Beaulieu, Exbury and Hythe
Beaulieu this picturesque village grew up around the Beaulieu Abbey, which was, founded in 1204 by Cistercian Monks which now houses a museum of monastic life. Nearby Palace House is one of Britains most visited stately homes, which has an authentic Victorian Kitchen.
Beaulieu is the home of the National Motor Museum with almost 300 exhibits of Motoring history including Bluebird and the Golden Arrow. Further down the Beaulieu River is the Maritime Museum at Bucklers Hard which is an 18th century shipbuilding village where Nelsons fleet was built with local timbers from the New Forest.
On the eastern bank of the Beaulieu River is the 200 acre estate of Exbury with its world famous collection of Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Camellias and Magnolias through April and May. The garden looks equally stunning in spring with the carpets of Daffodils and Bluebells and in the autumn after the early frosts, and a Miniature steam railway to help make the day complete. Just outside Beaulieu, at Beaulieu Road Station, the Pony Sales take place.
Hythe and Waterside
Hythe is situated on the eastern edge of the New Forest in an area known as the Waterside, a string of villages sandwiched between the New Forest and Southampton water. It enviably has the best of both worlds for leisure activities with sailing and water sports, forest walks and cycling to name but a few.
The beaches at Calshot and Lepe offer safe bathing, walks and views of The Isle of Wight in addition to being of historical interest. Calshot Castle was one of Henry VIII's coastal defense forts while at Lepe Beach can be seen the remains of the construction site of Mulberry harbours used in the Normandy invasion. Attractive Hythe marina is an excellent viewpoint to watch cruise liners such as Queen Mary 2 leave their home port of Southampton or to stop for picnics.
The pretty village is pedestrianised and offers a wealth of specialist shops restaurants and pubs with ample parking . A bustling market is held every Tuesday. Each July the Waterside Arts Festival features a two week extravaganza of music and entertainment.
Hythe pier opened on 1st January 1881 and in 1922 a narrow gauge electric railway opened along the length of the pier to transport passengers to the ferry. Its original engine and rolling stock (formerly from a mustard-gas factory) are still operational and are an important transport link to Southampton.
The pier at 2,100 feet is one of the longest in Britain.
From Hythe, travel along the country lanes to Calshot with its beaches and Activity Centre which is home to sailing courses, rock climbing and skiung. This was once the home of the Flying Boats. As you go along the coast to Lepe the Country Park commands superb vies of the Solent.