Love the ancient New Forest, but feel the pull of the ocean? No problem. Bordering the 220-square-mile New Forest National Park and spooning The Solent, the Georgian market town of Lymington offers a beautiful blend of both coast and countryside.
Consistently topping the charts as one of the best places to live in the UK, Lymington has got location nailed. From its cobbled streets, independent boutique shops and stunning Georgian architecture to the three marinas and pretty quayside lined with top-notch bars and restaurants, it’s perfect for watching the world sail by, drink in hand.
While a third of the population is 65 and over, Lymington is proving to be a popular choice for city dwellers looking to escape the bustle; families come for the idyllic location and superb schools.
The ancient seaport has a rich maritime history, too, having earned a reputation as a smuggling hub; rumour has it secret tunnels run between the quayside and the inns. Today, yachting is big business here with a choice of sailing clubs and two of the biggest marinas in the Solent.
If sailing’s not your thing, there’s delightful coastal walks along the Solent Way with views across to the Isle of Wight. Grab your binoculars and check out Lymington and Keyhaven Marshes; spanning 740 hectares, the nature reserve teems with fish and, as a result, thousands of sea birds and waders flock here making it a unique and protected historical coastal habitat.
Don’t miss the Saturday market – established in 1250 – which takes over the colourful High Street each week; fill your basket with everything from plants, locally-produced food and craft while mingling with the locals.
Come July, the town hosts the annual Lymington Seafood Festival with its cookery school, masterclasses and delicious stands selling fishy delights and locally-grown English sparkling wines.
WHERE TO BUY
As expected, property is in high demand in Lymington. The south of the High Street is a particularly popular area with its sloping cobbled streets and Georgian buildings. But, according Knight Frank, period homes only make up part of the property market. In recent years, a number of stylish developments have found their place in Lymington, offering spacious penthouses, contemporary interiors and wow-worthy sea views. Further inland, you’ll find imposing country manor houses and idyllic, thatched, forest cottages.
Lymington’s much-wanted location commanded an overall average price of £583,318 over the last year, according to Rightmove. The majority of sales were detached properties, selling for an average price of £909,897. Flats sold for an average of £235,526, with terraced properties fetching £514,965.
Overall, sold prices in Lymington over the last year were ten per cent down on the previous year and eight per cent up on the 2020 peak of £541,714.
At the upper end, there are properties to for sale with price tags of £7m, complete with 23-acres, a walled garden and outdoor swimming pool. At the lower end, you could bag a one-bedroom retirement apartment for £110,000.
Lymington is located between Bournemouth and Southampton, both around 30-40 minutes via train and 45 minutes by car. Lymington to London Waterloo will take 95 – 120 minutes each way, changing at Brockenhurst station. The nearest airport is Southampton, less than an hour away by car.
Lymington has a good choice of primary and secondary schools, including both state and independent options.
Hordle CofE (VA) Primary School, Lymington Church of England Infant School, Our Lady and St Joseph Catholic Primary School are ranked as outstanding by Ofsted.
Of the independents, Walhampton School offers a day and boarding prep, while Durlston Court is an Independent Preparatory and Senior school for boys and girls ages two to 16, located in Barton on Sea, New Milton.
Owning a home-by-the-sea comes with a price tag; Lymington was named the fifth most expensive seaside town in Britain (by Halifax). Its enviable location makes it an ideal choice for a weekend bolthole or seaside retirement home, which has helped to drive up the prices. Unsurprisingly, a higher-than-usual number of millionaires call the affluent harbour town home.
It’s also worth noting that the New Forest National Park – voted the number one National Park in Europe and the tenth best National Park in the world (by 2022 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards for Destinations) – welcomes over 15 million visitors every year; so expect queues of tourists come peak season.
Despite its small size, Lymington has a vibrant art scene with lots of galleries to visit and peruse creations from local artists – from Clarendon Fine Art to Coastal Gallery Lymington. Don’t miss St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery who host unique exhibitions regularly supported by Tate, V&A and National Maritime Museum.
Cold water swimmers will love Lymington Sea Water Baths, the oldest open air sea water baths in the UK, dating back to 1833; kids can tackle the 120m inflatable obstacle course located here too, along with stand-up paddle boards and an area for laps or a family swim. For a unique view of Lymington, hire a kayak from Lymington Kayaks on the Quayside.
Lymington doesn’t just offer fun on the water, dive beneath the surface and you can discover many shipwrecks on the seabed. Dave Wendes from White Spirit Diving Charters has been operating out of Lymington for 20 years.
Worked up an appetite? Hampshire has earned a solid reputation for its foodie credentials and Lymington is no exception. Fine diners can feast on a seven-course taster menu at Michelin-recommended The Elderflower for modern British food with a French twist; seafood lovers should make a beeline for The Haven Bar & Restaurant at the marina with wraparound views of the Solent and the Isle of Wight.
During the mid-to-late 19th century Lymington had over 40 inns and taverns lining the cobbled streets; while pub crawls may not be quite as epic today, there’s still a good choice of pubs. Smack bang in the middle of the High Street you’ll find the oldest establishment, dating back to the 13th century; The Angel and Blue Pig is now a gastropub-cum-boutique-hotel with bags of character and cosy nooks. Those in-the-know head to neighbouring Hordle for Sunday lunch of champions at The Old Mill, set alongside the Avon River.
STAY BEFORE YOU BUY
Treat yourself to a slice of Riviera-chic in this family (and dog) friendly riverside retreat (sleeps eight). From its waterside views on Lymington’s shoreline to its own private slipway and landscaped gardens with hot tub, Harbour View provides the perfect locale for a paddleboard or soaking up the sunset with a glass of something sparkling. From £223 per night. newforestescapes.com/property/harbour-view/
The Boat Shed
You’ll find this cool and chic bolthole by-the-sea tucked amongst the trees; calm and seclusion guaranteed. The nautical-inspired The Boat Shed is a mini Grand Designs-style home and packs an architectural punch with its shingle cladding, log burner, multi-tasking living space, sleep space under the eaves and sunny, sheltered veranda. Unsurprisingly, the owners, Alice and Henning Stummel, have appeared on the eponymous Channel 4 programme with their London home, The Tin House. From £110 per night. newforestescapes.com/property/the-boat-shed/
WHAT YOU CAN GET FOR YOUR MONEY
Here are some of our favourite Lymington and surrounding area properties for sale:
VICARS HILL (OFFERS IN EXCESS OF £7,000,000)
A captivating seven-bedroom property accessed through a grand, meandering driveway, nestled within approximately 23 acres of exquisitely manicured gardens, parkland, and paddocks. knightfrank.co.uk/properties/residential/for-sale/vicars-hill-lymington-hampshire-so41/LYM012305005
DOCK LANE (GUIDE PRICE £2,975,000)
An extended Arts and Crafts style house set within grounds of approximately 2.3 acres off the private Dock Lane with views over surrounding countryside to the Beaulieu River. rightmove.co.uk/properties/134006378#/?channel=RES_BUY
DANIELLS WALK (GUIDE PRICE £1,895,000)
Set back from this quiet, residential street and located South of Lymington High Street the property has been significantly upgraded by the current owners to create an impressive and spacious home. knightfrank.co.uk/properties/residential/for-sale/daniells-walk-lymington-hampshire-so41/LYM012236092
SPRINGMEAD (GUIDE PRICE £1,275,000)
An attractive and well-designed five-bedroom home which provides well balanced living and bedroom accommodation. knightfrank.co.uk/properties/residential/for-sale/springmead-lymington-hampshire-so41/lym012203658