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Milford on Sea

Milford on Sea - Hampshire

Milford on Sea is both quintessentially English and yet also totally different to anywhere else.
The secret to this strange paradox is all in Milford’s location – both in the New Forest, with its undoubted attractions, but also, as its name implies, with an easily accessed pebble beach. And some spectacular views!

Milford is yet another of the Hampshire towns mentioned in the Domesday Book but by the time that was compiled in 1086 Milford was already at least 500 years old, having originated as a Saxon settlement.

Originally, Milford’s economy was based on its agricultural products and its sea salt although this industry eventually declined.

At the end of the 18th century, many fine Georgian houses, most of which still exist today, were built. In 1886, a local landowner added the ‘on Sea’ part to the name of the village and attempted to transform Milford into a Hampshire equivalent to the popular and fashionable Eastbourne.

The scheme didn’t really take off but it did result in Milford’s layout, which is part of its charm as it is centered around the ‘traditional’ village green. The former salterns have also been transformed into a reclaimed area of great natural beauty.

But back to those fantastic views. Well, from the beach you can almost always see The Needles on the Isle of Wight. In fact, you have a panoramic view of the Solent, with all its activity, from the Isle of Wight to Christchurch and Hengisbury Head.

It is a lovely walk along the sea wall to Lymington and along the cliffs, which have been left in their natural state free of buildings, to Christchurch. Arguably the most spectacular views can be seen at twilight and night when the conurbation of Christchurch, Bournemouth and Poole is often visible, with the stars reflecting on the sea.

There are additionally some pleasant inland walks amid the natural woods alongside the Danestream, which runs down to the sea.

Slightly to the east of Milford is Keyhaven, with both a thriving boatyard and a bird sanctuary, which leads to Hurst Spit, a two mile shingle spit reaching out to Hurst Castle. Hurst Castle was built for Henry VIII, was then a prison holding, amongst others, Charles I, and now has a museum and café and some awe-inspiring 8 ton guns.

If the walk along the spit is rather too intimidating or blustery, then there is a seasonal ferry making the journey from Keyhaven.

The village of Milford on Sea itself, close to both Barton on Sea and New Milton, is completely unspoilt, with a variety of shops, restaurants and pubs bordering the Green.

All the fresh air and exercise from your walk here is bound to leave you a little peckish, so if this is the case Milford on Sea has a fine selection of restaurants and eateries to satisfy your hunger, and if you fancy a little shopping, there are some enchanting little shops around the Green as well, including places such as Maison and Brocante, which sell an appealing range of items.

Whilst you’re in Milford on Sea, it’s well worth spending some time at the Everton Water Gardens, which can be found at the Gardener’s Cottage in Newlands Manor, which was one of Edward VII’s favourite retreats.

Milford on Sea, with its numerous activities and easy access to the New Forest and nearby Blue Flag beaches, really can offer something for every member of the family.

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