Milford on Sea, Lymington, Hampshire.
Open water, tidal location nestled in the shadow of Hurst Castle.
Milford on Sea is the closest proper open tidal water spot to Lymington. It’s open to swell and does get its fair share of proper waves – especially during winter. Unfortunately, the beach is very steep meaning shore dump – particularly at high tide – can be a bit full on. There’s also the tide factor to keep in mind. Hurst Spit is a one mile shingle bank that shelters mudflats and salt marsh, known as Keyhaven. The tide flows out of the marshes and can create currents which may present hazards. Also, being at the mouth of The Solent there’s also flow to keep in mind. And to a certain degree large boat traffic, which also needs keeping clear of.
Tide and tidal flow are a big factor at Milford on Sea. Ebbing tides may present the biggest challenges as this’ll take paddlers straight out into the main shipper channel. But incoming tides also need to be headed. Milford on Sea’s beach is also very steep. Entering and exiting the water with any kind of swell in effect should be approached with caution as shore dump can be significant.
Sea defences have been installed most of the way along. Wooden groynes stretch out into the water and can be submersed when the sea’s in flood. And actually getting to the water’s edge is only possible via a few entry points. Should you need to get onto the beach then you may have limited get out points. The high tide pushes right up to the high sea defence wall built along the promenade. You may be putting yourself in harm’s by trying to take out here.
If you’re paddling around Keyhaven then beware of strange currents and more tidal movement. The shingle spit, whilst pleasant for SUP at some points, won’t be at other times.
Getting to Milford on Sea is pretty straight forward with easy access A roads leading straight into the village and long the coast. Access to the water isn’t quite as simple as much of Milford’s coast is perched on a cliff top overlooking the Isle of Wight and the iconic Needles.
There are a few lower beach entry points along Milford’s stretch. These will be your put in options. Just be aware of how steeply shelving the beach is, where the sea defences are and what stage of tide it (plus tide times). Have a sound get out strategy.
Milford on Sea itself is very popular – especially during summer. There are lots of walkers, cyclists and visitors who congregate on the cliff top path and surrounding roads. Milford’s village is always buzzing and a hive of activity.
The beach itself isn’t quite as popular as some surrounding locations. That said there’s still a fairly large SUP and watersports scene here.
A few beach side/cliff top coffee/snack outlets can be found in Milford’s coastal car parks. And a number of noted restaurants are situated the coastal road. Including the highly regard Lighthouse. Public toilets can also be found next to parking bays.
For a bigger selection of amenities, you’ll need to head back into Milford on Sea village itself. There are plenty of shops and such as will as accommodation options. Shorefields Holiday Park is also just a few miles back from the coast.
Milford on Sea is a less popular stand up paddle boarding location than some spots in the area. Due mainly to the seemingly tricky beach access. That said there are still plenty of paddlers who do frequent this part of the world. Get it right with the tide and weather and you’ll be presented with a whole host of adventure SUP options.
Milford is Lymington’s (close by) open water SUP venue and has a few different route options. You could head further west towards Highcliffe and eventually round to Avon Beach in Christchurch if Mother Nature’s playing ball. Alternatively going in the other direction will take you to the mouth of The River Lymington where you can navigate along its stretch. Just watch out for marine traffic!
The real tempting one – and a route that’s certainly doable if you’re experienced, have a solid plan in place, and with the right conditions – is paddling across to the Isle of Wight. Standing on Milford’s beach the iconic Needles are right in view. And with a favourable forecast it’s possible to navigate the 10km (ish) of open water to land at Totland Bay on the western side of the Isle of Wight. Tides, current, boat traffic and other hazards will need to be factored in. As will getting back to point A. But it’s doable.
For wave heads, Milford on Sea has been known to throw up a wave or two. It’s not super consistent but you may get lucky. There’s a sand bar just off the beach that can chuck up a liquid wall. Particularly after a big storm, the bank may have a wave when everywhere else is flat. If there is surf then you may be the only one out. Milford isn’t as frequented as other nearby locations. Just be aware the current can be strong and with nobody else about you may struggle to get help if the need arises.