The Sea Air Trail
Start your day with a morning dip in the Sea Water swimming baths - the oldest lido still open in the UK. A gentle stroll along the Solent Way through the Lymington to Keyhaven Nature Reserve with glorious views across the Solent towards the Isle of Wight brings you to Keyhaven and Milford on Sea. You will arrive back in Lymington in time to explore the shops or sample some New Forest ice cream whilst watching the world go by on the Old Town Quay.
Don't forget your binoculars or camera for the wildlife and stunning views.
Start off your walk at the Marina and the Yacht Clubs. This area is home to the Sea Water Baths - open from June to September from 10am to 7pm (weather permitting). An ideal spot for a morning dip, the baths have known for their health benefits since the late 18th Century.
From here, take the path which skirts the perimeter of the pool and is signposted for the Solent Way. The Haven is a good spot for coffee amongst the boats in the boatyard, before following the sea wall around the Nature Reserve. The Lymington - Keyhaven Nature Reserve is home to a wide variety of bird species, so take your time to see what you can spot. On a clear day the views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight are spectacular and if you are lucky you may even be able to spot the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth in the distance. The path here is easy to follow, with several maps displayed along the way to point out your location.
In Keyhaven, you will find the Gun Inn, ideally located as a lunch spot.
After lunch you have several options, either walk on in to Milford on Sea, where there are plenty more eating establishments and shops, or alternatively take a trip to Hurst Castle. Hurst Castle was built by Henry VIII as a fortress to defend the Solent. There is a small admission charge.
To visit the castle you can either head back on to the sea wall (turn right out of the Gun, and follow the gravel track) and walk along Hurst Spit. Please note: this is a heavy shingle spit, so stout footwear will be needed. Otherwise, you can catch the ferry to Hurst - when you leave the Gun, turn right, and as the road bends, turn left and walk through the boat yard to the ferry.
To return to Lymington, you can either catch the X1 bus (operated by Wilts and Dorset) from Milford on Sea to the Bus station in Lymington High Street; retrace your trail back along the sea wall, or you can follow the ancient highway for a more direct walk back in to Lymington. The ancient highway, starts at the end of the sea wall by the car park in Keyhaven and takes you to the car park at the end of Lower Pennington Lane from where you can either make your way along the footpaths and lanes or head out on to the sea wall back to Lymington.
A great way to finish off your trail would be to sample some delicious New Forest ice cream whilst watching the sailors, fishermen and the world go by down at the Lymington Quay. There is a New Forest ice cream shop along the cobbles on your right hand side, offering a wealth of flavours to try.
Sea Water Swimming Baths, Lymington - 01590 678882
The Haven, Lymington - 01590 679971
The Gun Inn, Keyhaven - 01590 642391
Hurst Castle & Ferry, Keyhaven - 01590 642344
Traveline (for bus information) - 0871 200 22 33
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