A delightful riverside walk taking you from the picture-postcard village of Beaulieu, along the banks of the tidal stretch of the Beaulieu River. Great for bird spotters and history buffs alike – you’ll end in the famous shipbuilding village of Buckler’s Hard.
Note: This walk route has been updated to take account of the new riverside loop paths created to protect sensitive wildlife habitats.
Starting from the Beaulieu village car park, cut through the small path to the high street.
You’ll see many of the buildings bear the Montagu family crest of three red diamonds. The Montagu family’s Beaulieu Estate covers 9,000 acres of this southern part of the New Forest.
The path continues more-or-less straight for about 500m until it crosses a stream at Jarvis’s Copse.
When you emerge from the trees, the path continues across open fields again for another 400m before reaching Bailey’s Hard Lane. Follow the signposts on to the path towards Buckler’s Hard.
After 120m, you’ll reach the entrance gate to the north riverside loop. Go through the gate on your left and follow the path along the boardwalks.
This stretch of the river was renowned for building the great wooden sailing ships of the Royal Navy. At Bailey’s Hard, the Salisbury was built in 1698 – it was the first of over 50 ships built for the Royal Navy along the river over the years. Others included the Agamemnon – Admiral Horatio Nelson’s favourite ship.
Exit the north loop and turn left back onto the straight path through the forest. Continue for 450m before you come to the entrance gate to the south loop. Go through the gate and again follow the riverside boardwalks.
Shortly after the exit to the south loop, you’ll see the entrance gate to the Keeping Marsh bird hide. A short boardwalk takes you to the hide and the chance to spot some of the abundant bird life on the river.
Follow the path from Keeping Marsh behind the Agamemnon Boat Yard. Cross the road at the entrance to the boat yard down a small lane back towards the river. Then follow the Solent Way sign until you come to the village of Buckler’s Hard.
You’ll pass the Duke’s Bath House – dating back to 1760, it was built by the Duke of Montagu to help treat his son, the Marquess of Monthermer, who suffered from arthritis. A pool in the back garden filled with salt water from the Beaulieu River which it was believed would help relieve the condition. The thatched house is now a private holiday rental cottage.
Buckler’s Hard is where Henry Adams and his shipwrights built ships for the Royal Navy in the 18th and early 19th Century. The houses in Bucklers Hard are wide apart to allow whole oak tree trucks to be rolled down to the waterfront – a single ship could use up to 2,000 full seized oak trees. The museum at Buckler’s Hard is worth a visit if you want to learn more about the village’s remarkable story.
Retrace your steps back to Beaulieu – taking the direct woodland path instead of turning off on the riverside loops.