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Insider’s Guide to Milford on Sea

Your essential guide to living like-a-local in Milford on Sea...

Milford on Sea is a lively and vibrant village. It sits on the coast and has extensive beach front which is sandy at mid-low tide.

The beach is always bustling in the summer months with windsurfers, kite surfers, kayakers and paddle boarders, plus swimmers enjoy the quick swim to the sandbar where groups gather to chat or splash around in the surf.

This area of the New Forest is usually overlooked and let’s hope that continues. Those clever enough to visit will find pretty seaside villages with knockout views, good shopping, endless beaches that have yellow sand at mid to low tide, lines of colourful beach huts, good cafes and fabulous views of the Isle of Wight. Rarely busy, there are fewer tourists than many of Britain’s beach areas, and tacky tourist shops are rare!


Seaside bliss, dog-friendly, family-friendly... and all together rather lovely -  Milford on Sea is just fab for a New Forest escape!

Retail therapy...

The village green is the heart of the village. It is surrounded by great cafes, local independent shops, an excellent butchers shop, and a smattering of some really lovely wine bars and restaurants. You’ll also find a greengrocer which does good seasonal and local veg’, a pharmacy, various independent shops and good pubs.

For the foodies...

Verveine Seafood Restaurant – Foodies must go. It is rated highly by locals and on social media. Their menu is created to include a mixture of favourites alongside new and seasonally inspired creations using the very best ingredients. There is a choice of 4, 6, 8 course meals

The Cave – Drinks merchant and tapas bar in the centre of Milford village. Informal, atmospheric, jolly and well loved by locals. A warm welcome is ensured at any time of day, albeit with a light lunch, afternoon tea/coffee, through to pre-dinner or after-dinner drinks to finish off your evening in style.

Saltwater Cafe and Bar – This laid-back cafe can be found just off the main village green and is the perfect spot for breakfast or a delicious lunch.

The Wash House Bar – It’s a cross between a pub and a bar, with a very relaxed atmosphere. With an ever-changing choice of local traditional ales to choose from, award winning gins, spirits and wines there’s bound to be a tipple that takes your fancy.

The Needles Eye Cafe – Provides meals, snacks & New Forest ice creams on the promenade.

The Paddle on the Green – A fab cafe for breakfast and lunch with takeout options too.

The Coastal Bakery – For a breakfast top up, or lunch on the go, visit this gorgeous bakery for a freshly baked treat.

For seaside strolls...

Walkers will love the beach/cliff top path that runs from Milford to Barton on Sea – where you can stop at the Beachcombers cafe for a refuel before heading back. If you prefer a guided walk, local company Visit Milford on Sea offer some excellent ones including their ‘Discover Milford on Sea’s Hidden Woodland’ jaunt.

Milford on Sea Beach, is a long shingle beach with sand at the water’s edge during low tide. Character beach huts line the beachfront and there are great views of the Isle of Wight & The Needles. On a clear day, you can see the Purbeck Hills, Hengistbury Head & Christchurch Harbour. All are worth a visit and have their own vibe. Dogs are allowed on all Milford beaches, all year round, and seasonally at the more Westerly beaches (always well signposted).

For fresh-air-frolics...

Golfers can enjoy the challenging 27 holes at Barton on Sea golf club, where the picturesque views of the solent are utterly unmatched. Experienced visitors are welcome.

Nearby on the coast is Hurst Spit, a mile long shingle spit out to a huge WWII castle and fortifications. The Spit protects the sand bar that lies under it and along the coast here from erosion. So at med’ to low tide there is a fine and warm yellow sand that appears, and often a lagoon of warm water gets trapped by the beach – completely wonderful for children on holiday.

Out on the Spit, Hurst Castle dominates the middle distance views from this coast. It was built by Henry VIII in 1544 to defend the Solent. King Charles was imprisoned there in the year 1648 when he was en-route to face trial in London. There is an excellent museum here and coffee shop. It’s a great place for views, and there are masses of moored leisure boats here. It’s also perfect for kayaking or paddle boarding. You can catch a boat taxi from the coastal path out to Hurst Castle for a few pounds and it’s well worth the trip. The walk back is a good mile and you’ll end up back at the ‘crabbing bridge’ as the locals know it.

If you’re interested in the characters that run the castle, you can read more about Jason Crane the castle-keeper, mechanic and boatman here.

For bird enthusiasts, a visit to Sturt pond is a must. A haven for swans, ducks, Canada geese, mallard, wigeon, teal, shelduck & grebes, the marshes of Keyhaven Nature Reserve have an abundance of wading birds including the little Egret, redshank, ringed plover, oystercatcher, dunlin & curlew, plus a whole variety of regularly changing visitors.

For the family...

Hurst Road (SO41 0PY) benefits from a vast beachfront and is home to Milfords best loved play park. On the beach front, and amongst the beach huts the play park is perfectly positioned alongside the family owned Needles Eye cafe, who serve food and refreshments, and most importantly… New Forest ice creams.

Along the coast, families will love the sandbar and shallow lagoon that appear at Hordle Cliff beach during particularly low tides, and create another perfect place for little ones to paddle safely. You can get the inside scoop on tidal patterns here.

Alternatively, you can grab a net and crabbing line at one of Milfords village shops and head to one of the two bridges on Hurst Spit for crabbing and paddling in the shallow water.

Did you know..?

Milford on Sea was once a Saxon Manor, 500 years later it appeared in the Domesday Book of 1086 as a small manor with a church, a mill and about 50 inhabitants. It belonged to Christchurch Priory from 1107 to 1539 and was later used as a saltern – place of making salt. Until late in the 1800’s Milford on Sea was small hamlet of thatched cottages along the High Street. Little further development took place until the 1880s, when Colonel Cornwallis-West of Newland Manor planned to convert the village into a premier seaside resort, adding “on-Sea” to the name. The scheme failed however, due to an outbreak of typhoid & lack of funds. The land reclaimed from the salt farms is now an area of great natural beauty. In the later part of the 18th century, wealthy newcomers moved in to buy up farms and build fine houses. Their Georgian houses are part of over 50 listed properties in the village today.

Like most of the coast here, the village was an important part of the areas smuggling history. Brandy was brought in from France and transferred overland by ‘tubbers’ and ‘runners’ toward London. Dragoon Guards were stationed along the coast and the danger to smugglers and locals involved was immense. Read more here.

Here are some great dinner party-worthy facts!

  1. Milford on Sea holds an annual May Day festival on the village green with traditional (although not often seen) Maypole dancing. In mid-summer the excellent Music and Arts Festival takes place, the result of the tireless voluntary efforts of dedicated local talent. It runs on the small village green for about three days with local bands and drama from local schools, as well as stalls and craft workshops.

  2. The Victorian pillar box is the oldest one in Hampshire. This rare post box was manufactured between 1856-1857

    by Smith & Hawkes of Birmingham, it has vertical fluting, a small hinged vertical posting slot, stepped circular base and heavy cap. The shape of this box illustrates the reason today’s post boxes carry the name “pillar box”. This Pillar box preceded the famous hexagonal box by John Penfold by some 10 years. The pillar box can be found at the junction of Victoria Road with Cornwallis Road.

Getting here...

Milford on sea is conveniently located 10 mins from Lymington by car. The village is served by More buses X1 service from Bournemouth to Lymington, so New Milton, Lymington and Brockenhurst train stations are all in easy reach.

We also recommend taking a New Forest tour bus for sightseeing in the National Park during summer months. Hop on and hop off wherever you like, catch the next bus or even change direction by swapping the route – all on the same ticket! Whichever route you take, this is a great way to meet the New Forest ponies, roam around the chocolate box villages and immerse yourself in the quintessential English countryside.

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