Contacts: Harbour Master tel 01590 616200 VHF #68 "Beaulieu River Radio"
For the visiting yachtsman or motorboater, the Beaulieu River can make an interesting change from the wall-to-wall marinas found elsewhere in the Solent area. Entry is possible for most boats, other than at dead low water springs.
The River rises in Lyndhurst and makes it's way to the sea via Beaulieu and Bucklers Hard. It is navigable inland for a few miles and forms a very beautiful and unspoiled natural harbour with deepwater available past Bucklers Hard. The whole River and it's seabed are owned by Lord Montagu (of the Motor Museum fame), and under his stewardship there is no hint of overdevelopment. It is his coffers you will be enriching wherever you moor within this river.
Apart from the numerous moorings and the charges, things probably aren't much different from when wooden walled warships were built for Nelson's fleet at Bucklers Hard.
Anchoring is not really possible deeper into the River, but it is not too difficult to get a mooring, or a berth at Bucklers Hard Marina. Wherever you berth in this River you will pay...the Harbourmaster's staff are afloat to give advice and collect the dues. Having said that this is one little haven where you can avoid the worst excesses of consumer boating, and enjoy things as they were perhaps 40 or 50 years ago (apart from the charges). There are some useful facilities for the boat, but this is not a place for serious provisioning or crew changes as transport is very limited.
They have been hard at work over the 2019/2020 winter. The result is that there is no longer a mid river pontoon beyond the Marina, (that has been joined to the rest of the marina and is called Visitors Pontoon North) and there is an extra visitors pontoon outside the pontoon to the south of the Hoist Dock.
We have included a copy of the new layout in our Navigation gallery up on the right.
The River has a bar with less than 1 m at LWS, and consultations will need to be made with the tide tables when planning entry.
The approach to Beaulieu River from seawards involves keeping a good offing, and making your final approach on a northerly heading. There are plenty of shallows and drying areas awaiting the unwary, so a good check of the charts and consultations with the tide tables will be needed.
Beaulieu now keeps a listening watch on VHF #68 and you should call them on entering the river inbound.
From the West, once you have passed the West Lepe red can buoy (Fl.R.5s), you will come across three seasonal yellow spherical buoys laid at regular intervals of about 6 to 7 cables on a line 048T and all F.Y.4s In poor visibility the problem will be which yellow buoy you are looking at and whether or not you’ve missed one!!
About the only guide one can offer is that the first two yellow buoys are to the SSW of the entrance (the old Coast Guard cottages) and the third one is to the SSE. If you are navigating by GPS this will not be a major problem but if you are navigating by Mark I eyeball you will have to keep up a regular plot or you could end up on the putty. Keeping well to seaward of the yellow buoys will help you avoid the shallows and if the buoys are missing (Dec to Mar) the charted position of the last one, just short of the leading marks is 50°46.6N 001°21.5W and approaching this waypoint on a generally northerly heading will serve equally well.
In general just be aware that drying patches and shallow water radiate southwards from Beaulieu Spit, and that approaching the entrance on a northerly heading from a distance off will clear all of this.
From the East a fair offing needs to be kept, leaving the substantial southerly cardinal Lepe Spit buoy off Stansore Point (Q(6)+LFl.15s) to starboard. Aiming next for the yellow racing buoy mentioned above will keep you clear of the shallows.
The bar has less than 1 m at LWS, and to play safe boats drawing around 1.5 m should not make their approach at low water, but leave it a couple of hours and enter on a rising tide.
The yellow racing buoy is slightly to the West of the transit line which is Lepe House and the red number two beacon lining up on 324°. The house can be easily identified, a large rambling structure appearing in a gap between the windswept trees to the West of the Millenniun Lighthouse and the old coastguard cottages. Moving in on this transit will bring you towards the Beaulieu River Dolphin a three legged red wooden structure with the noticeboard displaying the speed limit (5 Knts) and lit (Fl.R.5s.3M). This needs to be left well on your port side, and your course tweaked up 10° to around 334°, which will lead you between the red and green piles that show the way in. These piles are numbered, the red port hand ones having even numbers and the green starboard hand ones having odd numbers. Alternate piles are lit with Fl 4s lights The water now deepens out, and in the region of piles numbers 5 to 8 the channel swings to the West with a touch of south, before swinging Northwest in the region of number 19 (green) which is opposite Needs Ore point (Beaulieu River Sailing Club).
After the No 19 pile there are a few buoys marking the extremities of the channel but they are sparse, not in pairs and all flashing 4s (either red or green as appropriate). Night entry is not impossible but there is a very real danger of collision with moored craft so is not advisable for strangers, and any attempt at working your way through the moorings in the dark will require a very bright moon.
The more observant of you will notice that ALL the navigation marks , whether port or starboard, have the same light signature (Fl 4s) This means that you could see all of them at the same time and have no means of telling which is which!!
The tides have the usual Solent high water stand with the ebb not starting to run hard until about 3 1/2 hours before low water.
There is a good Tom Cunliffe video of the entrance and river transit on the Beaulieu website made in early 2017 (ie without the new buoys)
We are told that a couple of night visits were made here by a Yachtmaster Course last summer and the new nav marks made it a lot easier than they had expected.
For a visiting small craft mariner, the mooring opportunities available in the Beaulieu River consist of swinging moorings, pile moorings and a 200+ berth marina at Buckler's Hard. You can make arrangements for a berth by ringing them in advance.
Anchoring is not allowed in the River as it is too tight with moorings. There is a recognised anchorage in the first reach past the red post number 20, and off Gull Island, just out of the channel (to the north of the island and south of the channel). This is not very protected particularly with easterlies, and a long way from anywhere. Mooring up-river of Needs Ore point will cost £2.25 pmpn
Otherwise make your way up the River and if you find a vacant suitable looking mooring buoy (with the long-term holder away) you are permitted to tie up. It will be necessary to get the harbour master's permission ASAP, and he can be reached on 01590 616200 or #68 Until you have confirmation from the harbour master it is best to assume that the owner may return and require you to vacate his mooring.
Other mooring options include a new pontoon just below the Marina, and another visitors mooring pontoon just above the Marina. Otherwise enter the Marina and tie up, there is often room.
Whichever option you choose make yourself known to the harbour authorities within 24 hours of arriving if they haven't found you first.
Charges for visiting pontoon berths (Summer 2022) are £4.50 pm pn. Shore power is included in that price.. A short stay (1200 to 1530) is charged from £1.00 per metre on a mooring or £1.75 on the pontoon.
The links below cover the River regulations and the prices respectively:
Anchorage before entering the river "proper"
"This is more of a night stopover if you don't need to get off the boat. You can anchor on either edge of the reach leading up to Needs Oar Point. You may get caught by the harbourmaster's dory, if he's feeling bored or there are a lot of anchored yachts, but usually we get away with it. A great place for birdwatching.
We recently anchored quite close to the entrance and took the dinghy ashore just west of the boathouse. This is OK because the beach is mostly shingle with very little of the normal mud. A couple of miles stroll along the road will take you to Exbury Gardens and a fabulous display of Rhododendrons in the spring. It's not bad at other times of the year too. If that walk is too long then just a few hundred yards east is the Lepe country park with a pleasant walk around the shore and a good cafe to return to for sustenance.
"Follow the Beaulieu River up to Buckler's Hard, ignore the very expensive marina, and ask the harbourmaster for a position on the midstream piles, great for improving boat handling skills. (It is true that the piles are now enhanced with pontoons which somewhat diminishes the skills required). But you still need to watch out for the current when manoeuvering, it can run quite hard at times. If you want peace and quiet, the harbourmaster may have a spare mooring further up river if you ask.
The Agamemnon Yard, close behind the Marina, holds the showers, loos and washing machines and there's a fuel and water jetty handy. Behind the fuelling jetty is where you can get ashore in your dinghy after pushing your way through dozens of others. The yard often has interesting boats ashore but the chandlery appears to have closed down.
The village itself is a step back in time, some of the houses are occupied, others are open to the public giving a glimpse of life in times past. The Master Builder's pub gets packed (and overflows onto the green outside), the Maritime museum is well worth a visit (50p off with your mooring fee). There's a cafe near to the museum and a shop that sells basic provisions. 'Unauthorised' barbecues are not allowed on the green but you can borrow an 'authorised' barbie, speak to the harbourmaster.
PS. Have a look at the river water flowing past your boat, at certain times of year there are thousands (millions?) of small translucent jellyfish flowing back and forth with the current. Where they all come from is a mystery to me.
The riverside walk through the woods to Beaulieu village is a great favourite, especially with the promise of a real icecream on arrival. Beaulieu village also has a pub where you can get a meal (eaten outside if you want to fight off the donkies) and the garden centre (which keeps the wife happy) has a cafe that serves delicious, home made cakes. The green is a favourite with the kids for feeding the ducks and petting the donkies.
This information is reproduced here by kind permission of Alan Holmes, his site below has much information about Solent harbours and anchorages, has some good photos, and is based on plenty of hands on experience...check it out but be aware that some of his prices will have changed markedly
For the boat at Bucklers Hard most facilities will be found, water, electricity and fuel. The fuel pontoon also provides water and ice, and stays open till dusk. For the crew showers, toilets and a launderette are available. Ashore full backup services are available for the boat, including a yard that can handle liftings, repairs and other work with various specialists on site including engineers, riggers, and outboard repair facilities nearby.
A bookable scrubbing grid can handle boats of around 2 m draft at MHWS, and this is arranged through the harbour office.
Buckler's Hard Boatbuilders operates a very useful chandlery close to the Marina and sells bottled gas.
Trailer Sailers are well served at Bucklers Hard, with all facilities close at hand again. The slip is available at all states of the tide, although there can be a tidal cross set to deal with. The harbourmaster is in charge, phone number already given.
The licensed village store can provide basic provisioning and a dinghy mission on the tide, or a 2 mile plus walk will get you to Beaulieu village where there is a further scattering of small shops. All in all not a place for serious provisioning....
Public transport is equally dire from Bucklers Hard, although Beaulieu village does have a limited bus service. For train services Brockenhurst station about 6 miles away is probably the best bet.
The Beaulieu River is a small river flowing south through the New Forest in the county of Hampshire in southern England. The river is some 12 miles (19 km) long, of which the last 4 miles (6.4 km) are tidal. Unusually, the entire river, including its bed, is owned by Lord Montagu of Beaulieu.
The Beaulieu River rises near Lyndhurst in the centre of the New Forest, and flows south-easterly across the forest heaths to the village of Beaulieu. At Beaulieu the river becomes tidal and once drove a tide mill in the village. Below Beaulieu the tidal river continues to flow through the forest, passing the village of Bucklers Hard and entering the sea through the Solent.
The tidal river below Beaulieu village is navigable to small craft. Bucklers Hard was once a significant shipbuilding centre, building many wooden sailing ships, both merchant and naval and including Nelson's Agamemnon.
The picturesque hamlet of Bucklers Hard, with its Georgian cottages running down to the Beaulieu river is part of the 9000 acre (36 km²) Beaulieu Estate. It was the birthplace of many British naval vessels, including many of Admiral Nelson's fleet, using the timber of the New Forest.
The industry declined in the 19th-century and today the hamlet is given over to tourism, with a small maritime museum, and a modern yachting marina. Bucklers Hard was where Sir Francis Chichester began and finished his single-handed voyage around the world in Gipsy Moth IV.
In the late 1950s Beaulieu was the surprising location for one of Britain's first experiments in pop festival culture, with the annual Beaulieu Jazz Festival, which quickly expanded to become a significant event in the burgeoning jazz and youth pop music scene of the period.
Camping overnight, a rural invasion, eccentric dress, wild music and sometimes wilder behaviour — these now familiar features of pop festival happened at Beaulieu each summer, culminating in the so-called 'Battle of Beaulieu' at the 1960 festival, when rival gangs of modern and traditional jazz fans indluged in a spot of what sociologists went on to call 'subcultural contestation'.
Beaulieu village has remained largely unspoilt by progress, and is a favourite tourist stop for visitors to the New Forest, and also for birders seeking local specialities like Dartford Warbler, Honey Buzzard and Hobby.
The nearest railway station is Beaulieu Road, about 4 miles (6.4 km) away on the London-Weymouth main line. However, this station has an infrequent service (3 trains per day being typical), and there are more frequent services at the next station to the east, Ashurst, 10 miles (16 km) from Beaulieu, and the next to the west, Brockenhurst, 6 miles (9.7 km) away.
In summer Beaulieu is served by the New Forest Tour, an hourly open-topped bus service.
Palace House (not to be confused with the Palace of Beaulieu in Essex), which overlooks the village from across Beaulieu River, began in 1204 as the gatehouse to Beaulieu Abbey, and has been the ancestral home of a branch of the Montagu family since 1538, when it was bought from the crown following the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII.
The house was extended in the 16th century, and again in the 19th century, and is today a fine example of a Gothic country house.
Although still home to the current Lord and Lady Montagu, parts of the house and gardens are open daily to the public. It is a member of the Treasure Houses of England consortium.
The village is also home to the British National Motor Museum.
The museum, opened as the Montagu Motor Museum in 1952, becoming a charitable trust in 1972, contains an important collection of historic motor vehicles, including four world land speed record holders:
Sir Malcolm Campbell's 1924 Blue-Bird and
His son Donald Campbell's 1964 Bluebird CN7,
The 1927 Sunbeam 1000HP (the first motor car to reach 200 miles per hour)
The 1929 Irving-Napier Special 'Golden Arrow'.
The last two were both driven by Major Henry Segrave.
Bucklers Hard is a picturesque hamlet situated on the banks of the Beaulieu river in the English county of Hampshire. With its Georgian cottages running down to the river, Bucklers Hard is part of the 9000 acre (36 km²) Beaulieu Estate. The hamlet is located some 2½ miles (4 km) south of the village of Beaulieu.
The hamlet was built by the second Duke of Montagu, originally called Montagu Town, intended to be a free port for trade with the West Indies. Bucklers Hard was the birthplace of many British naval vessels, including many of Admiral Nelson's fleet, using the timber of the New Forest. The industry declined in the nineteenth-century and today the hamlet is given over to tourism, with a small maritime museum, and a modern yachting marina. During World War II the village was used to build motor torpedo boats and the river was a base for hundreds of landing craft for the Normandy invasion, Operation Overlord. Bucklers Hard was where Sir Francis Chichester began and finished his single-handed voyage around the world in Gipsy Moth IV.
As already mentioned Bucklers Hard was a major centre for ship building during Nelson's day, the forests of oak nearby providing the timbers for wooden walled fighting ships of some considerable size. Hence for anyone interested in that period the Maritime Museum will prove fascinating. It deals with the life of Henry Adams the master shipbuilder on the spot, and the vessels built here. The Agamemnon was said to be Nelson's favourite ship, and it was built at Bucklers Hard. Also commemorated at the Museum is Sir Francis Chichester, the first person to sail around the globe single-handed in 1967.
The National Motor Museum in Beaulieu is world-famous and well worth a look too. The ruins of the ancient monastery at Beaulieu can be taken in as well as a visit to Palace House the Gothic ancestral home of the Montagus since 1538.
At Bucklers Hard will be found the Master Builder's House Hotel, which was once the home of the above-mentioned Henry Adams master shipbuilder. Nowadays it popular with visiting yachtsman and serves food. An alternative is the Riverview Restaurant and Terrace, with a good choice of wines including some from the Beaulieu estate.
A bit further afield at Beaulieu village there are a couple more choices for eating and drinking. While at Beaulieu it might amuse you to realise that this unlikely spot was the scene of an historic pop festival punch-up in 1960. Forget Mods and Rockers... this was between rival groups of Beatnicks, and the bone of contention was the virtues of traditional jazz (Acker Bilk) versus modern jazz (Johnny Dankworth).... go-go-daddy-o ! Rioting youths dressed in scruffy jeans, sporting CND badges and wearing BOWLER HATS went on the rampage. One even managed to shin up His Lordship's gothic pile and waved his bowler agressively from the battlements.
Lord Montagu was " disgusted and flabbergasted". Youth is youth, music is music, and some things never change !