Autumnal walks in Milford on Sea
There’s no better time of the year to enjoy a walk in the New Forest than Autumn and Milford on Sea is no exception. We’re lucky enough to have so many walks on our doorstep that take in some breathtaking sea views, amazing wildlife and the tranquillity that we all need from time to time.
First up is the Lymington and Keyhaven Marshes Nature Reserve walk that always delights whatever time of year. You can walk or cycle all the way from Keyhaven Harbour along the coastal footpath to Lymington, with spectacular views across the saltmarshes and mudflats.
During late autumn and throughout the winter, you are likely to see hundreds of Brent Geese, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Shelduck, three species of plover; Grey, Ringed and Golden on the salty mudflats, which is also rich in coastal and marine plants like Yellow-horned poppy, Sea Campion, Sea Aster and Golden Samphire. These are usually found along the high tide water marks on the seaward side of the sea walls.
You might spot Long-tailed Duck, Eider and Red-breasted Mergansers out on the water as you overlook the area towards Hurst Castle and the Isle of Wight. Looking inwards across the important and protected saline/brackish lagoons, you may see one of the hunting birds of prey like the Marsh Harrier, Peregrine or Merlin here.
There are fantastic views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight here. If you fancy walking the whole sea wall to Lymington from Keyhaven, it takes approximately two hours, otherwise there are a network of footpaths for shorter routes.
Parking is available at Keyhaven (there is a car park opposite the Gun Inn pub) where fees apply.
One of the best-hidden Milford walks is the 14 acres of Woodlands known as The Pleasure Grounds with a network of footpaths along the Danes Stream, which runs parallel to the coast.
The Danes Stream forms part of the Milford on Sea conservation area and runs the length of the parish, through the Pleasure Grounds, Westerly towards Studland Common, Sharvells Copse and Eastwards along the rear of the Milford on Sea shops towards Sturt Pond.
This area is popular with children as a number of rope swings can be found. Free roaming cattle can be on Studland Common so please keep dogs on a lead.
A path well trodden is the Hurst Castle walk . You could start your walk to Hurst Castle from the Hurst Road East car park (sat nav: SO41 0PY) and head down to The Lighthouse restaurant and keep going along Hurst Spit.
It is a 2 mile walk to Hurst Castle along a shingle spit so sturdy footwear is advised. There is a ferry from the castle back to Keyhaven if you’re looking for something a bit different on the way back, where you can relax and watch the wonderful wildlife at home on the Keyhaven River.
You can also start this walk from Keyhaven and car parking is available here (sat nav: SO41 0TP). There is also The Gun Inn to enjoy at the end of your walk.
Positioned right in the heart of Milford on Sea is Sturt Pond Nature Reserve, a great coastal walk, accessed from the village centre via Sea Road and then turn left into Hurst Road.
The 27 acre nature reserve can be found next door to The Lighthouse restaurant and there is a hidden sanctuary called ‘The Hide’ (found in The Lighthouse carpark) for you to watch the birds without disturbing them.
Dogs are welcome and are best kept on a lead (or under control) to minimise disruption to wildlife.
Whilst visiting us, don’t forget to explore the New Forest further afield and enjoy its autumnal colours, with one of our favourite walks at Bolderwood and the Blackwater Tall Trees Trail with a collection of trees from around the world.
In Autumn, the New Forest is home to the picturesque sight of roaming pigs snuffling around in the wild. These pigs are taking part in the annual pannage, a tradition that goes back hundreds of years. They have an important job to do – eating up all the acorns that may be harmful to other forest animal inhabitants.
There’s nowhere else in the UK where this happens, so make the most of seeing this ancient practice, taking place across the New Forest from mid September into late November.