Bucklers Hard Cottages on the hill

A visit to Buckler’s Hard Marina and River Cruise in the New Forest

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A visit to Buckler’s Hard Marina in the New Forest, Hampshire is the perfect little place to explore. Not only does it feel that time has stood still here, but it’s also the ideal place to reconnect, recharge and discover its true delights. It lies on the banks of Beaulieu River – Beau-lieu meaning beautiful place.

If you are not overly into its maritime history, Buckler’s Hard is still worth a visit. The views are magnificent, along with its tranquil atmosphere amongst the cottages and marina. Enjoy the peaceful Beaulieu River cruise – one of the best boat trips in Hampshire. Dine at either the Captain’s Table cafe or award-winning Riverview Restaurant at the Master Builder’s House. Looking to enjoy the outdoors? Take the beautiful Beaulieu River walk amongst the water and woodland to the village of Beaulieu.

Buckler’s Hard, New Forest

If Hampshire wasn’t stunning enough already, Buckler’s Hard takes it to the next level. Where the New Forest meets the Beaulieu River; it’s where time flows differently.

Buckler’s Hard is accessible by foot, car, motorbike, bicycle and boat! The Solent Way footpath runs through the village and is just over a 2 mile gentle walk or cycle from Beaulieu. Getting there by public transport may prove more challenging, however would be possible with the use of a taxi for the final leg of the journey.

Find out more information here on how to get there.

When we visited on a gorgeously warm, sunny weekend, we weren’t quite expecting it to be laid out with a model village-type feeling. It’s quite commercialised as you enter with paid parking, maps of the village, plenty of signposts, available facilities and cafes to choose from. Thankfully, keep heading towards the marina and the village begins to show its true heritage.

Once a busy shipbuilding village where ships for Nelson’s Navy were built, this charming village is now a peaceful haven. Many people still live here and are engaged in the recreation and tourism of the village. As you wander further down the hill, you appreciate how lucky you would be to live somewhere like this. Its character beams. It was still early in the summer season so we had the views all to ourselves for a while. In the height of summer, it would no doubt have much of a different feel.

Museum and Visitor Centre

When entering Buckler’s Hard from the car park and go past the facilities and cafe, the first attraction you come to is the Heritage Maritime Museum. The building was once the New Inn public house but now offers a series of interesting displays that tell the fascinating stories of this historic Beaulieu riverside village. Discover how the village transformed into the tranquil haven that stands today.

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Buckler’s Hard Yacht Harbour

With a five Gold Anchor accreditation, Buckler’s Hard Yacht Harbour offers a sheltered setting for 211 fully serviced berths, more than 300 moorings and a boat park with a slipway. There have been some major recent redevelopments within the harbour, making it a popular choice for visitors. You can book ahead here.

Buckler’s Hard Yacht Harbour is one of the two Beaulieu River marinas – the Beaulieu Marina and the Beaulieu Moorings, which are further downstream.

Take a wander around many of the sailing boats or explore the dry docks where plenty of work is going on to maintain a variety of vessels.

Beaulieu River Cruise & Boat Trip

Take to the water on the gentle 30 minute Buckler’s Hard Beaulieu River Cruise. River cruises run from Easter to October and are reasonably good value for money.

Head out towards the mouth of River Beaulieu, where the Solent meets the river. Your guided tour draws attention to the major historical parts of the village’s past, with moments in between that feel like you’ve slowed down in time to take in the scenery. Glide past sailing vessel after sailing vessel berthed along the riverbanks, smiling at their names. Before you reach the river mouth, the captain turns the boat around close to Lower Exbury. The journey on the way back is just as mesmerising as the way there. Upon approaching Buckler’s Hard, The village views from the water are as pretty as a picture. This Beaulieu River Cruise is definitely the highlight of visiting this charming village.

Beaulieu River Kayaking

Did you know that the Beaulieu River is one of the few privately owned rivers in the world? It has been in the ownership of the Montagu family for over 400 years. As a result, there is a launch and recovery slipway fee for all vessels, including Paddlecraft (canoes, kayaks, paddleboards). The price includes the parking of one vehicle.

Find more information out here about taking a kayak or other vessel on the Beaulieu River.

As a Site of Special Scientific Interest, there is plenty of information available to enjoy the river and also protect the wildlife. It’s an idyllic spot for paddlesports.

Paddling information at Buckler's Hard - Beaulieu River Map
Buckler’s Hard to Beaulieu Kayaking Trail - Beaulieu River Kayaking - Beaulieu River Map
Image credit: Beaulieu River

The Captain’s Table Cafe

For some light refreshments and a well-earned break from walking, enjoy the menu at the Captain’s Table. Serving breakfast, and lunch, including hot food, paninis sandwiches and jacket potatoes. They also offer traditional afternoon cream tea with lashings of jam and clotted cream (go on… you deserve it!).

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Perfectly located at the beginning or end of your Buckler’s Hard journey, there is plenty of inside seating with a chic design, or continue soaking in the vitamin D from the outside tables.

There is also an ice cream shop next to the cafe to further tempt your sweet tooth! Why not take one down to the river’s edge? There’s nothing better than licking away an ice cream with a water view!

Prices are reasonable considering these are the only casual dining and refreshments offered in the area.

The Master Builder’s House Hotel and Restaurant

One of the main reasons for visiting Buckler’s Hard is the Master Builder’s House. As part of the Hillbrooke Hotels brand, it’s absolutely gorgeous and steeped in history with stunning views over the Beaulieu River. Stay. Eat. Drink. The choice is yours – none of which will disappoint. Spend hours here soaking in the tranquillity, take in the views of the marina and just enjoy the moment.

The AA Rosette awarded Riverview Restaurant is known for its fresh, seasonal food with quality wines and ales. It’s got its own style as it stands proud at the end of the village. During the summer months, enjoy the Crew Bar & Grill on the terrace. The Yachtsman Bar also opens daily for drinks and bar nibbles.

You don’t get much more Buckler’s Hard than this.

Are you planning a visit to the beautiful village of Buckler’s Hard? The Beaulieu River Cruise? The Master Builder’s House? We would love to know what you are most looking forward to in the comments below.

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