Lymington Reedbeds Nature Reserve is owned and managed by The Hampshire and IOW Wildlife Trust HWT and is the largest area of reedbeds on the South coast. The reserve covers an area of 76 acres and at its southern point is separated from the main estuary by causeway, built in 1731 (Bridge Road).
The reedbeds are nesting grounds for the rare Cetti’s warbler and bearded tit and the habitat for martins, swallows, yellow wagtails, reed warblers and water rails. During winter months snipe feed in the sheltered reeds. Other significant species include the otter and water vole.
Distance: 2.2 miles (route defined by the red pins)
about 1 hour
alongside the bend in the road; Undershore
The start of the walk is though a small wooded area. In the wooded area there is a gate which defines the northern border of the Lymington Reedbeds Nature Reserve. The area from the gate to Shallows Bridge is privately owned by Vicars Hill Farm with a right of way path running along the marsh edge. The farm until recent times was a dairy farm with the cattle grazing alongside the river.
The river just south of Vicars Hill farm.
The river is mostly flanked by reeds and boggy land with lush vegetation. The path up to Shallows Lane can get very muddy in wet weather, boots are advised.
Showing the path running in front of the fence. The gate in the corner of the picture is another footpath passing through Vicars Hill Farm.
In the distance ponies graze in front of the river. The landscape on the east side of the river (Pember's Marsh) has probably remained unchanged for hundreds of years.
To the left you'll see Shallow Lane bridge that leads to Boldre Lane (the walk goes to the right)
There is no footpath on the Pilley Hill road and one has to walk along the grass verges. The roads, Undershore, School Lane and Warborne Lane are very quiet country roads.
Fleur de Lys in Pilley is one of the oldest pubs in the New Forest dating to the late 16th century.
The inn contains a list of landlords dating back to Benjamin Stones in 1498.The foundations point to an earlier building being on the site.
The Gilpins, formally a rectory and residence of Rev. William Gilpin from 1777 to 1788. Gilpin had a house built across the road and in 1788 he moved into what is now Southlands School for children with moderate learning difficulties and hence the area became know as Vicars Hill.
William Gilpin (1724-1804) was the headmaster of Cheam School in Surrey and on his retirement at the age of 53 years was given the living of Boldre by one of his former pupils, William Mitford of Exbury House. Another one of his pupils was the future poet Caroline Anne Bowles.
He was immortalised as Doctor Syntax by the writer William Coombe and the caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson.
Gilpin was a competent watercolourist, a distinguished art critic and had an important influence on the development of art in the late 18th century, in the movement away from the classical into the romantic or 'picturesque' landscape. He was the first president of the Water Colour Society.
Gilpin was married to his first cousin, Margaret Gilpin (1725-1807), in 1752.
He was also a popular author of art and by the end of his life, Gilpin's Essay on Prints had gone through four editions. He also produced religious publications.
He became vicar of Boldre church from 1777 till his death in 1804. After taking up the appointment he devoted his life to improving the conditions of local people. He held enlightened views on educating children and personally built a parish school that now bears his name with the proceeds from his books and the sale of his paintings. There is a monument commemorating his life in the church and his tomb is in the churchyard.