Things to do this summer in Milford on Sea

New Forest Paddle Sport Company

New Forest Paddle Sport Company - Credit: Archant

There are plenty of activities and ways to enjoy a few days in and around Milford on Sea. Here’s what you can get up to in summer 2019

Catch your supper

Milford on Sea has earned a reputation for being a food lovers' haven - but why not dine on your own freshly-caught feast, straight from the Solent?

"My father started doing fishing trips from Keyhaven in 1960 and is still doing a few now," explains Greg of Greg Pitt Sea Fishing.

"I've been doing fishing trips, full-time, for 20 years, and before that I worked for the Hurst Castle Ferries, as well as having my own private fishing boat."

A mackerel trip is the perfect way to start for the whole family, he says. "My youngest passenger, so far, was just nine months old and the eldest in their 90s."

All the rods and tackles are supplied by Greg, so visitors just need to bring a bite to eat.

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"Some people just come along to enjoy the scenery of the boat ride in the Solent and Needles area, but most will have a go at fishing and any mackerel they catch are theirs to take home, if they wish," says Greg.

"I used to start the mackerel trips at the end of May, but over the last eight or nine years the numbers of mackerel around our coast have declined quite dramatically.

"They are tending to arrive later in the summer; so now I just run the mackerel trips during the school summer holidays."

There are two mackerel trips daily from 22 July - 1 September. The cost is £18 per person for a 3-hour trip or private charter at £165 for a maximum 10 people per trip. Pre-booking is essential as last year the trips were booked 3-4 weeks in advance.

Moonlit paddling

After years of visiting Milford on Sea and admiring the stunning coastal location of Keyhaven, Sean and Claire Scott wanted to share their love of paddle sports and get more people out on the water.

"Like all great ideas, it began in a pub. We wanted to launch our own business down here, using Sean's previous instructing career as a starting point. So, the New Forest Paddle Sport Company was born," says Claire.

"Over the summer of 2015 we acquired a shop and selected world-leading equipment for our fleet. Since then our range of services and friendly team of staff has grown and grown."

Sean says: "Each of our instructors started their paddling journey with us, and all remember what it's like to be a beginner. Being a family business, our people are key to our success, and we're proud that all our instructors are patient, enthusiastic and passionate in their teaching."

As well as kayaking and stand-up paddle board (SUP) lessons - the team also offers some unique experiences.

They explain: "The sunset picnic was a last minute idea we had one night after work - to throw a picnic together and paddle over to the castle to watch the sunset, before paddling back.

"We then thought that if we worked with one of the talented local chefs, Jesse Wells, at Hurst on the Hill, it would be the perfect way for others to explore, not only SUPs and Keyhaven, but also enjoy a locally-inspired seasonal picnic."

There have been plenty of wedding anniversary bookings and one romantic way to mark the occasion is a moonlit paddle.

The idea of organising these night-time trips, came from one of Sean and Claire's own adventures, a last minute decision to go out paddling in a full moon.

"It quickly became apparent that head torches weren't needed as the full moon over the island and Keyhaven lights your way. And the silent nature of SUP allows you to hear every little detail, from water lapping to fish moving. It's truly spectacular."

For absolute beginners, a one-hour taster session with a qualified instructor is the perfect way to learn the basics to paddle safely. £20 per person.

Throw some pots

Spend a long weekend throwing pots and feasting on cake in the pony-filled wilds of the New Forest at Vinegar Hill Pottery.

"We run one and three day courses - which are super popular and all of which are focused on the potter's wheel," explains Lucy Rogers, who runs the business with her husband David.

"We have eight wheels for eight people, meaning Dave has plenty of time to spend with each student as well as doing all the demos etc.

"Our three-day course finishes with a raku firing day (an ancient Japanese firing process) when the kiln is opened when the pots are red hot and they are then dunked in a bed of sawdust to get a fantastic lustre effect - there is a lot of fire and flames and it is all very exciting."

Lucy adds that a delicious sit-down lunch is included, along with lots of tea and cake.

"We offer accommodation as well, which works well for people who come from afar. So far people have come from as far afield as Canada, Spain, Hungary and Sweden to join us."

Don't miss the massively-popular 'Rosie' - a beautifully-restored 1885 showman's gypsy caravan that sits near the pottery, overlooking the woodland garden.

Courses cost £120 for the day, or £360 for 3 days. Accommodation starts at £85 a night including breakfast (for Rosie). Hayloft is £90 a night and the Garden Room is £100.

Grab a crab

Families will love Milford on Sea especially if they scoot or cycle along the cliff-top path in the direction of Sturt Pond Bridge, to partake in another seaside classic - crabbing!

Head to the 'crab bridge' armed with nets, buckets and crab lines; tie on your bait, drop your line in the water and wait… patience is the secret ingredient.

After a few minutes you can slowly raise your line and, if you're lucky, you may have scooped up a ten-legged crustacean. Pop him into the bucket of water, carefully, by holding the shell behind the pincers with your finger and thumb, to avoid a nasty nip.

Once you've celebrated the champion crab catcher, reward all your efforts with a delicious New Forest ice cream before setting your captured crab free.

Spirit sampling

For post-beach drinks, head to The Cave, a relaxed wine bar-come shop, with a big emphasis on local tipples.

Owner Jon Crouch, who grew up in the village, says: "We have been trading for six years and have established ourselves as a great alternative to the public houses we have in Milford.

"I love having businesses in Milford on Sea, this one is my fifth catering business in the village since my first, which was back in 2000.

"From day one, we advocate English sparkling wine as a great alternative to champagne or prosecco. The vineyards we have used and continue to use are Hattingley, Furleigh Estate, Hambledon Vineyards, Jenkyn Place, Langham Wine Estate, Cottonworth and Lyme Bay, to name a few.

"We were also the first bar in the area to construct an extensive gin menu, which has continued to grow over the years. We've benefitted from some local gin distillers, such as Beachcomber, which is made about two miles away from us at Efford; Mary Rose gin which was constructed in Lymington; Conker from Southbourne; Winchester Gin; Isle of Wight Mermaid from the Island; BH1 from Bournemouth and Lilliput from Poole."

A room with a view

After all that sea air, The Beach House is the perfect place to put your feet up. Just 200 yards from the beach, you can still enjoy the knock-out sea-views from one of the 15 ensuite rooms.

This Grade II-listed Victorian mansion has restored oak-panelled interiors, impressive stained glass windows and vintage furniture. Make sure you ask for the room with the beautiful free-standing copper bath and, if you don't want your pooch to miss out on all the beach-walking action, there are even a few dog-friendly rooms. A double room B&B starts from £100.


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