Lymington and Keyhaven Marshes Nature Reserve

In which I walk along a seawall with views across mudflats and a silver-grey sea

It [Lymington] stands above the river and a great sweep of salt marshes with a sea-wall path running over them all the way from the town to Keyhaven. For some way the sea-wall keeps alongside the river, which is always fascinating, whether the tide is making and only the tops of the booms and reed beds show, or at ebb, when the lilac mudflats, smooth as silk, are exposed.

Joan Begbie, Walking in the New Forest, published 1934

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am following in the bootsteps of Joan Begbie and her two dogs (Bill, a white bull terrier, and Mr Bundy, a diminutive griffon). Joan wrote about her walks in the New Forest in her 1934 book Walking in the New Forest, which is full of her entertaining observations, knowledge, and her own lovely little sketches. 

The Marina, Lymington

Having said that, it’s a short post this week. I’ve been away, with little time to walk in the woods. However, I did drive down to Lymington, where there was an exhibition I wanted to see, and took the opportunity for a short meander along the seawall around the eastern end of the Lymington and Keyhaven Marshes Nature Reserve, a place that Joan visited (before it became a reserve). The reserve covers a large area of coastal saltmarsh and mudflats, and is a paradise for birdwatchers (and, more particularly, for birds), as well as having stunning views of what, on the bright and sunny day I visited, was a silvery expanse of sea and mudbanks. I think it cannot be that different from when Joan, Bill and Mr Bundy visited back in the 1930s. 

Above, clockwise from top left: Canada Geese landing on the water of Normandy Lagoon, Sea Aster, a view over Normandy Lagoon, Little Egret, Redshank

I’ve been here before, walking from the western end, when I saw Avocets and a Marsh Harrier. This time, I spotted, among other birds, a pair of Lapwing, a huge flock of Canada Geese coming in to land, Little Egrets, and a Redshank. There were Starlings and Sea Aster, fluffs of seedheads, grasses and reeds. I parked near the Marina and so, even as I walked westwards, the sounds and smells of sea and birds were set against a background of the clinking of rigging, with its promise of travel and adventure.

If you follow this link to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust’s entry about the reserve, and scroll down, you’ll see a map of the reserve. You can’t (of course) walk on the mudflats themselves – this is a protected site – but the seawall/path gives wonderful views. I walked from Lymington and round the Normandy Lagoon, and then back again in about 1.5 hours (i.e. with lots of stopping to look at birds), but you could easily spend a day here.

6 thoughts on “Lymington and Keyhaven Marshes Nature Reserve

  1. Carolyn Lambert

    Short, but so evocative….and as usual, illustrated by your wonderful photographs. I’m so happy to hear that there are so many birds thriving there…..I’d love to do that walk…and visit that pub!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Carolyn – I’m keen to try that pub, too! I’ve walked down by the marshes a couple of times before, but from the western end of the reserve, so it was nice to walk into it from Lymington Marina instead. I do love the clanking sound of yacht rigging!


      1. Carolyn Lambert

        I’ve always loved that sound….it’s as if the yachts are restless, and want to away…wind in their sails….off on an adventure! Pity I’m a hopeless sailor!! But the pub I could manage!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. gtgail

    A regular haunt of mine. I have volunteered a couple of times with Julian of the Nature Reserve, in helping to uncover the bones of the Salt Wharf workings, fascinating. You can often now see Spoonbills there too. If you meander off the inland track, there is a wonderful old pub called The Chequers which feels like it must have been a smugglers pub once upon a time 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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