The railway first arrived in Lymington in 1858 when the 5.6 mile single track branch line from Brockenhurst was completed. As well as servicing the town the line runs to Lymington Pier where it adjoins the Wightlink ferry port.
Nowadays South West Trains operate the service. Trains run every thirty minutes, with a journey time of about ten minutes, and the short journey is fabulously scenic with forest, heathland and then river views as the final section, from Town to Pier, crosses the Lymington River.
For such a short journey this is actually quite expensive at £3.50 for a single ticket (Sept 2012) but if just visiting for the day the return is only 10p more expensive.
Both Town and Pier are quite basic stations with few facilities and in fact about the only thing at Pier is the ticket machine (note tho' that the ferry terminal is open to the public, not just ferry passengers). At Town the local buses stop on the forecourt with regular services to Southampton and Bournemouth and during the summer the open top New Forest tour bus.
Brockenhurst is on the mainline between London Waterloo and Weymouth and has regular services provided by South West Trains and Crosscountry. From London the journey time is about 90 minutes.
For connections, including arriving by bus, use the "other" website.
Ferries have been running between Lymington and the Isle of Wight for hundreds of years. In the early days these were often fishing boats who could be chartered to do the run. In 1830 a regular Lymington to Yarmouth service commenced, using the wooden steamer "Glasgow".
Once the railway arrived in 1858 it was only a matter of time before the ferry operation was taken over and in 1880 the London and South West Railway Company purchased the route. In 1923 Southern Railway was formed to amalgamate the various railway companies and on the 1st May 1938 the purpose-built car ferry, the "Lymington" was introduced. She was a revolutionary boat, with a propulsion system called Voith Schneider’ propellers which consisted of twin, five-blade, rotors which protruded from the bottom of the hull and could be pitched independently, thus negating the necessity for a rudder. The Lymington had the capacity for 17 cars and 516 passengers and with a speed of 10 knots could make the crossing in about 30 minutes and with the Voith Schneider system had the ability to make her turnarounds about her own axis.
In 1948 Southern Railways became part of the nationalised British Railways and the ferry eventually became under the stewardship of Sealink, the nationalised arm of British Railways. Sealink was reprivatised in 1984, becoming part of Sea Containers Ltd, and the Lymington and Portsmouth routes to the Island were rebranded at Wightlink in 1991,
2005 saw Wightlink being bought by the international fund management group, the Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund, who in 2007 bought three new vessels, Wight Light, Wight Sky and Wight Sun, who now run the present-day set-up.
Between the three boats they offer up to three sailings an hour during the summer months, and two during the winter, with a crossing time of about 30 minutes. These still use a modernised version of the Voith Schneider propulsion system and have a capacity of 65 cars and 359 passengers.
Website below is pretty comprehensive with up-to-date timetables and fares.
This summer I saw the funniest thing ever for the forest... an open-topped bus with a little trailer attached for your bicycle, that takes you all around the forest (including lymington).
For tourists it is actually quite a good idea as public transport in the area leaves a little to be desired, especially the prices. When it starts again next summer, I'll try to find out a little more info about it....
You can walk nearly everywhere in Lymington if you are feeling energetic, the entire high street is about a mile long. I wouldn't advise walking from Lymington to Milford or Brockenhurst along the main road (A337) as the traffic is fast and the paths infrequent.
Call 01590 688888 or 01590 673827 to order a taxi or wait in the taxi rank next to Boots the Optician.
There are two small stations in Lymington - one on the Pier and one in the town - that are connected to the Lymington - Brockenhurst flyer. Once you get to Brockenhurst (the only station out of Lymington on this line), you can get to anywhere on the Weymouth Waterloo line.
This line was under threat of being shut down but has been saved from extinction by being turned into a heritage line. They use the old slam-shut doors and are painted in the historic green colour. This makes it not only funtional but a new tourist attraction, hooray!
The buses run fairly regularly in and out of Lymington - They go to Bournemouth (bus 123) or Southampton (bus 56) on different routes, and buses run less frequently to the smaller towns and villages like Boldre, Beaulieu and Pennington. Its probably best just to check the timetables at the bus station once you are there.
There is an information office at the bus station, which closes in the afternoons. However, you can get bus passes and extended tickets here, plus information about local places to go and see.
The bus station is on the high street, opposite Superdrug and Threshers.
Many visitors to this Georgian Town of Lymington arrive by car, or train and Lymington boasts two train stations. Even coaches come to Lymington.
With an Explorer Ticket you can travel anywhere you like on most Willts and Dorset buses. With no time restrictions you can make an early start and break your journey where you like (Adult £ 5.50, Child £ 2.75, Family £ 11.00). A Busabout gives you unlimited travel for any consecutive seven days period.