Up the Creek - South Coast

Beaulieu River, Solent

  The Beaulieu River are the New Forest Heritage and the South Hampshire Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.   Beaulieu has a wealth of listed buildings including nine Grade 1 or 2 and the Abbey is also a Scheduled Ancient Monument.  The Cistercian monastery of Bellus Locus (Norman French), Beau Lieu a “fair place”, was founded by King John in 1204.  The linear village grew up as a settlement for hired labourers on the opposite side of the river from the Abbey along the road to Lymington.   Following the dissolution of the Abbey in 1538 much of the stone was removed and used at places such as Hurst and Calshot Castles.   Only three Abbey buildings remain intact, each with new uses.   The first tourists visited the picturesque Abbey ruins in the 18th century and large scale tourism has become one of the most significant features of present day Beaulieu.  The village becomes very congested during the summer even for yachtsmen.   The listed telephone kiosk on the east side of the High Street is one of the K6 type designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in 1935.   In 1722 John, 2nd Duke of Montagu organised and financed an expedition to the West Indies with the intention of establishing sugar plantations on the islands of St Vincent and St Lucia.  To support this he planned to build a major port greater than Lymington or Southampton called Montagu Town.  Acres of forest were cleared and land was offered at a nominal rent for 99 years with three loads of timber used to build a house.   The expedition was a failure and by 1740 only six houses had been built.  Then war with France brought about the need for a great many ships and Buckler's Hard was established.  With its gravel hard and sheltered position it was in an ideal position to benefit and several ships of Nelson's fleet were built there.  The 19th century saw the decline of shipbuilding here due to competition with iron ship construction and the new cheap railway transport system.  In 1894 the Gosport Steam Launch Company began running day trips to Buckler's Hard and the age of tourism had begun.   The Master Builders House, now converted to an hotel, dominates the north end of the West Terrace.  But by far the grandest house here, is the home of Henry Adams who came to the shipyard in 1744 as resident overseer for the navy and took over running the yard in 1749.   The bay window on the north side looks down towards the river and gave Henry a clear view of all that was happening.   Buckler's Hard is about two miles from Beaulieu and is one of the few places where you can approach the banks of the River Beaulieu.   Little more than two rows of cottages, Buckler's Hard is basically an 18th century village that has not developed.

  Drop anchor either side from the Solent entrance to Needs Ore Point but preferably on the South side with good holding.   There could be a small charge but only should the Harbourmaster feel inclined.   This is the place for bird watching either on the muddy spit or the mainland in the North.   The Royal Southampton Yacht Club at Gins Farm which is just 2 miles from the River entrance is also well worth a visit.   Buckler’s Hard is about 3˝ miles from the River entrance and is a very expensive mooring in the Marina.  Better still moor alongside the main Fueling Berth pontoon.  Passage just a little further around the corner, drop anchor and dinghy back for a very quiet night.   All the river mooring buoys are let to berth holders but can be picked up at the owners discretion.   This river is navigable at low water up to and just beyond Buckler’s Hard but at high water with shoal draft all the way to Beaulieu Bridge.  Its about another 2 miles from Buckler’s Hard to Beaulieu Bridge drying most of the way and is a very interesting passage with wildlife on both sides of the river.   There is a “deeper” rivulet in the centre of the river and many piles and buoys to pick up and also several small landing stages.

Beaulieu River Entrance (Extract from Chart GB50242L)

Beaulieu River, Buckler’s Hard (Extract from Chart GB50242L)

Beaulieu River, Buckler's Hard

Beaulieu River, Upper Reaches

© Copyright Terry Paynter