Lymington is a very attractive and fairly large town on the edge of the New Forest.
It is very much geared up for the needs of the boater, whether sail or power, and perhaps the only drawback are the constant movements of the Yarmouth/Lymington ferries. These shallow draught ferries have absolute right of way, and not much room to play with in the twisting approach channel which is lined with moored yachts.
Lymington has two large marinas (Berthon and Lymington Yacht Haven), and more budget orientated berthing at on the Town Quay (Lymington Harbour Commissioners) and on the Harbour Master & Dan Bran pontoons. where there is a choice of marina berths, rafting berths and moorings. There are further walks ashore visitor berths on the Harbour Master and Dan Bran pontoons, the latter well suited to rallies where up to 50 (10m) boats can be moored together. Both are operated by Lymington Harbour commissioners., Furthermore there are yards and specialists to cope with just about any problem.
It is accessible at any state of the tide, very sheltered within and is only a couple of miles away from the Needles Channel. Needless to say it is very popular with yachtsman, but a bit on the pricey side.
From 1st April 2022 until the end of May 2022 the wahroom facilities at Town Quay are being refurbished. There are temporary showers but you will have to use public toilets in the Bath Road car park or those in New Street off the High street
.Using a combination of that video, the UKHO chart and our own notes should give you a very sound idea of what to expect and where everything is.
In the approach probably the most conspicuous mark will be the Royal Lymington Yacht Club's starting box used for yacht racing. This looks suspiciously like a small Portakabin perched atop a crude timber framework. It lies just to the east of the main channel, so do not aim for this. Instead identify the Jack in The Basket beacon, which is red and lit (Fl.R.2s). This red pile is topped by a basket (strangely enough), and is labelled clearly with white lettering. This beacon lies slightly to the SSW of the starting platform, and is the outlying mark... it needs to be left on your port hand side. The mass of masts in Lymington, and the easily identifiable WightLink ferries coming and going help identify the entrance from a distance.
Now it is simply a matter of following the red and green beacons, the next one on your port hand side the red Cross Boom (Fl.R.2s), and on your starboard side the green No 1 (Fl.G.2s), which must not be confused with the starting platform which it is adjacent to. Note that much of the buoyage in this channel has the same signature (ie Fl. 2s) so, in the dark, they will all look the same. That is, aprt from the lights on the tight bends which change to Q.G or Q.R
Regarding the ferries.....We used to warn about ferries but they are nowhere near as frequent as in the past. Ferries now only operating two per hour. There is plenty of room for yachts to pass inbound or outbound ferries. There is also a designated passing reach for ferries to pass which happens very occasionally.
The first run up the channel is on a course of 319°T, and is marked by lit leading marks. The rear Mark stands 17 m tall and is in the region of the Fortuna pontoon, the forward Mark stands 12 m tall and is adjacent to Lymington Town Sailing Club. Both are metal columns, and both are lit F.R.8M. These give a leading line for the ferries at night, but you may not spot them during the day. No problem as red and green beacons show the way.
The channel runs straight in on 319°T until you reach Tar Barrel Beacon (Fl.G.2s) where you need to swing slightly to starboard and come onto a course of 007°T. Ahead you may be able to see a pair of black and white posts which form the leading marks for the ferries and on your starboard side you will see a breakwater, outside of the marked channel and marked with lights (2F.G vert) and yellow buoys. Don’t be tempted to stray towards this breakwater as it is on shallow ground. Pass the Enticott (Fl.G.2s) green beacon and be prepared to make a swing to port when you reach the Cage Boom (Q.G.) green beacon. Between Enticott and the Cage Boom there is a breakwater on the port side, outside the buoyed channel and marked with lights (F.R vert) and yellow buoys; again don't be tempted to stray outside the buoyed channel towards this breakwater as it is very shallow. You will also be following a line of small craft moorings laid along the port side of the channel; once round the left hand bend they are laid in two trots and the main channel is outside both trots. By the time you steady past the Cage Boom SHM you'll be heading about 288°T and making towards the Dan Brown pontoon (which is the long, public pontoon outside the Lymington Yacht Haven) In front of you, opposite the entrance to Lymington Yacht Haven you will see a wave barrier which appears to block your way up river. You should be able to make out the channel SHM just off the left hand (Westerly) end of that so aim to leave the lot to Starboard. On the way there, on the port side of the channel you will pass more small boat moorings and there are three yellow markers on the port side at the end of the yacht trots followed by the outside red mark of Harper's post (the inside light is on another wave barrier protecting the yacht haven.) and just past this, looking to port you will pick up the leading marks for the Yacht Haven on 244°T.
Carrying on up Horn Reach will take you past the conspicuous Royal Lymington Yacht Club with its own landing pontoon berths all on your port side. Carry on towards the car ferry terminal (see photo gallery) and as you pass this on your starboard side you will see the berths and then the fuel berth belonging to Lymington Marina and the Berthon Yard, all on your port side. After the Marina berths the River swings sharply to port and care will be needed not to get confused by the trot moorings. The Town Quay pontoon will have heaved into view by now, and if heading there follow the channel through the moorings.
If all this sounds a bit complicated, take heart, for in practice it is very straightforward as the channel is lined with small craft moorings, and the beacons are substantial, well marked and numbered. It is simply a matter of locating the first beacons near the yacht starting platform and then following them in.
The end of an era is now at hand with the old ferries being replaced with new slightly larger ones. The old ships Caedmon, Cenwulf and Cenred had been in service for 35 years, and originally started their work on the Fishbourne to Portsmouth run. I have very fond memories of these vessels, and remember one December night in particular over 30 years ago (Ed - more like fifty now!) when the wind was howling, the rain was lashing down and I had to drive back to London on my Norton Commando Interstate. The bike had to be chocked up and lashed down, Caedmon was rolling all over the place, green worried faces were everywhere and it was a real struggle not to get my pint of beer all over me. I loved it....
Anchoring is not allowed anywhere within the approach channel or the harbour.
The Lymington Harbour Authority has dedicated visitor yacht berths on the Town Quay Pontoons, the extended Dan Bran pontoon and also have various mooring buoys. Otherwise there is Lymington Yacht Haven, and the Berthon Lymington Marina, both with the possibilities of visitors berths. All the options are now covered together with prices:
Many visitors make straight for the Town Quay pontoon, which has been recently redeveloped and now provides 46 walk ashore berths with power, water and free WiFi. Berths include 26 finger berths and 20 alongside / rafted berths. The Harbour Master may be able to allocate you a mooring buoy in this area. The maximum boat size is 12.2m.
Charges for pontoons (2022) at Town Quay are based on boat length; a 10m boat on a finger berth costs £36.00 per night (Sun to Thur), £43.00 per night (Fri & Sat) with four-hour short stays at £16.50. Rafting berths and the mooring buoys off Town Quay are cheaper. Visitors can get 7 nights moorings for the price of 5 if paid in advance.
The HM is more likely to direct visiting boats to the Dan Bran pontoon outside the Yacht Haven which and can accommodate boats up to 36.5m by special arrangement The facilities on this pontoon include shore power, water and free Wifi . The cost of mooring on this pontoon is lower than at Town Quay and based on boat length; a 10m boat will cost £33.00 per night (Sun to Thur) and £3900 per night (Fri & Sat) with a 7 for 5 day deal for boats under 31feet.
There are also 6 bookable berths for smaller boats up to 8m in length on the inside of the Harbour Master’s pontoon.
All the prices (2022) charged by Lymington Harbour include dues and free use of washrooms and free WiFi. The charges for the Town Quay and Dan Bran pontoons include free electricity (subject to available sockets). There are discounted stays for 7 nights and for 3 day visits over a weekend. Sailors are advised to book in advance or call ahead to check there is space available.
A link is provided below to the harbour office which has a complete list of the various pricings.
Lymington Yacht Haven. This truly gigantic marina just within the river has no dedicated visitors berths but welcomes visitors who they spread around berths vacated by owners away cruising. The best plan is to call them on VHF channel 80 or telephone 01590 677071 to find out the score.
This is the first Marina you come to on your port hand side as you enter, and the method of entry has already been described. Berthing fees here (2022) are £4.50 per metre per night up to 12.5 metres and £5.50 pmpn over 12.5 metres.which includes VAT,shore power, showers, WiFi etc. They have done away with charging extra for the weekend and they refurbished all their facilities over the winter 2015/16. Winter rates are around half these figures.
Link to their website:
Lymington Marina opposite the ferry's railway station is accessible at all states of the tide and allocates over 60 berths for visitors and can handle vessels up to 45 m long. The Dock Office can be contacted on 01590 647404, on VHF channel 80 or 37. The charges here are £4.61 per metre per day(includes VAT, Shore power & WiFi) with short stays at half the daily rate. They run the floating fuel dock selling diesel and petrol, and also have impressive shore-side and boatyard facilities. Link to site below:
And that about covers your options in Lymington.
Updated March 2022
From 1st April 2022 until2nd May 2022 the wahroom facilities at Town Quay are being refurbished. There are temporary showers but you will have to use public toilets in the Bath Road car park or those in New Street off the High street
Starting first with the Town Quay once again, the Town Quay pontoon has recently been redeveloped and now has 46 walk ashore berths with power, water and free WiFi. Berths include 26 finger berths and 20 alongside / rafted berths. The Harbour Master may be able to allocate you a mooring buoy in this area. The maximum boat size is 12.2m
Showers, and toilets are available.and they've been refurbished recently. They are now cleaned regularly, with access by keypad. The big advantage of berthing here is of course being in the middle of town, with shops and chandleries all nearby.
The Harbour Authority also have a number of fore and aft visitor bouys in the Town Quay area.
Further downstream, near the Royal Lymington Yacht Club and Lymington Town Sailing Club, is the Dan Bran pontoon which offers full service walk ashore berthing facilities for visiting boats, with crews able to use the Lymington Town Sailing Club washroom and shower facilities. This pontoon is ideal for accommodating visitor rallies and up to 50 (10m) boats can be rafted together.
The Harbour Commissioners run a wide concrete slipway from the Bath Road car park with access at three quarters of the tidal range for trailer Sailer's, check their website above. There is a charge for launching. Please pay Harbour staff on the slipway, or at the nearby Harbour Office, or online..
For further information on slipway safety and charges -
Three scrubbing grids are available immediately north of the Royal Lymington Yacht Club. Reservations and payment must be made through the harbour office first.
Going back to the Marinas and starting with Lymington Yacht Haven, the facilities available include water and electricity on the pontoons, toilets and showers open 24 hours a day, a fuel berth and rubbish disposal facilities including waste oil. Calor and camping gas can be obtained at the fuel berth, or at the on-site Chandlers. A launderette is available here too. Security is tight with night patrols and CCTV. There are various on-site specialists including electronics and riggers, check the business directory. WiFi access is available. The disadvantage with this place is the 15 minute hike to the town, although there is a bar/bistro on-site and the Chandler also sells basic foodstuffs. If you don't fancy the walk to town a water taxi runs between the Yacht Haven and the Town Quay during the summer months.
Lymington Marina also offers all the usual facilities with water and electricity on the pontoons, laundry facilities, toilets and showers, WiFi and the fuel berth in the River. Gas bottles can be exchanged at the Marina office. The long-established yard ashore can handle virtually any kind of work, and has a 75 tonne travel lift, together with shoreside laying up facilities. It is a five minute walk to the town from here.
In general virtually every need for the boat can be met in Lymington, and a glance at the business directory will show the scope of services available.
The Lymington Town Sailing Club welcomes all bona fide yachtsmen and has a restaurant, with good views of the Solent. Telephone 01590 674514, or link to website for further details:
The Royal Lymington Yacht Club only accommodates members belonging to other RYA affiliated clubs, who have reciprocal arrangements. They have magnificent premises with their own pontoons and the bar and restaurant. Contact them on 01590 672677, or view their website below:
Ashore in the town will be found the shops, banks (many with cashpoints), pubs and restaurants that you would expect to find in a well-to-do town of medium size. For provisioning there is a choice between Tesco Metro (being the closest) together with the larger Waitrose Supermarket, or Marks & Spencer's. All kinds of smaller bakers, delicatessens, and specialist food shops can be found.
Transport links are good, with direct bus services going to Brockenhurst, and other destinations. Lymington has two railway stations one at the harbour, meeting the ferry and another in the town. A little chug chug branch line connects to Brockenhurst, from where mainline connections can be had to London and the North. The ancient rolling stock on this line must be the last examples of slam door trains still in use, nevertheless they run reliably. The already mentioned Wight Link ferries connect regularly to Yarmouth.
Lymington Notes from member Garry Flashman
The ferries noted in the pilotage instructions have their plus side - Lymington Town Station provides a good service via Southampton to London making this a good place for crew changes or if for some reason you find yourself holed up.
Royal Lymington Yacht Club
The Royal Lymington welcomes ‘members of reciprocated and other RYA affiliated clubs’.
Lymington Town Sailing Club
Here we have always enjoyed a very warm welcome. Their facilities are excellent, with a large clubroom and an excellent kitchen. Their balcony looks across the public swimming pool (sometimes good for a laugh) to the salt marshes and the Solent beyond.
There is a large slipway alongside for trailer sailors, and the club is very close to Lymington Marina and the Dan Bran pontoon, and is within easy walking distance of Berthon and the town centre.
Berthing and Facilities
Lymington Yacht Haven
Just as you pass the breakwater on your port hand is the Yacht Haven. This is a fully serviced marina, with it’s own club and restaurant. Visitors are welcome, with water, electricity and WiFi available.
Dan Bran Pontoon
This is a walk ashore facility with electricity, water and WiFi. It fronts onto the river, just past the entrance to the Yacht Haven, and is operated by the Harbour Commissioners. Advance booking is required. It is very suitable for Rallies and similar meets.
Use of the Lymington Town Sailing Club facilities is included in the mooring fee.
Further up the river, again on your port hand, is Berthon. Also fully serviced and closer to the town centre.
If you don’t mind rafting - up to four deep - there is good berthing alongside the quay itself. The facilities are a matter of yards away and while not luxurious they are very clean and they do the job.
Just a few paddle strokes away are the fore and aft mooring buoys and further down the mid river pontoons, which are of course quieter. There is no electricity or water, and there is no water taxi service.
There’s a chandlers very close to the Quay which while it looks more like a tourist outlet with crabbing nets etc it is actually quite well stocked. Turn left as you leave the Quay and Force 4 have an outlet, again well stocked.
Both the yacht haven and Berthon offer full yard services. Indeed Berthon have one of the biggest yards around, with clients including the Police and MOD.
Fuel is available alongside at both Berthon - the barge is opposite the ferry terminal - and the Yacht Haven.
Lymington on the west bank of the Lymington River is a port on the Solent, in the New Forest district of Hampshire, England. It is to the east of the South East Dorset conurbation, and faces Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight which is connected to it by a car ferry, operated by Wightlink. The town has a large tourist industry, based on proximity to the New Forest and the harbour. It is a major yachting centre with three marinas. According to the 2001 census the Lymington urban area had a population of about 14,000.
The town has many shops, catering for tourists and sailing enthusiasts alike. There is a local market every Saturday, which takes place in the main High Street. The market is fairly typical for southern England, selling a selection of cheap general household items, craft items and a selection of food produce from the local area.
Due to the recent change in planning legislation, many traditional areas of the town have been redeveloped; older houses have been demolished and replaced with new blocks of flats and retirement homes. The high street has also seen rapid change over the last couple of years with an increasing presence of chain stores and coffee shop franchises. In recent months approval has been granted to a large development of retirement flats adjacent to the historic quay area. In a recent channel 5 program, Lymington received the accolade of 'best town on the coast' in the UK for living, due to its beautiful scenery, strong transport links, low crime levels, and high quality of life.
The earliest settlement in the Lymington area was at the Iron Age fort at Buckland known as Buckland Rings. The hill and ditches of this fort still remain.
Lymington itself began as an Anglo-Saxon village. The Anglo-Saxons, probably Jutes, arrived in what is now South West Hampshire in the 6th century. They founded a settlement called limen tun. The Saxon word tun means a farm or hamlet. Limen is believed to be a Celtic name meaning either elm river or possibly, marshy river.
The town is recorded in the Domesday book of 1086 as "Lentune". About 1200 the lord of the manor, William de Redvers gave the town its first charter and the right to hold a market. The town became a Parliamentary Borough in 1585 returning 2 MPs until 1832. Lymington continued to return 2 MPs until the Second Reform Act of 1867 when its representation was reduced to one. On the passage of the Third Reform Act of 1885 Lymington's parliamentary representation was merged with the New Forest Division.
From the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century Lymington was famous for making salt. Saltworks comprised almost a continuous belt along the coast toward Hurst Spit.
In the eighteenth and early nineteenth century Lymington possessed a military depot that included a number of foreign troops-mostly artillery but including several militia regiments. At the time of the Napoleonic Wars the King's German Legion was based here. As well as Germans and Dutch, there were French émigrés, and French regiments were raised to take part in the ill fated Quiberon bay expedition (1795), from which few returned.
From the late seventeenth century it had a thriving shipbuilding industry. Much of the town centre is Victorian and Georgian, with narrow cobbled streets, giving an air of quaintness. The wealth of the town at the time is represented in its architecture.
Lymington is particularly famous for its smuggling history, there are unproven stories that under the High Street are smugglers' tunnels which run from the old inns to the town quay.
Lymington was one of the boroughs reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835. In addition to the original town, 1932 saw a major expansion of the borough, to add Milton (previously an urban district) and the parishes of Milford on Sea and Pennington, and parts of other parishes, from Lymington Rural District - this made the borough extend west along the coast to the border with Christchurch.
Under the Local Government Act 1972 the borough of Lymington was abolished on April 1, 1974, becoming an unparished area in the district of New Forest, with Charter Trustees. The area was parished as the four parishes of New Milton, Lymington and Pennington, Milford-on-Sea and Hordle.
Lymington New Forest Hospital opened in 2007, replacing the earlier Lymington Hospital.
Lymington in Fiction
The High Street and ChurchLymington is mentioned in 'The Children of the New Forest' by Captain Marryat. It also features in the historical novels of local writer Warwick Collins (namely 'The Rationalist' and 'The Marriage of Souls') and 'The Forest' by Edward Rutherfurd.
In Tom Clancy's 'Patriot games', a wight link ferry heading from the Lymington ferry terminal is intercepted and a prisoner is extracted in heavy seas. Several men on board the ferry are murdered.
Lymington also occasionally featured in the 1980s series Howard's Way.
Lymington is also famous for its sailing history, and in recent years, has been home to world famous regattas such as the Royal Lymington Cup, Etchells Worlds, Macnamara's Bowl, and Source Regatta. The strong tides make it a challenging race track, and together with the shallow depth of the river, has resulted in Lymington losing a lot of regattas to the Central Solent, principally run from Cowes. Nevertheless, Thursday Evening Racing takes place with up to 100 boats registered to race every Thursday night during the summer, hosted by the Royal Lymington Yacht Club. Started in the 1990s, it has continued to become more and more popular.
There are two Sailing Clubs in the town, both active. The Royal Lymington Yacht Club, founded in the 1920s as the Lymington River Sailing Club, now has over 3000 members, and now plays host to major keelboat and dinghy events. The Lymington Town Sailing Club, founded in 1946, plays host to the popular Lymington Winter Series known as the Solent Circuit.
Sailors from Lymington continue to dominate Olympic events, most notably Ben Ainslie and Pippa Wilson.
The town's leisure amenities include; several parks, two sailing clubs, a community centre, a library, the St Barbes Museum and Gallery, two swimming baths (one is an open air sea water baths dating back to the 1830s), a sports centre and a very small cinema/theatre. Lymington, being near the New Forest, is also a good location for walking, cycling and riding.
Lymington has a wide range of shops and a large street market on the High Street as well as three supermarkets: Waitrose (The Largest), Marks & Spencer Simply Food, and Tesco.
Lymington has two railway stations: Lymington Pier (the terminus), on the east side of the river near the ferry terminal, and Lymington Town. These stations are connected to the national rail network by a branch line to Brockenhurst. Services are currently operated by South West Trains, and are unofficially known as the "Lymington Flyer". This branch line is one of the last places in the country that old "slam-door" trains can be seen in operation, as a "heritage" service.
The A337 road links Lymington to Lyndhurst and the M27 motorway to the north, and to New Milton and the South East Dorset conurbation to the west.
Three Wightlink ferries have run from Lymington to Yarmouth since the 1970s, named after Anglo Saxon Kings: Cenred, Cenwulf and Caedmon. The ferries on average run every 30 minutes, from a port south east of the old town on the far side of the Lymington River.
Lymington Notes from member Garry Flashman
Close to Lymington Yacht Haven the Mayflower has a large garden and a large, pleasant lounge. It has a good kitchen, and offers accommodation.
The Ship Inn
You can’t miss it, The Ship overlooks the quay. Traditionally a favourite haunt of visiting yachtsmen, The Ship now bills itself as a premium bar restaurant, and its prices reflect this.
The Kings Head
Stroll past the chandlers and the tourist shops, up the cobbled hill and on your left is the Kings Head. A traditional, old fashioned pub they offer a good menu, a range of well kept ales all at reasonable prices, and friendly service. Well worth a visit.
The Six Bells
A typical Wetherspoons house, and as with all ‘Spoons, the beer is good, as is the food, and the prices are excellent. The ambience is light and airy.
It’s well worth the ten minute walk up the High Street from the quay, and on your way you’ll pass Banks, the Post Office, a Tescos and plenty more useful outlets. Just up the road is a Marks & Spencer supermarket.