This is a small area, but one you must visit. I love this very old part of town. Ancient cottages, Georgian houses, cobbled street - it doesn't take much to imagine the old smugglers, who used to land their contraband fom Europe in this area, struggling up the cobbled street with their barrels of brandy!
Quay Street is at the bottom of the town's main street and leads down to the waterfront and marina, past interesting little shops, restaurants and it has a pub at either end.
The international yacht marina is a fascinating place to sit and relax while you watch the yachts berthing or leaving. There's plenty of activity on them, but it's very relaxing to watch. Many are local yachts, but there are always some from Europe too.
You'll also see fishermen, ferries to and from the Isle of Wight and tour boats, so there's plenty going on to keep you interested.
Favorite thing: Although you're asked not to feed the animals, they will often pester you for food. This mother and baby donkey came to our table at Hatchet Pond as soon as we sat down, knowing from experience that where there's people there's food. They're hard to resist but it's in their own interests that you don't give them any. They get so used to people feeding them that they're attracted to dangerous places like roads, and sadly many of them are killed and injured every year.
Favorite thing: Around Hatchet Pond is great area for walking. It's pretty flat and not heavily wooded so it's quite easy. There are things of interest all over the place, not just the wild animals but in spring and summer a carpet of very pretty wildflowers.
If you're interested in history, visit the 13th Century Church of St. Thomas the Apostle, at the top of the High Street.
As with most churches in the UK, the wall plaques, headstones and so on tell lots of individual , and often moving, stories.
In between Lymington and Beaulieu in the New Forest is one of our favourite places, Hatchet Pond.
It's a large pond which the animals use as a watering hole, so you'll see plenty of ponies, donkeys, often herds of cattle and many types of birds. It has some picnic tables, a car park and plenty of picnic spots.
For a relaxing few hours on a warm sunny day, especially with a picnic, it's as good as anywhere!
The ancient seaport and historic market, town of Lymington was once greater importance than Portsmouth and played a major part in defending the south coast against the French invasion.
Fondest memory: The High Street is full of interesting shops and on every Saturday becomes a hive of activity when it is lined with market stalls selling everything from vegetables to fabric and tools to antiques.
Hurst Castle is situated at the seaward end of the shingle spit which extends 1½ miles from Milford-on-Sea. The end of the spit, only ¾ mile from the Isle of Wight, was the perfect location to defend the western approach to the Solent. The castle was built by Henry VIII as one of a chain of coastal fortresses and was completed in 1544.
Fondest memory: Charles I was imprisoned here in 1648 before being taken to London to his trial and execution.
The castle was modernized during the Napoleonic wars and again in the 1860’s when the enormous armored wings was constructed. Two of the huge 38 ton guns installed in the 1870's can still be viewed in their casemates. During World War II, Hurst was manned with coastal gun batteries and searchlights.
Favorite thing: A critical element in the improvement of the defences of the south coast by Henry VIII was the protection of the Solent, for this stretch of water gave access to the important ports of Portsmouth and Southampton. Calshot Castle was strategically situated to provide their protection. Calshot was sited on a shingle spit close to the deep water channel at the mouth of Southampton Water. Although one of the smaller of Henry VIII's forts, its three-storey keep and outer curtain wall nevertheless gave it full command of its position.
From the 17th century until the early 1800's Lymington was particularly renowned for its salt which was considered especially pure due to the two-stage production method. This involved partly evaporating sea water in salt pans before reducing it down to crystals over open coals. Most of the salt thus produced was exported for use in the Newfoundland salt cod trade which made the quay quite a busy place as the boats carried the salt away whilst coals were imported.
The present day quay is pretty much unchanged from those days with its set of narrow cobbled streets - it's easy to imagine it as a busy port from that time with both its legitimate and dodgy dealings.
It still is a busy quay though - certainly in summer. As a working harbour there are about a dozen fishing vessels using it as a home port year round and as a leisure mooring there are about 100 berths which can take a variety of craft.