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New Forest beaches and coastal spots holiday cottages

New Forest beaches and coastal spots

A day at the beach or a walk by the sea probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the New Forest, however, on the southern edge of the National Park you will find that the area is blessed with some gorgeous coastline and beaches. Within a short drive of our New Forest cottages you will find a variety of pretty coastal spots, from nature reserves to quiet pebbly beaches.

Head to these New Forest beaches and seaside spots to discover all that this stretch of coastline has to offer. Here's our guide to the best beaches in the New Forest:

Hengistbury Head

A nature reserve home to a variety of wildlife, including 300 different bird species, Hengistbury Head encompasses woodland, heathland and saltmarsh and juts out of the mainland between Bournemouth and Christchurch, a few miles west of the New Forest. Walks can be taken across the headland on the gravel paths or along the New Forest coast, or a land train also runs from the car park to the spit and harbour entrance. It also has a Visitor Centre, where you can learn more about the area’s geology, ecology and archaeology.

  • Long stay car park
  • Disabled access: smooth paths, land train and Land Rover service
  • Dogs welcome year-round
  • Toilets on-site
  • Food and drink available

Avon Beach

Avon beach

Found in Mudeford on the outskirts of Christchurch, Avon Beach is one of the best beaches near the New Forest and enjoys views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight and The Needles. Perfect for families looking for a bucket-and-spade day out, the beach also has an area dedicated to water sports. It has a range of facilities so you can truly make the most of a day out here, from beach huts to a children’s play area, a café and an ice cream kiosk.

  • Ample parking
  • Disabled access
  • Dogs welcome between October 1st and April 30th
  • Toilets and showers on-site
  • Cafe, restaurant and shop available
  • Beach huts for hire

Friars Cliff Beach

Found slightly to the east of Avon Beach, Friars Cliff Beach is lesser-known than its neighbour, with a sandy and slightly stony beach. Beach huts line the promenade at the back of the beach, with the views out to sea reaching over to the Isle of Wight. It’s also the western starting point for a scenic walk through the Steamer Point Nature Reserve.

  • Parking at Steamer Point car park
  • Dogs welcome between October 1st and April 30th
  • Toilets and showers on-site
  • Cafe, restaurant and shop available
  • Beach huts for hire

Steamer Point Nature Reserve

Steamer Point Nature Reserve
Credit: Instagram @rubyflowerfairy

 

Steamer Point hugs a long stretch of Dorset’s coastline, and features both woodland and aquatic habitats which attract a variety of wildlife. Trails weave their way through the woodland and past two ponds which are always buzzing with life. Beneath the cliffs is a quiet stretch of beach, reached either from Highcliffe Castle to the east or a mile-long path from Friar’s Cliff Beach to the west.

  • Long-stay car park
  • Dogs welcome between October 1st and April 30th
  • Toilets on-site

Highcliffe-on-Sea Beach

Highcliffe is home to Dorset’s most easterly beach, with the main town being up on the cliff some 300 metres above. Just a five-minute drive from the border of the New Forest, Highcliffe enjoys a beach with a mix of sand and shingle, as well as all of the amenities you could need. It’s even crowned with its own castle, where you can take a tour of the many rooms and the surrounding gardens and grounds.

  • Long-stay car park
  • Disabled access: tarmac paths at eastern end of the beach
  • Dogs welcome between October 1st and April 30th
  • Toilets on-site
  • Cafe on-site

Barton-on-Sea Beach

Barton on Sea beach

Just over the border, Barton-on-Sea is one of the best beaches in Hampshire and offers some magnificent coastal walks over the clifftops. For longer-distance walks, the beginning of the Solent Way footpath lies just a stone’s throw away. Famous for its fossil beds, this stony and sandy beach is also a great place for swimming.

  • 3 car parks
  • Dogs welcome between October 1st and April 30th
  • Toilets on-site
  • Cafe, restaurant and shop available
  • Beach huts for hire

Milford-on-Sea Beach

Another one of our favourite Hampshire beaches, Milford-on-Sea is a traditional seaside village enjoying a range of good places to shop and eat alongside its coastal scenery. Colourful beach huts line the long shingle beach, which looks out across the Solent as well as to the Purbeck Hills, Hengistbury Head and Christchurch Harbour. Keyhaven and Hurst Spit can also be found right next door.

  • 3 car parks
  • Dogs welcome year-round
  • Toilets on-site
  • Cafe and ice-cream kiosk on-site
  • Beach huts for hire

Keyhaven and Hurst Spit

Keyhaven is a small and quiet coastal village, as well as the gateway to the Lymington to Keyhaven Nature Reserve. Covering 500 acres of marshes, the Solent Way passes through the reserve, making it easy to explore on foot, and the area is especially rich in birdlife. Sticking out of the headland is Hurst Spit, a mile-long bank of shingle, with the magnificent Hurst Castle, a 16th century artillery fort, found at the end. Walk along the spit to reach the castle, or you can also take a ferry there from Keyhaven.

  • Long-stay car parks
  • Dogs welcome year-round
  • Disabled access: smooth footpaths
  • Shops and places to eat in Keyhaven and Lymington

North Solent National Nature Reserve

North Solent nature reserve
Credit: Instagram @xwigglex

 

One of Hampshire’s largest nature reserves, the North Solent National Nature Reserve is found entirely within the New Forest, meeting both the sea and the mouth of the Beaulieu River. It follows much of the river estuary through heathland, ancient woodland and valley mires, with grazing marsh found by the coast where rare bird species can be spotted.

  • Parking available in Beaulieu
  • Dogs welcome year-round
  • Disabled access on the Solent Way
  • Facilities in Beaulieu village

Lepe Beach and Country Park

Found in the south-eastern corner of the New Forest, Lepe Country Park covers a mile of coastline, with cliffs above, where a large area of grassland covered with pine trees make for the perfect picnic spot. At low tide, the shingle beach and mudflats become more exposed, and remains of wartime defences can be found at the eastern end of the beach. The Lepe Lighthouse is also a popular focal point for many photographers.

  • Long-stay car park
  • Disabled access: all-terrain wheelchair for hire
  • Dogs welcome year-round in country park, April-September only on the beach
  • Shop and cafe on site

Calshot Beach

Found at the very edge of the New Forest seaside along a spit, Calshot beach forms part of the mouth of Southampton Water. A great spot to watch ships go by, this mile-long shingle bank is a popular base for water sports, including windsurfing, kitesurfing and sailing. One of Henry VIII’s many artillery forts, Calshot Castle, can also be explored at the end of the spit.

  • Long-stay car park
  • Dogs welcome between October 1st and April 30th
  • Cafe and shop on-site
  • Toilets on-site
  • Beach huts for hire

Stay on the Hampshire coast

Daisy Cottage – Barton | Barton-on-Sea | sleeps 4


Daisy Cottage

Less than a mile from Barton-on-Sea beach, this charming character cottage has Victorian charm with a totally refurbished interior for a stylish and cosy home-from-home. Enjoy a post-swim drink on the terrace in the summer or warm chilly toes by the open fire in the winter after a bracing beach walk.

Lighthouse | Milford-on-Sea | sleeps 6

Lighthouse

Enjoy incredible coastal views from this cliff-side home – the wrap-around veranda is the perfect spot for watching the sun go down with a drink in hand. It’s a short walk to Rook Cliff where there’s a stretch of sand at low tide, or walk around a mile to Milford-on-Sea beach and village amenities.

Old Telephone Exchange | Beaulieu | sleeps 2

Old Telephone Exchange

Nestled in the New Forest with lovely lakeside views, this lovely lodge is also only 2.5 miles from the North Solent National Nature Reserve. Inside is chic but cosy country-style accommodation with luxurious touches, perfect for a romantic getaway. For an extra-special occasion, book a table at nearby Michelin-starred restaurant, The Terrace.

 
 

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