On a fine day, there’s nothing better than taking to the waters in and around the New Forest. Whether you fancy an educational cruise, a relaxing paddle or exploring the wider area, there are several options available to you. Take a whole day tour, a short cruise, a fishing trip or even a ferry crossing with a difference! Read on to discover more…
Cruise some of the New Forest’s rivers and harbours
Cruise along Southampton Water and The Solent on Steamship Sheildhall, a heritage cargo/passenger steamship, who was built on classic lines in 1955 and retains her original machinery and traditional wheelhouse.- and it's an access all areas on board Shieldhall!
The Beaulieu River is unique in that it’s one of the only privately owned rivers in the UK, owned by the Montagu family who own the Beaulieu estate. You can have the opportunity to sail along it if you make a visit to the pretty maritime village of Buckler’s Hard. River cruises operate from the jetty at the bottom of Buckler’s Hard’s High Street from Easter until the end of October and are discounted if booked in advance in conjunction with Buckler’s Hard admission. The cruises run regularly throughout the day and a later cruise is also added on during August. Along the way look out for interesting wildlife and learn about some of the history of the river from the on-board commentary. A fascinating insight into the history and importance of this river to both man and wildlife.
Based in the pretty seaside town of Lymington, Puffin Cruises have been offering sigh seeing boat trips for over 20 years. From 30 minute river tours and bird watching trips to private charters, Puffin Cruises has something for everyone. They also host educations trips for schools, small parties and intimate events including ashes scatterings. The staff at Puffin Cruises are fully qualified skippers with many years experience and a wealth of knowledge.
Ferry journeys with a difference!
Now you may not instantly think of ferry journeys being very exciting, however there are several ferry trips you can do in and out of the New Forest that offer a great way to see our coastline. The Hythe Ferry, for example crosses Southampton waters and takes passengers from Hythe to Southampton (and vice versa). Not only can you often see some of the majestic cruise liners that dock in the Southampton waters, you will also get to take a trip on the original 1920s pier train at Hythe. The ferry also connects up with the New Forest Tour Bus allowing you to have an easy car free day out.
The Hurst Castle Ferry operates from April to October and takes passengers from Keyhaven to Hurst Castle. A popular thing to do is to walk one way of the journey along the Spit and return the other way by booking a single ferry ticket. Passing the salt marshes, you will likely spot some of the area’s magnificent wildlife including wetland-favouring birds and marshland flora. Friendly dogs on leads are also welcome aboard the ferry.
Lymington is one of the key ports for people wishing to go to the Isle of Wight with Wightlink ferries offering regular ferry crossings to Yarmouth. With a short 30 minute journey, this is a great way for families to make a day trip to the island to see attractions such as Blackgang Chine and Osborne House. The ferry takes not only foot passengers but those with cars as well. Advanced booking is strongly recommended particularly during the school holidays and Bank Holiday weekends.
Alternative tours on the water
If you are looking to do a spot of sea fishing then there are several boat companies that offer charters or scheduled sea fishing trips from Lymington, Keyhaven and Buckler’s Hard. Whether you are an experienced angler or simply fancy a day out on the water with a taster session, there are various options available to you.
Ok so not technically a boat trip but if you want to take to our waters then why not paddle to a pub with New Forest Activities based in Beaulieu? Take a canoe along the Beaulieu River for an ideal way to explore this beautiful waterway. Alternatively, canoes and kayaks can be hired for your own explorations and various tours are offered for groups, families and for stag and hen parties.
Whichever way you fancy to taking to the waters, you will be sure to have a great day out. Plus, why not make a break of it and stay at one of our nearby places to stay so you can relax after a busy day’s exploration of our waters?