New Forest Beaches
Many people don’t associate the New Forest with a coastline, in fact it stretches from Totton nr. Southampton through to Barton on sea going west and runs for 40 miles. There are plenty of beautiful beaches for you to visit whilst you’re here.
Whether it’s a boiling hot sunny day, or a cold crisp morning, the New Forest coastline is a wonderful place to go for a walk, have fun with friends and family or to catch some rays whilst doing some relaxing sunbathing.
Here, we explore some more of our local beaches that you can enjoy on a visit…
Barton on Sea
Situated at the eastern end of Christchurch Bay, the seaside village of Barton on Sea has outstanding views across the Solent and Isle of Wight with a good, safe, shingle beach.
Barton on Sea’s prehistoric links and fossil beds add to its interest when walking the long-distance footpath, the Solent Way.
The shallow waters around the fossil beds at Barton on Sea allow for safe bathing. There are also some enjoyable clifftop walks here. Take in the views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight and along the coast towards Bournemouth in the west and Hurst Castle in the east.
Colourful beach huts sit in front of the clay cliffs and line the shingle beach.
Dogs are allowed on the beach during the winter months but must be kept on leads.
Milford on Sea
At Milford on Sea, take in the wonderful views of Hurst Castle, the Needles and the Solent from this small seaside town. Milford is located just along the coast from Barton on Sea to the east .
The beach areas in Milford-on-Sea are perfect for fishing, swimming, walking, water sports and bird watching.
Slightly west of Milford-on-Sea is Hordle Cliff Beach, accessed from a steep set of steps. Although this is another shingle beach, at low tide a sand bar is exposed.
From Milford-on-Sea take a walk eastwards along the long, shingle and steeply banked Hurst Spit. The two-mile spit curves around leading you eventually to Hurst Castle. Here you can make a visit to the castle and learn about the fascinating history dating from Tudor times (please note there is a charge for entry). The spit is a popular spot for beach fishing, with mackerel and sea bass often caught, depending on the season. If you don’t fancy the walk back then you can pick up the Hurst Castle Ferry linking you back to nearby Keyhaven.
There are lots of shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants within a short distance of the beaches at Milford on Sea and it’s a perfect place to relax. If you fancy trying out some water sports then Milford-based The New Forest Paddle Sports Company offers stand up paddle boarding and kayaking, with beginner’s lessons also available.
Dogs allowed on the beach out of season.
You won’t often get a chance to see a working tide mill in action, so it’s worth a visit to the old quay where you’ll find the only working tidal mill in the world. There are good walks along the reed-lined river and over the bridge. Make a visit to the interestingly named Goatee Beach for some great views across the Southampton Water. Parking is nearby and there’s a picnic area just behind.
Lepe is a popular coastal country park located near Exbury; with over a mile of beach and pine fringed cliffs with stunning views across the Solent. Historic D-Day remains, wildflower meadows and a children's play area can be found here. There is something for all the family to enjoy. Lepe is also a great place to take the dogs (although dogs aren’t allowed on the beach during the main school summer holiday).
You can access Lepe by public transport as well, just catch the Lepe Bus (B*9 Extension).
Calshot beach is a long, shingle spit which stretches out into Southampton Water. At the end of the spit you will find Calshot Castle, built by King Henry VIII to defend the south coast. It is also home of the popular Calshot Activities Centre which offers rock climbing, water sports and a velodrome.
Colourful beach huts line some of the beach and you can expect fantastic views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight. It’s also a great spot for doing some boat watching as the majestic cruise liners making their way in and out of Southampton Water heading for the port.
The beach at Calshot is also a popular spot for sea fishing plus there’s the small Bluebird Café which offers refreshments and snacks.
Dogs are welcome on the beach but please check for restrictions on arrival. There’s also a car park adjacent to the beach.
A beautiful Nature Reserve on the coast which covers nearly 500 acres between the mouth of the Lymington River and the village of Keyhaven. Walk along the Solent Way footpath which runs along the coast side of the reserve or enjoy a circular walk within the reserve that are on local footpaths.
There is an abundance of wildlife here at the reserve, on a good day you could spot some of the following: Foxtail Stonewort, Lagoon Shrimp and starlet Sea-anemone, wildfowl such as Mallard, Shoveler and Teal as well as wading birds including Whimbrel, Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint to name a few.
Dogs are allowed along the sea wall at Keyhaven.
Other nearby beaches
Just past our 'New Forest Coastline' are some other stunning beaches that are definitely worth a visit. Highcliffe and Avon Beach are the next beaches over from Barton on Sea and are great for a long walk or to grab an ice cream and enjoy it whilst sat on the sand. You'll find Mudeford Spit and Hengistbury Head next, part of a beautiful nature reserve with amazing views and wildlife. Not too far away are Southbourne, Boscombe and Bournemouth!