New Forest National Park
Superb riverside walk between the picturesque village of Beaulieu and the historic shipbuilders hamlet of Bucklers Hard. The walk is suitable for pushchairs and there are great views of the river through the oak trees that come down to the waters edge. The walk follows part of the Solent Way long distance footpath and passes through a National Nature Reserve which has boardwalks and a bird hide where you can view the wildlife.
Where to start: Beaulieu
This is grid reference SU 387022 on the OS Explorer OL22 map.
Start: SU 387022 - Start at end of the high street in Beaulieu, by the Montagu Arms Hotel. You will see the Abbey Stores and Post Office which is a National Park Local Information Point and a good place to pick up additional information or ask questions. Leaving the store, turn left and head up the high street, turning left again by Norris’ shop on a footpath signed ‘Buckler’s Hard 2 miles’.
Follow this path around the edge of the sports field, passing through two kissing gates. Turn right at the end of the path following the signpost to Buckler’s Hard. Follow this track through a gate marked Solent Way; you will see the Beaulieu River on your left.
To avoid the kissing gates, you can walk along the front of the Montagu Arms Hotel along the B3054, turn right onto the Solent Way, passing the Fire Station, and rejoin the route at the end of the playing field.
- SU 391017 - The route follows a track; after about 500m you will enter the North Solent National Nature Reserve. The reserve is special because of its ancient woodland, saltmarsh and important birds. Look out for the white plumage of the little egret feeding in the shallows and listen out for the bubbling call of the curlew. The path leads along a field edge until you get to some cottages at Bailey’s Hard. Follow the path past the cottages – it is well signposted 'Footpath to Buckler’s Hard' – and then turn left onto a straight track through the woodland.
- SU 396012 - After about 100m you will come to a sign giving you a choice of two routes to Buckler’s Hard. The riverside path winds alongside the river and has several sections of boardwalk. The path can get quite muddy, as the river is tidal. The woodland track heads directly to the Hard. You may hear the drumming sound of a woodpecker in the woodland.
- SU 406007 - The paths rejoin at Keeping Marsh. A few hundred metres after the hide the path skirts a boat yard and a car park. Follow the path which is well signposted to Buckler’s Hard Village and you will come to the river again with Buckler’s Hard ahead of you. The 18th century village is where many British naval warships were built, including Agamemnon, Admiral Nelson’s favourite ship.
- SU 409000 - From Buckler’s Hard, return to Beaulieu by retracing your steps, possibly taking the other choice of path at Keeping Marsh.
- Length: 7 km / 4.5 miles
- Time: 2 hours
- Grade: Easy
- Download walk and map for printing
- Access: See terrain, steps and stiles
- Get here:See bus, train and car directions
- Facilities:See parking, food and toilets
Terrain: Tracks and footpaths, can be muddy after heavy rain. Flat throughout. Some boardwalk.
Train: Nearest train station- Brockenhurst is 6 miles away (no direct bus service, go via Lymington), between Bournemouth and London (South West Trains 0845 6000 650).
Bus: Bus Beaulieu, No.112, Wilts and Dorset Traveline 0871 200 22 33 . The New Forest Tour also runs from mid-May to end August www.thenewforesttour.info
Car: 5 miles south of Hythe on the B3054 to Lymington.
Parking: Free parking is available at Beaulieu Motor Museum (SU 384029), situated a 10 minute walk outside Beaulieu on the B3056. A small pay and display car park is available in Beaulieu itself (SU 386021), £2.00 for 4 hours.
Refreshments: Beaulieu village: various cafes and shops. There is a charge to enter the various attractions at Buckler’s Hard.
Toilets: Beaulieu village car park.