Beaulieu to Bucklers Hard approx 2 miles each way.
This is a beautiful and tranquil walk which meanders along the river and ends at the timeless historical 18th century village of Bucklers Hard.
It probably is a walk that is appreciated far more on a good weather day, as you are able to take your time and just enjoy the natural beauty of the walk in the sunshine, however it is still a lovely walk even in the middle of winter.
Starting from Acorns of Lyndhurst B&B you can choose to either drive, cycle or take The New Forest Tour bus to get to Beaulieu. You can pick up the river walk just at the back of the The Montague Arms which has a prominent position on the main road in Beaulieu.
To start with the path takes you through some fields where you get just the odd glimpse of the beautiful Beaulieu River, and if you are really lucky you may catch sight of a deer. On one warm, sunny Sunday afternoon we did, a baby fallow deer had been left by it's mother snuggled up in the long grass at the base of the hedgerow and even though we were only a couple of feet away it didn't move, it was an adorable sight - just like Bambi.
As you go past the yard of New Forest Activities the path splits and the left one goes to the riverside and the right one goes through the trees in a slightly more direct route. We normally take the riverside path which does more or less follow the edge of the river bank as it meanders slowly down towards Bucklers Hard. Although some of it can get muddy and it's a bit lumpy with tree routes it is a reasonable track that should be ok for all ages. The other route I would say is more suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs as it's flat. The views of the river and properties that reside on the banks are breathtaking and the only noises you hear are the birds and the odd boat that slowly goes by either on it's way out to sea or returning to it's mooring.
You can stand and watch and dream of living the life for hours, it's quite mesmerizing.
Eventually though, you wind your way to the historic shipbuilding village of Bucklers Hard where you can just sit with an ice cream, a picnic or a glass of wine on the grassy bank and just watch the world go by in a stunning setting. Alternatively you can visit the impressive Maritime Museum, Shipwright's cottage & chapel which gives an insight into the history of this 18th century shipbuilding village, focusing on its vessels including those built for Nelson's Navy. You can also continue your walk a little further and take in the woodland walk on the other side of the hard, or you can take to the water.
The 30 mins River Cruise is a great way to follow the privately owned river down to where it meets the Solent and take in the stunning views along the way with accompanying commentary telling you the story of the river. Or if you fancy getting a little more hands on, you can kayak with New Forest Activities - this is great fun and in my opinion, a wonderful way to get the most out of your visit.
All in all the tranquility and slow pace of the Beaulieu River make this walk and the idyllic village of Bucklers Hard one of the nicest, simplistic and picturesque places I can think of to spend a warm summers afternoon, in the New Forest National Park