Hythe and the Waterside

Hythe is a small town on the shore of Southampton Water.

The settlement of Hythe has been recorded from as early as 1293 and has been a crossing point over Southampton Water for centuries. Until the start of the 20th century, Hythe was a small fishing village. It was the development of the British Power Boat Company which transformed Hythe in to much of what can be seen today. In the 1930s, T E Lawrence (also known as Lawrence of Arabia) was seconded to Hythe and lived in the village for a year. During WWII, Hythe’s excellent access to the English Channel meant that it was used as a port for motor torpedo boats and RAF air/sea rescue boats.

1960 saw the arrival of Sir Christopher Cockerell (the inventor of the hovercraft) and the Hovercraft Development Company to Hythe. That, and the expansion from nearby Fawley Power Station saw Hythe village become a small town. You can find a memorial to the hovercraft in the gardens of The Grove, adjacent to the original test slipway. Cockerell remained in Hythe until his death.

Falling within the civic parish of Hythe and Dibden, Dibden is a small village dating from the Middle Ages. All Saints’ Church, within the village, was built around 1291 and was destroyed in an air raid during WWII. It was restored and reopened on 2 April 1955 using much of the original material.

Things to do in Hythe and the Waterside

Hythe is steeped in maritime history and today, visitors can still enjoy a panoramic view of the boats and passing ocean liners from stylish Hythe Marina, as well as loads of other things to do.

Hythe has witnessed some legendary maiden voyages such as the Titanic in 1912, the QE2 and, more recently, the superliners. Why not see which cruise ships you can spot on your visit?

Jump on board the Hythe Ferry for a cruise to remember! Embark from the town's Victorian pier and take in all the sights at Southampton harbour and the New Forest's busy waterfront, including views across to the cruise ships.

The unique electric train that runs along Hythe pier is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest working pier train in the world - so why not take a ticket to Hythe and discover it for yourself? At 640 metres long, the 19th century iron pier is one of the tenth longest piers in the British Isles.

Stroll along the new promenade or the Georgian High Street for a spot of shopping or lunch - there are plenty of pubs restaurants to whet your appetite.

The weekly Tuesday Street Market, also on the High Street is a popular addition to the town and brings with it stalls selling flowers, local produce, jewellery and more.

See if you can solve the clues required for the Hythe Marina Treasure Trail - a fun activity for all the family. Taking approximately two hours to complete and on a route of around two miles, it’s an enjoyable way to explore the local area.

Why not hire a bike from the Cyclexperience shop in Hythe and wind your way along the cycleways into the New Forest? Or take a coastal walk, bike ride or nature trail at nearby Lepe Country Park.

The Solent Way long-distance walking route passes through Hythe and walkers can make the enjoyable six mile route to Beaulieu following the coast of the Southampton Water. Or, if you fancy shorter walks then Hythe and Dibden Parish Council has some short ‘health’ walks around the town passing interesting buildings, wildlife and other places of interest.

Two courses and a driving range make up the Dibden Golf Centre - a lovely setting with views towards the Southampton water. Golf lessons are available and keep a look out for monthly events taking place including family fun days and open air cinema.

Being close to the water, visitors to Hythe are also near to water sports activities at Beaulieu and on The Solent with Calshot Activities Centre. Calshot Activities Centre also have lots of brilliant indoor activities too, including an amazing climbing complex, a dry ski slope and a velodrome!

Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway are just a short drive away from Hythe and are particularly colourful during late spring with the flowering rhododendrons and azaleas. Beaulieu, with the National Motor Museum, Palace House and Abbey and the shipping village of Buckler’s Hard is also within an easy reach of Hythe and Dibden.

Plus, if you fancy a day’s retail therapy, the city of Southampton with its indoor shopping centres and cinemas is just a short ferry journey away.

Events in Hythe and the Waterside

There's loads of events that take place in Hythe and the Waterside throughout the year. In addition to the regular Tuesday market, occasional themed markets take place in Hythe including ‘France at Home’ and ‘Italia in Piazza’. Keep an eye on our what’s on pages for details of these events.

Events at Lepe Country Park for families occur throughout the year and include school holiday activities, bat and wildflower walks plus bush craft events.

The Hythe Mistletoe Fayre is a popular event at Christmas time and includes the arrival of Father Christmas by the Hythe Ferry, what a way to make an entrance!

Keep an eye on our what’s on pages for details of other events planned when you visit.

Places to stay in Hythe and the Waterside

If you fancy staying in and around Hythe and the Waterside then there are a couple of options available for places to stay.

Calshot Campsite is the perfect place to pitch your tent for stunning views of sunrise and sunset across the Solent.

Where to eat and drink in Hythe and the Waterside

There are lots of options for places to eat and drink in both Hythe and the Waterside, including of cafes & tearooms, pubs and takeaways, with a few lovely restaurants too.

Getting to Hythe and the Waterside

If coming by car, the A326 offers easy access into Hythe and the Waterside from the Southampton area. An alternative way to get to Hythe from Southampton is by the Hythe Ferry. Not only is this is quick and easy journey but you can take in some of the sights of Southampton Water too, including perhaps a cruise ship or two!

For more information about Hythe and the Waterside please head to - https://www.lovehytheandwaterside.co.uk/.

Or take a look at Visit Hythe's fantastic online leaflet - http://www.visithythehants.co.uk/.

Hythe & the Waterside FAQs

What is Hythe famous for?

Hythe is famous for being home to the world’s oldest pier train! It’s also well known for being a crossing point over to Southampton for centuries.

What famous people are from Hythe?

Hythe was home to the inventor of the hovercraft, Sir Christopher Cockerell, for many years. Hythe was also home to T E Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), the famed British archaeologist, army officer, diplomat and writer, in the 1930s.

What does Dibden Purlieu mean?

Dibden is referred to in the Domesday Book of 1086 as ‘Deepdene’, ‘dene’ is an Anglo-Saxon word for Valley. Purlieu is a Norman-French word for ‘the outskirts of a forest’.

Explore the town...

Freedom Boat Club

With over a mile of beach, pine fringed cliffs, wildflower meadows, woods and historic D-Day remains, Lepe Country Park is the ideal place to relax and watch the world go by.

Check out our Come with us to Hythe video...

Follow Visit the New Forest on Instagram