Paddleboarding & kayaking in the New Forest – Buckler’s Hard to Beaulieu

By August 29, 2022 March 27th, 2023 No Comments

Paddleboarding & kayaking in the New Forest makes for a peaceful and tranquil day trip, exploring the beautiful Beaulieu River and quaint village of Beaulieu, situated on the southeastern edge of the New Forest.

Kayaking in the New Forest


Beaulieu is a small and popular village situated in the New Forest, you may recognise it for being home to the British National Motor Museum and Palace house, although Beaulieu has plenty more to offer. Make sure you wander down the 16th-century village high street where you can frequently see wild donkeys and horses roaming, there are also a couple of cute local coffee and cake shops to call into on your way.

Beaulieu is the perfect spot for a riverside picnic, with plenty of grassy verges alongside the river. The Beaulieu river is one of the few remaining privately owned rivers in the world, unfortunately you can’t swim in the river due to the amount of boat and kayak traffic. The river is perfect for kayaking and paddleboarding due to it’s twists and turns and idyllic location.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Buckler’s Hard

Buckler’s Hard is a hamlet on the banks of the Beaulieu River, with iconic Georgian cottages running down either side towards the river. Buckler’s Hard was once a thriving shipbuilding village and today is still relatively untouched, you’ll find a museum here along with the Yachtsman’s Bar & garden which is perfect for a drink stop.

Family walks in the new forest
Kayaking in the New Forest

If you own a kayak… follow this beautiful route on the Beaulieu River, starting at Buckler’s Hard, and heading to Beaulieu and back.

Route Summary

Start & Launch, (own equipment) Buckler’s Hard Car Park: SO42 7XB.
Duration, 3 miles from your start & launch spot at Buckler’s Hard to reach Beaulieu, another 3 miles to return back.
Safety, wear the relevant safety equipment (recommendations on this page) 

The Beaulieu River is tidal, make sure you check tide times before setting off.

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Kayaking in the New Forest

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Buckler’s Hard – Start & Launch

The starting point for this trip, paddleboarding and kayaking in the New Forest, is Buckler’s Hard car park, you can get here by following this postcode: SO42 7XB. There are very few alternative options close to here that offer a free parking. The car park is pay and display and there are operational cameras which track you entering and exiting the car park. After a 15 minute stay you have 24 hours to make your parking payment, so be careful not to get a ticket! You can pay for parking either online or by the touch screen parking meters located outside the cafe. The car park is only a short walk down to the waters edge, which is perfect for carrying kayaks and paddle boards.

Kayaking in the New Forest
Kayaking in the New Forest


The Beaulieu River is tidal, which is something to always bear in mind when planning your trip. As a gage, the least safe tide state for beginner kayakers to paddle in is mid-tide. During high/low tide the water current will be weaker. During mid-tide the water will be moving quicker, this is great if you are going with the current, not so good if you are fighting against it. During low tide parts of the river get quite shallow so it’s worth sticking to the lane marked for boats to make sure you don’t scrape your fin on the bottom of the river bed.

To stay safe on your trip, make sure you wear a buoyancy aid (you can find a recommendation at the bottom of this page). Make sure your buoyancy aid is a snug fit, with no risk of slipping over your head. Make sure you pack enough water for the time you are planning to be out, and always ensure you take a phone in case you need to call for help in an emergency.

Kayaking in the New Forest

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


You may notice on the Beaulieu River there are lots of small jellyfish floating around just below the surface of the water. These are Moon jellyfish which are the most common jellyfish you will find in our UK waters. According to the Wildlife Trust, they don’t sting humans, so there is no need to fear them whilst on your paddle. Did you know that jellyfish are 95% water and have no brain, blood or heart, pretty intriguing and definitely makes for an interesting sight to spot whilst on your trip.

New Forest Activities – Kayak hire

New Forest Activities provide a range of adventures on the Beaulieu River, from kayak hire, to full day adventures on the water. Single kayak hire price starts at £25 for 2 hours, and double kayak hire starts at £50 for 2 hours. *Prices accurate from 29/08/2022, check the New Forest Activities website to ensure you have the most recent prices. If you are less confident on the water why not try a kayaking adventure trip where you will be lead by experienced guides to allow you to quickly get to grips with kayaking.

You can find New Forest Activities at this address: Buckler’s Hard, Beaulieu, Hampshire, SO42 7XB.

Kayaking in the New Forest

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Recommended kit for paddleboarding & kayaking in the New Forest

Check out the below kit to ensure you have everything you need for a safe and exciting adventure paddleboarding or kayaking in the New Forest. Please note that this blog contains affiliate links. If you buy something through these links, Destination Downtime earns a small commission (at no extra cost to you). Thanks in advance for your support. 

Buoyancy Aid

New lifejackets sold in the UK, Ireland and Europe are required to meet the international Standards Organisation standard ISO12402. For kayaking you need a buoyancy aid at level 50. Make sure the lifejacket is a good fit, comfortable and non-restricting.

Waterproof Phone Case

A cheap purchase that brings hours of piece of mind! The exact model I use is no longer available however, this is extremely similar. I would recommend testing your case out before you hit the water by popping something inside and submerging it in water.

Waterproof Dry Bag

To ensure your personal belongings are kept dry on your kayak consider investing in a good quality waterproof bag. This bag features 2 adjustable shoulder straps and buckles to make it easy to carry. To free your hands you can use it as a large volume backpack, it also comes in plenty of cool colours to choose from.

Water Shoes

It’s a great idea to purchase a pair of water shoes to ensure you don’t ruin your trainers form submerging them in water. These water shoes are quick drying, lightweight, and fit snuggly on your feet.

Beaulieu on Instagram

Will you be heading out on an adventure paddleboarding or kayaking in the New Forest? Share your adventures below in the comments.