Milford On Sea SUP (Keyhaven)
This popular Milford On Sea SUP takes you to Hurst Castle perched on the edge of the Solent. The nearest piece of mainland UK to the Isle Of Wight.
≈ Quick Facts:
- Launch point: Slipway by Keyhaven Yacht Club
- Distance to castle: 1 mile
- How long does it take: 1/2 hour to castle
- Shelter from wind: South Westerly
- Best tide: High Tide
- Pay to park: Yes at Keyhaven car park
- Parking distance: 1 minute walk
- Do you pay to launch: No
- SUP rental: No
- Wildlife: Sea birds
- Eat & Drink: not much – 1 pub & no Cafe
- Toilets: Yes in car park
- Hazards: Ferry wake & mud at low tide
Start at 1 minute 30 seconds…
≈ Location Guide:
Where to park & launch a SUP at Milford On Sea?
The only place to park is the main can park adjacent to the Keyhaven yacht club. It’s a reasonable size so if you don’t arrive too late in the day you should have no issues finding a space. Drive via New Milton, then Milford on Sea to get to Keyhaven. There are toilets in the car park. There is also a small shop at the entrance to the yacht club that sells basics such as bars of chocolate and instant coffee. Non members are not allowed to walk through the yacht club to launch paddleboards. You must walk out of the car park, then along a short footpath alongside the road. Turn left at the first road on the left and walk another 30 seconds to a public slipway. It’s a decent size launch area but can get pretty hectic at weekends with a constant stream of people launching small sailing dingies, kayaks and SUPS etc.
I struggled to find a quiet spot anywhere in Keyhaven to install the wife on a sun lounger, but there are plenty of benches to sit on. Saying that if you walk to the opposite side of the water to the town there is a shingly beach that you could sit on. It can be a tad uncomfortable in a Southwesterly, the wind will be straight on to the beach.
About The Tides
At low tide most of the of the water disappears in Keyhaven lake and turns to MUD GLORIOUS MUD! You can still launch your SUP at Keyhaven slipway but you will be limited to paddleboarding in just the narrow boat channel en-route to Hurst castle. This can be quite hazardous due to a steady stream of boats heading in and out of the Solent. It will be a far better SUP experience at high tide. You will be able to keep well clear of the channel and also have fun weaving around the moored up boats as you head out to the castle.
What’s there to see when you SUP Keyhaven?
The water located between Keyhaven and Hurst castle is named Keyhaven Lake. This is the main SUP area from Milford on Sea.
When you first launch the view isn’t too bad. There is a tree lined stoney beach directly ahead and a reasonable sized piece of water for beginner paddleboarders to find their sea legs.
The scenery changes after approx five minutes SUP from the slipway. The majority of the route is made up of uninspiring flat marshland with the odd creek cutting through. Not very interesting to look at really. I am very wary of jumping off the board anywhere along the edge of the marshy bits, might end up to my neck in mud. One entire side of the marsh is protected by a high shingle beach that walkers trudge along to reach the castle from Milford on sea.
The best thing about this section of the SUP is a long string of yachts moored along most of the route between Keyhaven and Hurst Castle.
A constant stream of small ferries use the boat channel to transport tourists between Keyhaven and Hurst castle. The big issue with these boats is that they throw out quite a sizable wake which can unsettle your SUP big time. Some of them drive straight at you, I get the feeling they don’t want paddleboarders around. I’m sure one driver was intentionally attempting to run me down, I was not best pleased!!! (not the guy in the photo by the way)
Once you near the castle there is a jetty on the right. I’ve seen a video of a reporter paddleboarding towards this, jumping up while the SUP flys under neath the jetty and land again on the other side.
There is also a second jetty slightly nearer to the castle, this is an awesome spot to sit for a bit and enjoy the view.
As you SUP nearer to Hurst castle you will get and excellent view of the full length of the structure. I must confess though, the view of the castle from the water is pretty uninspiring to be honest, it almost doesn’t look like a castle at all. More like a very long and very high, grey wall. Also at this point there is a decent view of the large white lighthouse standing to the left.
The water at this end is nicely sheltered from the wind and waves, due to the half moon shape of the bay that the castle sits on.
Most of the water’s edge under the castle has a very landable beach, you can jump off no problem, but be careful it’s all shingle, not sand, so quite painful on bare feet. Might be a good idea to take pair of flip flops with you.
There is a large grassy area in front of the castle, right by the main entrance.
A good spot to take a drink break and watch the ferries and paddleboarders coming and going.
If you have the time you can SUP onward from here out to the open ocean of The Solent. Behind Hurst Castle you will enjoy a panoramic view of the Isle of Wight. It is only a short hop from here to the island, this is the nearest point of mainland UK to the island. WARNING: I wouldn’t advise paddleboarding to the IOW on your own from here though, unless you have boat support and rescue helicopter! There are some incredibly strong currents pushing through the Solent.
Other SUPS via Keyhaven:
- Keyhaven is a good launch point for a downwinder SUP to Lymington in a South westerly wind direction. I will defo try this out on another trip!
- Paddleboarding to IOW from Keyhaven, strong currents and lots of boat traffic, some very big!
- There is also a very nice coastal walk that takes you all the way to Lymington from here, dotted with lakes and stunning countryside and not many buildings. There is also a shorter coastal path that heads the other way up the coast to Milford on sea.