterloo Road, turn left up Station Street to find the Bosun’s Chair, a welcoming family-run pub with guestrooms that was originally a coach house. Great food and atmosphere, well worth a visit

Plus in fine weather we recommend the delightful garden hidden to the rear of the Bosun's - perfect for a drink or light meal! Read our review!

From the Bosun's Chair, head either back to Lymington Town Station or head into the High Street to explore Lymington further!




Discover Lymington: three historic walks around Lymington

Discover Lymington: three historic walks around Lymington

Take in the rich history of Lymington in three easy walks around town, saltmarshes and nature reserve

Town Trail three historic walks around LymingtonThese walks give an introduction to historic Lymington so that both tourists and residents can appreciate the history and development of the town. 

All three walks start and finish at St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery in New Street, where there is a lovely café - the perfect pitstop after your tour!

As you can see on the map (there's a larger version at the end of this article) the three walks are interlinked - we've attempted to make this clear below, whilst avoiding too much duplication. If in doubt, look at the fabulous illustrated map by Alan Rowe.

Walk 1 (red route) takes in the High Street, Quay and central Lymington

  • Approx distance: 1.25 miles (2km) - approx 1 hour
  • Walk: easy town paths

Walk 2 (blue route) continues with the Marinas and Sea Water Baths

  • Approx Distance: 2.2 miles (3.5 km) - approx 1.5 hours
  • Walk: Easy town paths, gravel track and country lanes

Walk 3 (green route) continues with part of the Solent Way and Normady Marsh nature reserve

  • Approx Distance: 4.4 miles (7 km) - approx 2 hours
  • Walk: Easy town paths, gravel track and country lanes

There is a larger version of the map at the end of the article - so that you can see easily where the three walks follow the same route or branch off.

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Start for all three walks: red, blue and green routes 

st barbe museum art gallery outsideSt Barbe Museum and Art Gallery is situated within a former Victorian schoolhouse. The museum explores the unique history of Lymington and the New Forest Coast. The art galleries host regularly changing exhibitions and often include works on loan from national and regional collections. St Barbe was refurbished in 2017 and now includes a delightful café.

Find out more about St Barbe Museum & Art Gallery here.

Walk Icon

All three walks start at St Barbe Museum & Art Gallery.

Walk towards the High Street. The Literary Institute on your left (dated 1846) was formed to promote the cultural and educational improvement of the townspeople.

Turn left into the High Street. From the Angel Inn, an 18th-century coaching inn and one of the oldest in Lymington (now the Angel and Blue Pig), and the Nags’s Head opposite (now Fat Face and Boots Opticians) coaches left for Southampton and London almost daily. Many of the town’s proclamations were announced from the first-floor balcony of the Angel Inn and the adjacent Assembly Rooms formed the centre of much of the social life of Lymington.

Often described as ‘Georgian Lymington’, the High Street of the town actually demonstrates a variety of architecture: Georgian, Victorian, Art Deco together with evidence of medieval origins and some modern 20th century infill.

Lymington was granted its first Charter between 1193 and 1217 by William de Redvers giving it Borough status. Various rights were granted including the right to hold a market (which still runs weekly on Saturdays).

Angel Courtyard LymingtonNumerous ‘courts’ running off the street can be seen to the left of the High Street, which once formed additional space for traders behind or between the street’s ‘burgage plots’. The plots can be identified because they are in multiples of perches – the basic medieval unit of measurement of 5 1⁄2 yards (5.03 m) wide. Until it was demolished in 1858, there was a Town Hall standing in the middle of the High Street, near the Angel Inn. Today's Town Hall, home of Lymington & Pennington Town Council, can be found in Avenue Road.

The largest 'court' today is Angel Courtyard, behind the Angel and Blue Pig, well worth a visit to the shops including the excellent A&J Seal Butcher, Roots & Fruits Greengrocer, Florist and Juice Bar, plus a little further on to Café Gelati.

Descending the High Street, notice the views of the Monument in the distance over the river in Walhampton. This granite obelisk commemorates the life of Sir Harry Burrard Neale, MP for Lymington between 1790 and 1835.

The Catholic church, through an entrance on the left, was designed in the late 1850s by Joseph Hansom (architect and designer of the ‘Hansom cab’). The gold-painted post box on the right is in recognition of sailor Sir Ben Ainslie, Lymington resident and the first person to win medals in five different Olympic Games in sailing.

quay street Lymington by Steve ElsonQuay Hill and the old Town Quay

Cross the road at the bottom of the hill into Quay Hill

As Quay Hill turns into Quay Street, the former pub The Old Alarm was named after the yacht built for Joseph Weld in 1821, at a time when yacht building was taking over from salt as a major industry in Lymington.

Lymington was once a busy port and during the reign of Edward I (1239-1307) was a considerable place of entry for French wines and other commodities.

The Quay used to be a bustling area, with sailing ships importing coal and timber and carrying away the salt produced locally. This would once have been a rough and disreputable area - many parents in Lymington forbade their young children from venturing anywhere near the Quay due to the uncivil behaviour of some of the residents living there, aggravated by the large number of ale houses packed into a confined area. Despite such infamy, these families around the Quay always rallied in support if their neighbours fell on ill times.

Lymington Quay c1900Present buildings on the quay include The Ship Inn (dating from 1850) and The House on the Quay (once a bakery and shipping suppliers) built in 1675.

Smuggling became an important part of economic life in Lymington towards the end of the 17th century and it received widespread support from the local community. Items smuggled included wine, brandy, silks, coffee, tea and other dutiable items. Stories abound of cellars and tunnels in the High Street. Goods were landed in creeks around Lymington and then taken inland as far and fast as possible by teams of packhorses and cart. Some smuggled goods reached Lymington residents and were concealed within their houses.

In 1900, a rowing boat (the ‘penny ferry’) would cross from the Quay to the old ferry house on the Walhampton side opposite. Most clients, however, paid 1⁄2 d, which only took them to the jetty behind the railway bridge.

A longer journey from town to Walhampton and the Isle of Wight Ferry would be across the river along Bridge Road (or toll house causeway) and the Undershore to the Wightlink Ferry terminal.

WALK 1 (red route) continued

Walk IconBranch here for WALK 2 and WALK 3 (see details below) or carry on with WALK 1

Walk past the car park and toilets, turn right into Nelson Place and walk up into Grove Road. The large and leafy open public space on the right is Grove Gardens. Follow Grove Road round to turn right into Church Lane.

Crinkle crankle wall LymingtonLymington’s wavy walls

Church Lane’s walls are both historic and of interesting construction.

The wavy (or ‘crinkle-crankle’) walls are built with only a single brick width - extra strength being given by the wavy shape.

The first wavy wall on the right was built by the author Dennis Wheatley (1897-1977) who lived at adjacent Grove Place. The wall survived after the house was demolished in 1969.

The wavy wall at Elm Grove House is thought to have been constructed in the early 19th century, possibly by Hanoverian soldiers when they were in exile in Lymington from the Napoleonic Wars.

On the right, the foundations of the walls clearly reveal a variety of materials. They are of considerable antiquity and marked the western boundary of the ancient 13th century Borough at the granting of the town’s charter about 1200.

Monmouth House and St Thomas

At the end of Church Lane is Monmouth House, probably the oldest complete domestic house in the town, dating from the late 1600s.

St Thomas Church Lymington in 1902The parish church of St Thomas has a commanding position at the top of the High Street. Parts of the building date back to 1250.

Returning along the High Street, behind the railing at number 48, we come to Bellevue House, built in 1765 and for many years the home of Charles St Barbe - banker, saltern owner and five times mayor of the Borough. Today this is Moore Blatch Solicitors. 

Ashley Lane, a passageway off the High Street has medieval origins dating at least to 1335 since when it has been called ‘Alremanne Lane’ or ‘Aishleys Lane’. Admiral Arthur Phillip RN lived in Ashley Lane 1798 – 1803. Philip, the first Governor of New South Wales, had sailed with the First Fleet to the proposed British penal colony that became Sydney.

Along Ashley Lane find Lanes Restaurant, formally a church and a school!

Back in New Street (just past St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery), on the corner with Cannon Street, is the Malt House. Having once housed French military emigrants in the 1790s, the Malt House now forms part of the thriving Lymington Community Centre - since 1946, the home of many cultural and educational clubs and associations as well as the area’s only cinema.

Find out more about Lymington Community Centre here.

This is the end of the walk - time for a pitstop at the St Barbe Museum & Art Gallery café!

WALK 2 (blue route) continued

Signpost at Lymington Quay

Walk IconContinue from the Quay along Bath Road following signs to the Sea Water Baths.

On the left is the Berthon Lymington Marina and boatyard. There was a boatyard at Berthon in the 16th century. Thomas Inman took over the boatyard in 1819 and built the trophy-winning Alarm in 1830 for the Weld family. In August 1851, the Alarm raced against the schooner America in the forerunner of the America’s Cup.

Lymington has been building boats since medieval times. It has been said that Lymington supplied more ships than Southampton at the time of the Armada - and during the reign of Edward III (1312-1377) furnished nine ships and 159 men for the defence of the realm - almost double that of Portsmouth!

Recently BHG Marine moved to Bath Road, find out more about this family business which last year celebrated their 70th birthday. Earlier this year BHG became part of Lymington Marina, a subsidiary of Berthon.

bath road flowers and bandstandPress Gang Cottage at number 10 (accessed via steps) was once The Old Harlequin Inn reputed as being the headquarters of the Press Gang in the early 1800s (groups of men under the command of an officer, employed to press men for service in the Army or here, the Royal Navy).

There has been a car ferry crossing to Yarmouth IOW since the early days of motoring in the 1900s. Replacing specially constructed rowboats in the 1830s, steamboats and barges ferried passengers and animals until double-ended car ferries were introduced in 1936.

Original gas light outside the Royal Lymington Yacht ClubThe Bath Road riverfront was once a place to listen to band concerts on the Victorian bandstand. The structure mysteriously disappeared during World War II to be replaced in 2000 by a new bandstand for the Millennium celebrations.

Next to the Royal Lymington Yacht Club is a large ornate cast-iron gas standard. Gaslighting came to Lymington in 1832. Two influential townsmen raised £3,000 to start the project and two local doctors proposed the formation of the Lymington Gas and Coke Company which would manufacture and supply the gas. Iron columns for the gas lights were presented to the town by Sir Harry Burrard Neale, while his brother George Burrard supplied the lamps. This commemorative column stood outside the Town Hall in the High Street from 1832 to 1858.

Facing the slipway is the RNLI Lifeboat station, home of the inshore Lymington lifeboat.

The Lymington Town Sailing Club occupies the former 1833 Bath House and just along the sea wall are the Lymington Sea Water Baths, the oldest open air natural swimming pool in the UK. The open air baths are now open daily in summer. Find out more about the Sea Water Baths here.

At the corner was once the boat shed of the legendary Lymington character Dan Bran (1869-1950). Dan was a boat builder and designer of the ‘Lymington Pram’ and also the Lymington Scow, still much loved and raced today. Unable to read or write, he worked ‘by eye.’ 

Walk along the gravelled path beside the marina berths to Lymington Yacht Haven.

Time for a pitstop at The Haven Bar & Restaurant, upstairs at the main Yacht Haven building. Open all day for breakfast, morning coffee, lunch, afternoon tea, sundowners and dinner, The Haven is perfectly situated for picturesque views across the marina to the Solent shore and mouth of the Lymington River. 

Walk IconBranch here for WALK 3 (see details below) or carry on with WALK 2

Bearing right beyond the main Yacht Haven building, turn out of the marina entrance and take Kings Saltern Road (to the left) then straight ahead to Brook Lane and branch left as the road becomes Waterford Lane. Waterford Lane comprises a wide range of residential property.

When Waterford Lane becomes Church Lane re-join Walk 1 (Red route) at Lymington's Wavy Walls (above) to get back to the High Street.

WALK 3 (green route) continued

Solent Way footpaths from Yacht Haven Lymington

Walk IconContinue from Yacht Haven building to the Solent Way

From the Yacht Haven building, follow the road and either cross the carpark and boat park to join the Solent Way (taking the signposted roped path left marked ‘Public Footpath Solent Way’) OR follow the marina to the left, through the berthholders carpark to a gated entrance to the Solent Way. (see red arrows on map)

The Isle of Wight and the western Solent form an impressive backdrop ahead whilst inland, inside the seawall to the right, are the mudflats, ponds and ditches of Normandy Lagoon forming part of the Lymington–Keyhaven Nature Reserve.

There are good views of the marshes and birdlife from the coastal path that follows the seawall. The area forming the lagoons was old salt workings. This is now the Normandy Marsh nature reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Lymington's Salt Industry

Salt Production in Lymington drawing by Thomas Rowlandson For more than 700 years Lymington was a principal manufacturer of salt. Until the end of the 18th century, there was a continuous line of salt works along the coastline from Lymington to Hurst Spit, the biggest area of sea salt production in the country. It brought great wealth to the town.

The salt workings (variously called salt pans or salterns) included evaporating ponds, boiling houses, wind pumps and docks for transporting coal and salt. By 1660 as much coal for the salterns was handled at Lymington as in London, with ships of up to 1,300 tons berthing at the Quay to load and unload.

The salt trade died in the early 1800s. There was a great local outcry in 1808 when the Government duty had reached 15 shillings a bushel, whereas the actual value of the salt was just 1 shilling. The trade had ceased by 1845, when cheaper salt from the Cheshire mines could be readily transported by rail.

Lymington's Nature Reserve

Walk along the sea wall path. From here you can see views of the Isle of Wight, Hurst Castle, the Needles and (looking inland) the cupola of St. Thomas Church.

salterns sailing club at Eight Acre PondIgnore the first gate on the right but continue to the sailing lake at Eight Acre Pond. During the late 1950s, Major Tony Hibbert MBE MC (1917-2014) had this 8 acre salt pan on his land dredged out to a depth of 3 feet to provide a safe place to learn to sail. He established Salterns Sailing Club in 1960 as a sailing club for children, run by children. Children learn to sail and race here, and get practical experience running a club in a safe environment. Over the years thousands of young people have learnt to sail at Salterns, developing a respect and love for the sea which has stayed with them all their lives. Many applied their experience in running the club to good effect, in running of other clubs and in their chosen careers. The Salterns has been a starting point and inspiration for many national and international champions in a myriad of classes. Find out more about Salterns Sailing Club here.

Turn right to walk either side of the small inlet. Join the road, bear right and then turn left into Maiden Lane. At the end of Maiden Lane turn right into Woodside Lane.

Woodside Lane has some pleasant properties, including the Manor House dating from the early 17th century. Turn left at the junction with All Saints Road, noticing The Old Sunday School - a charming detached cottage built in 1877 by Francis Crozier for the children of Woodside. The Millennium Gardens and the Woodside Gardens are on the left before walking along Belmore Lane.

Turn right into St Thomas Street to re-join Walk 1 at Monmouth House and St Thomas (above).

A paper copy of this map with walks is available at St Barbe Museum & Art Gallery. Map by Alan Rowe.

Photos in this article: thanks to Steve Elson and Ollie Baddeley

Historic Town Trail










Discover the New Forest: the Beaulieu Letters Walk

Discover the New Forest: Beaulieu Letters and Hatchet Pond Walk

East Boldre walk to discover a pond, a tumulus and an airfield with a pitstop at The Turfcutters Arms

Although at first sight flat and featureless, 4000 years of human activities lie concealed amongst the gorse and heather of Bagshot Moor and Beaulieu Heath. This walk passes by Bronze Age earthworks and the remnants of twentieth-century runways to one of the New Forest's most beautiful ponds. On the way they pass a fascinating row of letters spelling BEAULIEU.

Start & Finish Point: The Turfcutters Arms, East Boldre

Approx Distance: 3 miles (5.5km)

Walk: Easy, moorland, possibly boggy in parts, few actual paths.

Depending on time of year and weather conditions, the walk can be either a pleasant relaxing stroll, or some serious exercise after which you’ll thoroughly deserve your pub lunch or supper. In the best weather you might be enjoying the last rays of the sun towards the amazing sunsets we see across the heath from East Boldre or you might be bracing yourself against our prevailing winds blasting in across that same heath!

The Turfcutters Arms to the Beaulieu Letters

Set off from The Turfcutters Arms. You'll need to go out the back entrance across the forest or a short distance along the road, essentially making your way to the back of the village hall.

East Boldre Village HallEast Boldre Village Hall:

Built in 1917/18 as part of the Royal Flying Corps training airfield during WW1, it was used as an Officers’ Mess for entertainment with a lovely stage. At the end of the war when the other buildings demolished, the Officers’ Mess was left to the Villagers to thank them for their part in the war effort.

From the village hall cross Bagshot Moor towards the A3054 to a small hilly tumulus dating from the Bronze Age. Step up and enjoy the view! The area has been inhabited since prehistoric times and has over 30 Bronze Age barrows lie within the parish boundaries. 

Descend the Tumulus to the NE and follow the track NE towards the A3054. 

After 100m turn left and you'll find the Beaulieu Letters. When you get up close you’ll find the letters are really pretty big! And you may well experience a sense of the history of those early flying days of long ago.

Beaulieu Letters 600400

The Beaulieu Letters: 

Between 1910 and 1916, the word ‘BEAULIEU’ was carved into the heath at East Boldre, in letters approximately 4.5 metres (15 feet) high, making the whole word spread over 33.5 metres (110 feet). Some historians think that the letters date back to the WW1, RFC flying school and suggest that it appeared in about 1916. Another theory is that it was excavated for the 1910 flying school. The letters are quite unique. No other RFC or RAF training school had or has similar letters which suggests that it was not made for the WW1 military airfield. 

During the days of the 1910 civilian flying school, numerous races were held and maps of the day which show the circuits they flew, indicate that the aircraft raced across the heath to a certain point where they turned for the return leg of the race. Neither pylons nor flagpoles to mark the turning point were permitted on the heath but the turning point coincides almost exactly with the position of the BEAULIEU letters. (In fact, they did build a pylon but were immediately ordered to remove it.)

During these races both altitude and speed records were broken at East Boldre. The letters were covered up during WW2 and do not appear on any aerial photographs of the day. Over the years, the chalk was gradually covered with soil and vegetation. Some local people think that the letters were previously restored during the 1960s. Since then, nature has reclaimed the letters and, once again, they became barely visible. During March and April 2012, local villagers carefully uncovered the letters by excavating down to the original chalk infill. The entire restoration process was filmed by the BBC and was televised on the BBC1 programme, ‘A Great British Story.’ (Read more about this here)

Beaulieu Letters to Hatchet Pond

hatchet pond sky by Steve ElsonFrom the Beaulieu Letters, head towards the A3054 and take care crossing over to the entrance to Hatchet Moor car park.

Follow the track to the left from the car park entrance. Skirt round a small pond following the track to the left then down to a crossing across the stream.

Hatchet Pond: 

Hatchet Pond derives its name from a hatch gate that led into the heath from nearby farmland. It was formed from a series of marl pits - marl is a mixture of lime and clay and was used to improve farmland. One of the commoners' rights was to dig marl from the Forest earth to improve the quality of their agricultural land. Forest historian Heywood Sumner suggests that the action of the wind on the water collected in the pits wore away their edges so they joined to form a pond. Or they could have been flooded to supply water to a nearby mill.

Once you've crossed the stream, follow the track straight on alongside the long stretch of Hatchet Pond for approximately 0.5km then turn right and follow track parallel to the long side of the Pond approx 0.8km - with lovely views both across the Pond and towards the Isle of Wight on your right and forest vistas also behind, beside and ahead of you! You'll eventually reach the clump of Scots pines at the far end.

Then follow the track around the corner of the pond and then parallel with the gravel track down from the main Brockenhurst road.  (You may be lucky and see the ice cream van further up the track near the road - detour permitted!) You'll then be nearing the car park where most people congregate for the views, at sunset the photographers are lined up, and, not many people venture far from their cars so most of the humankind you'll see will be here.

Hatchet Gate cottage stands on the edge of the heath where the open Forest gives way to the farming lands, privately owned, around Beaulieu. The houses east of the pond follow the boundary line and are now called East Boldre - but the old name for them was Beaulieu Rails and cottagers here still say they live 'under the rails.'

Hatchet Pond to The Turfcutters Arms

From Hatchet Pond, follow the track through the car park and around the road side of the pond. Cross back across the B3054 and follow the Forest tracks parallel to the road back to The Turfcutters Arms.

The Turfcutters Arms:

turfcutters arms east boldre new forestThe Turfcutters Arms is a fabulous traditional pub with a welcoming atmosphere, great food (at affordable prices) and a super garden perfect for fine weather days. If you're looking for a great place to stay, the pub also has three self contained appartments, all well appointed.

According to Terry Townsend in “Hampshire Smugglers’ Pubs", in 1834, five years before East Boldre became a parish in its own right, the residents were described in a parliamentary report as “for the most part smugglers and deer-stealers”. During the smuggling era, turf (peat) was harvested here as an important source of fuel. The Boldre turf was an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation or organic matter unique to natural areas like the peatlands or mires found in this part of the Forest.

Local legend has it that smugglers would sink their wares in the Pitts Deep stream at a spot known as Brandy Hole - due south of East Boldre. Kegs would then be floated ashore by puns and then carried by a gang of local men to carts waiting a short distance away.

The name of the pub originates from the ancient rights of “Turbary”, which applied to the chimney and hearth of a property to cut a certain amount of turf for use as fuel in that hearth alone. The pub still retains a collectin of turfing irons.

Find out more about The Turfcutters Arms

Walk from the Turfcutters to Hatchet Pond  

Discover more things to do this half term: What's On in the New Forest over Half Term

To see what's on day by day, take a look at our Events Calendar for the Lymington, New Milton and New Forest and surrounding areas. Remember, if you're organising a local event then add your event to the Lymington.com calendar for free and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to find out about business membership which includes local advertising and promotion.

Take a look also at our Things to Do section, which includes Places to Visit, Walks and Leisure Activities.

And if you've not already subscribed to receive our FREE Weekly What's On newsletter, emailed every Friday morning and full of the latest New Forest events, news and information, subscribe here:

Remember to mention Lymington.com when you're out and about this half term!

With thanks to:

New Forest ponies walking past the Bell Inn in the forest at Bramshaw

New Forest Commoners Walk and Bell Inn Commoners Lunch

Would you like to learn first hand about the life of the New Forest commoners?  

Join TV star Tom Hordle and The Bell Inn for a very special experience 

New Forest ponies walking past the Bell Inn setting the scene for the New Forest Commoners WalkCommoner and TV star Tom Hordle and The Bell Inn at Bramshaw have joined forces to create a unique new attraction: a New Forest walking and lunch experience for locals and visitors. 

Walk with the commoners and learn about the New Forest, then lunch at The Bell 

As part of its determination to support, serve and promote the traditions and the produce of the New Forest, The Bell Inn at Bramshaw has teamed up with young beef cattle farmer Tom Hordle who featured in the popular TV show “A Year in the New Forest” and fellow commoner Lyndsey Stride, to host a series of “Commoners Walks” followed by “Commoners Lunch” at the Bell. 

This is a completely new and unique New Forest experience for locals and visitors: an educational whilst immensely enjoyable New Forest walk followed by a delicious lunch in convivial company at 2 AA rosette restaurant The Bell Inn.

On a fabulous spring day we were lucky enough to take part in the inaugural experience, which we’re delighted to share for the benefit of everybody else because we were so impressed and had such a lovely time - and believe that many of you would enjoy it equally as much! 

Book now for the next monthly walk!

In fact this fabulous “experience” is now on offer monthly from The Bell Inn, and you can book it here – plus see full details at the end of this article. 

bell inn new forest commoners - Tom HordleCommoners Tom and Lyndsey – expert and passionate about the New Forest

Tom, who is still only 26 years old, has his own farm and is steadily building his forest based business, with his herd of Hereford beef cattle - free roaming and grazing thanks to his rights of common on the open Forest.  He recently took part in the TV series “A Year in the New Forest” and came across on that excellent programme very convincingly; we were all greatly looking forward to meeting him and hearing what he had to say.

Meanwhile Lyndsey is one of the New Forest commoners behind the New Forest “Commoning Voices” project (details here). She is full of wonderful facts and stories about the natural history of the New Forest and the unfolding nature taking place all the time around us.

This is a unique opportunity to meet them both, in real life and real time to delve deeply into the reality of how practising commoners live and work, and to learn at first hand what is so special about the way the New Forest is managed.

Tom and Lyndsey are not only immensely knowledgeable about the New Forest but also delightful and great communicators - which makes listening to their every word interesting and enjoyable. 

Tom Hordle in front of his home on his Hereford beef farm in the New Forest

Coffee at The Bell Inn and scenic drive across the Forest

Our experience began with gathering at 9.30am at The Bell Inn, where there’s plenty of visitor parking close to the main entrance. NB - at this point one needs to don suitable attire to meet the elements too: for example wellies, waterproofs and layers; trainers and sun cream; or something in between. We had been blessed with a beautiful yet still quite crisp, spring morning but we all kind of knew in our bones that we would encounter some mud along the route somewhere!

Then it was a friendly meet and greet from Kimberley and her team at The Bell over an excellent cup of coffee or tea and introduction to our walking hosts who simply could not wait to start telling us all sorts of interesting facts about the Forest. 

In fact already we were learning about the various Rights of Common including the better known pasture and lesser known mast  – and from this moment on we were all riveted and involved.

Tom’s Farm and Harold the Bull

A beautiful ancient oak on our walking route on the Commoners Walk

A delightful mini bus journey from The Bell across this most picturesque part of the New Forest brought us into the farmyard of Tom’s Farm on the western fringe of the forest north of Ringwood close to Moyles Court, where Tom explained how he came to be here whilst Harold the Bull listened on - and here comes the first surprise. Tom was not born into a commoning family, the link is through his great grandfather Jim but whilst a young boy he felt it in his blood. 

So he found a local farmer to take him on as a kind of apprentice, went to agriculture college, worked for 5 years for the National Trust and in 2010 was able to buy this 4 acres of land, on which thanks partly to a LEDA grant he built his first shed.  From there he continued to develop his farm including most recently the tiny but perfectly formed living accommodation for himself and his fiancee – who’s from Dartmoor where life is even more rugged!

Tom started his beef business with a Limousin bull and the emphasis on fast turnaround with indoor “finishing” elsewhere, but then switched to Herefords who would spend their whole happy lives grazing on the varied terrains and soil types of the forest, taking twice the time to maturity - but as one of the group, a local butcher from farmersbutcher.co.uk declared, we would not taste a better beef than this!

Tom’s Walk

bell inn new forest commoners11 WALK 2 800

Once everybody had saved their breath for the steep ascent onto Rockford Common there was a good deal of chatting as the chosen route across beautiful forest incorporating fabulous views in all directions became a gentle stroll past the grazing cattle and New Forest ponies, all the time with either Tom or Lyndsey stopping to point out something tiny but significant which most of us would have passed by in blissful ignorance and missed on the rich detail... although we all couldn't help spotting the open air exercise class! 

Asked “why do you common?” Tom and Lyndsey’s joint reply was that forest life is all about community, family and hobby combined and you simply don’t calculate the time you spend “working”. Where others play golf or go running the commoners will be hunting on horseback for their cows on the forest. The key is that they love it, if they didn’t they would judge the return on their time investment poor indeed.

Undoubtedly everybody’s walk experience will be subtly different even on the same walk – on future walks in later spring and into the summer there will be many differences so we will now leave you to imagine and anticipate – and book yours!

And now for our well deserved Commoners Lunch!

Following the return (equally magical) motor trip back across the forest we arrived back to The Bell Inn for lunch.

Welcoming 2 AA rosette dog friendly Bell Inn

The Bell Inn at Bramshaw won the New Forest Dog Friendly Restaurant of the Year 2018

The Bell Inn is a proudly independent 18th century coaching Inn, cleverly situated just a mile away from J1 of the M27 yet also quietly nestled in the picturesque northern section of the New Forest.

Its cosy, comfy, country atmosphere envelops you as you pass through the main entrance and are greeted by the friendly reception staff.  The oak and flag stoned floors are a reminder of the history of the building and the heart of the Inn is its double-sided fireplace where everybody gathers.

Guests are encouraged (together with their canine companions if they wish - in fact The Bell Inn won the 2018 New Forest Dog Friendly Restaurant of the Year Award!) to soak up the surroundings and sink into sofas whilst sampling fine local ales, then to dine in the 2 AA rosette restaurant. 

As must by now be evident, The Bell is keen to support and promote New Forest traditions and produce. 

New Forest Commoners Lunch at the Bell Inn Bramshaw

Mark's Lunch

The Bell Inn Chef Mark Young believes passionately in sourcing his ingredients locally and has made it his business to ferret out the best, which today included Tom’s beef on which we royally lunched in the form of a wonderful steak, ale and wild mushroom pie served with buttered new potatoes, tender purple sprouting broccoli and new season asparagus. The pudding which followed was definitely in the decadent category: a gooey chocolate cake covered with caramel, chocolate sauce and divine ice cream.

The conversation continued to flow as we lunched all together around a big table and many more interesting snippets of commoning life emerged.  Then finally everybody went their separate away after a thoroughly enjoyable as well as educational experience. 

Commoners Walk and Lunch at the Bell – what's included

The ticket price is £65 per person and includes the welcome coffee or tea at The Bell and introduction to Tom, transport to and from the farm following one of the most scenic routes in the New Forest (passing places only but we’re not driving!), all the time in the world for the long and delightful morning of exploration and discovery, and finally the delicious 2 course Commoners Lunch at The Bell.

Upcoming Tom's Walk dates

The next Commoner Tom’s Walk takes place this Friday 17 May and is already fully booked; the following date is Friday 7 June which currently has spaces so book now!  

For more information visit The Bell Inn website  or simply email or call Kimberley on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 02382 140539.

Read more about the Rights of Common here.

Learn about the local area with Lymington Town Tours

Learn about the local area with Lymington Town Tours

Walking tours on Wednesdays and Sundays in the Lymington area.

Lymington Town Tours are designed to entertain, capture the imagination and give a lasting interest in events from the past which have shaped the area we live in. They will affect the way local people and visitors view their surroundings as they go about their daily lives and hopefully add colour to the way the see the world around them.

Lymington town toursThe Tours were initially devised by a group of friends who researched local history and anecdotes from the past for fun and came to realise, after seeing tours in other locations, that they had enough material to warrant sharing this in a similar manner. So they started providing tours over 30 years ago with the founding tour of Lymington Town from its Norman origins to the present day, starting from St Thomas' church to the oldest settlement of the town, the Quay.

Tour Guides are all trained volunteers who relish the chance to take people round and share the stories which now cover a variety of walks in and around Lymington, Pennington, Milford and Buckland. They take place every Wednesday evening and Sunday morning from May to October. There is no booking system, just turn up at the meeting point detailed for each tour. There is no formal charge to join a tour but realistic donations are welcomed to help meet costs as a vountary organisation.

Lymington Town Tours also provide private walks and illustrated talks for groups. There is a charge for this service.

Full details of walks on offer can be found in our Events Calendar or on www.lymington-town-tours.co.uk - which can also be used for any queries, booking private walks or talks - or to express an interest in becoming a guide.


Lymington to Keyhaven Nature Reserve

The Lymington to Keyhaven Nature Reserve.

Lymington's Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) is a great place to walk and enjoy nature.

Lymington to Keyhaven Nature Reserve map

Hampshire County Council purchased this beautiful area of coastline between 1973 and 2006 to protect its unique historical and wildlife heritage. The reserve covers nearly 200 Ha (500 acres) between the mouth of the Lymington river and the village of Keyhaven.

The adjacent mudflats and salt marshes outside the seawall are leased by Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and form their Keyhaven and Pennington Marshes Reserve. Together these two reserves ensure the protection of an extensive area of coastal habitat. Both reserves lie within the New Forest National Park, recognising their importance for both wildlife and people.

You can obtain good views of the marshes and their wildlife from the Solent Way which runs the length of the reserve. There are also several attractive circular walks on local footpaths which cross the area.

The reserve is open every day of the year for quiet informal recreation on designated paths and tracks.

Pennington MarshesManagement of the reserve

Control of water levels, salinity and grazing are crucial. During the summer cattle and ponies from the New Forest graze the reserve. Grazing animals help control scrub and invasive species such as rush. Many of the specialist plants and insects depend on wet ditches and ponds being of the right salinity. A system of sluices and tidal flaps are used to control flooding and water flow around the reserve.

How you can help

  • Please ensure dogs do not foul paths or enter areas where birds may be nesting, roosting or feeding
  • Please take your litter home. Leave this beautiful coast for others to enjoy
  • Please stay on the footpaths and ensure all gates are closed
  • Cyclists please be considerate to other users on narrow paths

Lymington's lagoons are a rare and special habitat

Lymington to Keyhaven nature reserveJust inside the seawall lie a series of shallow, brackish lagoons connected to the sea through a system of sluices and tidal flaps. The salinity in these lagoons varies widely, but is generally lower than seawater. This specialised habitat supports its own distinctive plants and animals, some of which are only found in this type of environment. The lagoons are some of the most important in Britain with populations of rare species including Foxtail Stonewort, Lagoon Shrimp and Starlet Sea- anemone. In winter the flooded lagoons are home to wildfowl such as Mallard, Shoveler and Teal. Spring and autumn bring migrant wading birds including Whimbrel, Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint. The islands within Normandy Lagoon enable Little Tern, Ringed Plover and Oystercatcher to breed in relative safety.

The marshes provide varied wildlife habitats and coastal grazing

The mosaic of ponds, ditches, and lagoons on the reserve support a large number of wetland plants and animals. In winter wading birds including Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew and Lapwing feed in the flooded pastures alongside Wigeon and Brent Geese. Spring sees the arrival of migrants from the south. Wheatears appear on the shingle at Iley Point and Whitethroats sing from clumps of bramble along the Ancient Highway. In early summer look out for Linnets and Stonechats perched on Gorse bushes around the reserve. Plants flowering on the seawall include Sea Pink, Rock Samphire and Sea Campion. In late summer the ditches are full of the purple- flowered Sea Aster, often attracting Wall Brown and Painted Lady butterflies. Several species of dragonfly patrol the waterways catching insects or searching for a mate. Mammals too make a home on the reserve, Roe Deer and Hares are frequently seen around Normandy Marsh while numerous mice and voles provide food for hunting Barn Owls.

Eighteenth century sea salt boiling houses in LymingtonHistory and archaeology of the salterns

The landscape we see today has been shaped by more than 2000 years of human activity. If you look carefully there are signs of a major industry which once thrived here. The manufacture of salt Salt was made by impounding seawater in shallow lagoons, known as salterns where it was left to evaporate. Wind pumps were then used to draw off the brine solution into large metal pans where it was heated until only the salt remained. A series of narrow docks were constructed to enable sailing barges to import coal for the boiling houses and to export the salt. Moses Dock is the only remaining navigable dock, but other examples include Maiden Dock and Pennington Dock. The production of sea salt was important in this area from Middle Ages until 1865, when cheaper mined salt from Cheshire forced the closure of the last saltern. The Lymington-Keyhaven Nature Reserve contains the best preserved examples of medieval and later salt workings in southern England.

Download the Lymington-Keyhaven Nature Reserve leaflet 868kb pdf

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