Bournemouth to Beaulieu

Journey from Dorset into Hampshire via historic coastal towns

Follow the route - Bournemouth to Beaulieu


Bournemouth to Christchurch

> Leave Bournemouth on the A35 and head east for 5 miles (8km) to Christchurch.

Visiting Christchurch

Formerly Twineham, this town was one of Alfred the Great’s walled strongholds against the Danes, between the Rivers Avon and Stour. The walls have long gone, and dominating the busy centre now is the fine 12th-century priory church, the reason for the town’s change of name. Legend has it that a beam, cut too short, was lengthened and positioned overnight by a mystery workman, thought to have been Christ. Within easy reach are the museum, art gallery and ancient Place Mill on the Quay.

Places to stay in Christchurch

Grosvenor Lodge

Brantwood Guest House

The Kings Arms

Nearby Burley Manor

Christchurch to Ringwood

> Take the B3347 to Ringwood.

Visiting Ringwood

Upstream on the Avon lies this unassuming bustling market town. The trout fishing is good here, and the town has many attractive Georgian and Queen Anne houses, with a splendid Early English parish church near the bypass. Nearby, on the A31, is the Avon Forest Park, with many acres of contrasting meadow, heath and moorland. From Ringwood you can take in the New Forest, which spreads east and north. A narrow road between old gravel pits, converted into reservoirs, brings your first taste of the Forest at Moyles Court. The manor house, now a school, was the home of Alice Lisle, who sheltered the rebellious Duke of Monmouth’s men, and was sentenced to death by Judge Jeffreys. The route winds through open heaths and lovely woods to high parts of the Forest, past the spot where the late naturalist Eric Ashby made his fascinating films of the badgers, foxes and other creatures that thrive here. If you want to walk you are spoiled for choice: forest tracks with shafting sunlight to your right, high sandy ridges with panoramic views and open heathland to your left.

Places to stay near Ringwood

Moortown Lodge

Woolsbridge Manor Farm Caravan Park

Back of Beyond Touring Park

A walk near Bolderwood

Ringwood to Bolderwood

> Leave Ringwood by the A338 signed Salisbury, then turn right in 2 miles (3km) on to an unclassified road and continue east for about 5 miles (8km) before going under the A31 for Bolderwood.

Visiting Bolderwood

Here, in the heart of the New Forest, the Forestry Commission has created three waymarked walks of different lengths among the trees, which range from native oak and beech to foreign wellingtonia. Try the walks here. There are many deer in the New Forest, but normally only the silent, the patient or the fortunate see them – except at the Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary, where a sighting is guaranteed; bring your binoculars. Nearby is a memorial among the pines dedicated to Canadian fliers serving at Stony Cross who were killed in the war.

The ponies which wander in parts of the Forest are not wild, but belong to Commoners, people living in the Forest with rights to graze animals (and to an annual ration of free cordwood for their fires). Look out for the brand mark of the owner; every autumn the ponies are rounded up and rebranded, and surplus ponies are sold at the Beaulieu Road sales. Feeding the ponies is illegal.

You might like to stop at the Knightswood Oak, reputedly the oldest in the Forest (over 500 years old) and 21 feet (7m) round. At the Reptile Centre at Holidays Hill (on the A35, just east of your crossing point), the less squeamish can get a close-up look at the native vipers and adders.


Rhinefield House Hotel

Bolderwood to Rhinefield

> From Bolderwood follow an unclassified road southeast across the A35 to Rhinefield and on to Brockenhurst.

Visiting Rhinefield

Towering above you are some of the tallest conifers in Britain – Douglas firs, redwoods and spruces – planted in 1859 as an approach to Rhinefield hunting lodge, now demolished. Behind the drive, on either side, are attractive mixed woodlands of oaks, beeches and pines, through which runs the 11⁄2-mile (2km) Tall Trees nature trail.

Rhinefield House, nearby, is a hotel housed in a bizarre Victorian creation that is half-castle, half-house. You can have a meal or afternoon tea here.

Brockenhurst is a lively and prosperous village, popular as a centre for New Forest camping and touring. Within the shadow of the Norman/Early English church lie the bones of Brusher Mills, New Forest character and killer of snakes.

Places to stay near Rhinefield

Rhinefield House Hotel


New Park Farm Cottages



Rhinefield to Lymington

> From Brockenhurst turn right on to the A337 for Lymington.

Visiting Lymington

Signs of Lymington’s early prosperity as a salt town, spa and seaport can still be seen in the charming houses which line the quay and the wide High Street climbing the hill. The town enjoys a different sort of maritime wealth these days as a popular yachting centre. The Isle of Wight car ferry snakes down the Lymington River through serried masts of luxury yachts. Two buildings of particular note here are Pressgang Cottage, by the quay; and Georgian St Thomas’s Church at the top of High street, unusual for its cupola.

Places to stay in Lymington

Britannia House

The Old Mill

Needles House

The Master Builder's at Bucklers Hard

Lymington to Bucklers Hard

> Leave Lymington by the B3054 signed Beaulieu and in 6 miles (10km), just before Beaulieu, turn right for Bucklers Hard.

Visiting Bucklers Hard

When you leave your car on the edge of Bucklers Hard, prepare to step back in time. Little has changed here since 1800, when this was one of Britain’s shipbuilding centres. Three of the ships which fought under Nelson at Trafalgar were built here. Twin rows of shipbuilders’ cottages, carefully preserved, slope down to the water, where the slipways were. Some are open for the public to view, and a Maritime Museum tells the story of this unique place.

Places to stay at Bucklers Hard

The Master Builder's at Buckler's Hard

The Montagu Arms Hotel

Meadow Lodge


Exbury Ornamental Botanical Gardens

Bucklers Hard to Exbury

> From Bucklers Hard head back to Beaulieu and turn right, cross the river and in 1 mile (1.7km) turn right for Exbury.

Visiting Exbury

The name of de Rothschild is synonymous with wealth, and at Exbury House, home of the banking family, no expense was spared to create the magnificent 200-acre (81-hectare) woodland garden, which is open to the public. Crowning glories here are the displays of rhododendrons and azaleas, best seen in late spring.

Beside the waters of the Solent, Lepe Country Park offers a chance to picnic or walk along the shore, with lovely views across to the Isle of Wight. To the east is the Spithead shore near Portsmouth; ahead, Cowes and Osborne, Queen Victoria’s final home; and to the west, Yarmouth, Hurst Castle and the open sea. Half a mile (1km) of crumbling concrete marks the point where D-Day’s Mulberry Harbour was made. Evenings can be particularly lovely here, and big ships describe wide arcs as they follow the deep water out to sea.

Places to stay at Exbury

The Master Builder's at Buckler's Hard

The Montagu Arms Hotel

Meadow Lodge

Exbury to Beaulieu

> Return to Beaulieu.

Visiting Beaulieu

Charming Beaulieu, with its pond and river, is the setting for a world-famous museum. The National Motor Museum stands in the grounds of 13th-century Beaulieu Abbey, home of the Montagus, which retains much beauty despite the destruction wrought after the Dissolution. A monorail winds through the 3rd Baron Montagu’s modern showcase for over 250 vintage cars and motor­cycles. The collection includes record breakers Bluebird and Thrust 2, and there are many other attractions in the grounds.

Places to stay near Beaulieu

The Montagu Arms Hotel

The Master Builder's at Buckler's Hard

Meadow Lodge

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