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Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 17 September, 2022
Expert travel writer: Annabelle Thorpe

Famous for the row of Georgian cottages that run down to the river, Buckler’s Hard was originally built in the early eighteenth century, and soon became a national centre of shipbuilding. Several Naval warships were built at the site, including three that fought at the Battle of Trafalgar. In WWII the village was used to build motor torpedo boats.

Now the village is a living museum; one of the cottages has been re-created as a shipwright’s house as it would have been in the 18th century, and there are in-character guided tours of the village in summer. The Maritime Museum gives an insight into this small waterfront hamlet’s illustrious history.

While you’re there

In the summer months you can take a relaxing boat tour up the beautiful Beaulieu River. There’s commentary on the region’s history too.

There’s a lovely riverside walk from Beaulieu to Buckler’s Hard along the river. It’s about 2.5 miles and takes 1 hour each way. See the route on the website.

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

Bucklers’ Hard is around 2 hours’ drive from London, and 10 minutes’ drive from the picturesque village of Beaulieu. There’s a gated car park. The nearest train station is Brockenhurst – take a taxi from there (15-20 minutes by taxi).

When to do it

The indoor areas of the village are open all year round, seven days a week. You can of course walk around the exterior at anytime. See the website for the gated park times. It can get very crowded in the summer months and on weekends – go in the late afternoon, for tea and cake by the river.

Boat tours of the Beaulieu River only run from April to October.

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Master Builder’s Hotel

Beaulieu, Hampshire, United Kingdom (UK)[0.3 miles]

Stay in a slice of Britain’s seafaring history at this magical hotel, in an idyllic setting by the Beaulieu River.

Official star rating:

Montagu Arms Hotel

Beaulieu, Hampshire, United Kingdom (UK)[3 miles]

A traditional manor house hotel with a wonderful garden, in the picturesque village of Beaulieu.

Official star rating:

The Pig

Brockenhurst, Hampshire, United Kingdom (UK)[9.6 miles]

A chic country house hotel, with a focus on locally-sourced food and stylish bedrooms. Especially for romantics and foodies.

Official star rating:

The Huntsman of Brockenhurst

Brockenhurst, Hampshire, United Kingdom (UK)[10.6 miles]

A chic, chintz-free gastro pub with stylish rooms and wood-fired pizzas served in the charming garden. Perfect central location.

Official star rating:

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

New Forest

Hampshire, United Kingdom (UK)

A magical, highly accessible region of ancient woodland, open heathland and postcard-perfect traditional English villages.

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Our writer’s recommendations of other bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination, closest first

National Motor Museum

Beaulieu, Hampshire, United Kingdom (UK)[3.7 miles]

A world-famous motoring museum, boasting the biggest collection of vintage and contemporary cars in the country, alongside iconic vehicles from film and TV.

Best for ages: 4+ | £26

Mary Rose Museum

Portsmouth , Hampshire , United Kingdom (UK)[22.2 miles]

One of the world’s most extraordinary historic remains, the Mary Rose offers a unique glimpse into life at sea during the reign of Henry VIII.

Best for ages: 6+ | £24 | 1-2 hours

Other worthwhile experiences near this experience if you have time or interest..

Pond with reflection of Azalea bushes trees in background

Exbury Gardens & Steam Railway

Exbury, Hampshire, United Kingdom (UK)[1.9 miles]

Owned by the Rothschild family, this glorious 200-acre garden is home to a world-famous collection of azaleas and rhododenrons, and has its own steam railway.

Best for ages: 4+ | £15

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Setley Ridge Vineyard

Setley Ridge Vineyard

Brockenhurst, Hampshire, United Kingdom (UK)[10.4 miles]

Just outside Brockenhurst, Setley has been producing white, red and rose wine for twenty years, and offers pre-bookable tours and tastings.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

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New Forest Wildlife Park

New Forest Wildlife Park

Southampton, Hampshire, United Kingdom (UK)[11.2 miles]

Specialising in species that are native to the UK, the park is home to otters, badgers, bison and polecats, as well as ten different owl species, with regular feeding sessions that guarantee sightings.

Best for ages: 4+ | £14

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New Forest Reptile Centre

New Forest Reptile Centre

Lyndhurst, Hampshire, United Kingdom (UK)[15.3 miles]

Home to rare snakes, lizards and other British amphibians, visitors can also follow the Discovery Trail through the Forest, and picnic in the grounds.

Best for ages: 4+ | £5

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