Our favourite places to sail in the Solent and beyond
Where to sail in the Solent on a yacht charter
The Solent is the known as the heart of UK sailing and many people think of visiting Cowes, The Hamble or Beaulieu River as perhaps some of its most famous yachting destinations.
Getting to know the best places to sail in the Solent and further afield takes a little bit of time to explore. Our Solent Yacht Charter Cruising Guide aims to help highlight some of our favourite spots, that can make for a fun day or week of cruising around the Solent area.
Newtown Creek – the perfect anchorage:
One of the most stunning natural harbours in the Western Solent, Newtown Creek is a peaceful wildlife haven and beautiful anchorage. A mid-week trip can be best if you are chartering a yacht, as it can become busy at weekends. Frequently there are with a lot of powerboat day trippers, however they often don’t stay the night.
Newtown has a small narrow entrance, which is reasonably deep and clearly marked from the west cardinal buoy marking the entrance channel and two leading marks on the shore to guide you towards the entrance.
Immediately inside the harbour be sure to follow the navigational marks for the channels heading west or east, to avoid the shallows. There are some visitor buoys available in Newtown River, with the deepest ones nearest the entrance and a few in Clammerkin Lake to the east of the entrance.
Anchoring is permitted in Clammerkin Lake. Space can be limited and be sure to know you keel depth and the tidal rise and fall. The tides are similar to Yarmouth so use that data as your secondary port.
Once anchored, you can go ashore by dinghy to the pontoon in Newtown River where there are lovely walks out towards Yarmouth or inland. Or head to Shalfleet Quay and walk to the New Inn at Shalfleet village. Do remember to leave enough time to get back to your boat as the tide at the top creek will go right out!
Newtown Creek is run by the National Trust and you will be asked to pay for visitor mooring or make a donation if you anchor.
Navigation notes for Newtown Creek.
Lymington River – a real treat for yacht sailors:
When you sail in the Solent, Lymington is another fun port to visit by yacht. This beautiful, bustling New Forest market town has an extensive history back to the middle ages, famous for making salt and exporting this worldwide. It was attacked and burned in the French wars and by the C17th it’s boat building industry was established.
Now the river boasts two large fully serviced marinas, Lymington Yacht Haven and Berthon, as well as the recently renovated and extended Town Quay walk ashore pontoons, right in the heart of the town. The outer pontoons are suitable for larger boats, where rafting alongside another boat is normally allowed. Book in with the Lymington Harbour Commissioners.
Lymington has two yacht clubs, the Royal Lymington and Lymington Town and number of good pubs and eateries. If you are willing to venture further afield it’s worth a walk, or grab a taxi, to the Chequers Inn. A superb 16th Century old pub.
There are stunning walks in the New Forest with easy access to the east of the River. Or take the beautiful walk around the salt marshes all the way to Keyhaven, starting from the Lymington Yacht Haven.
Navigation notes for Lymington River.
Perhaps best known for its dramatic different coloured sands and cliffs, Allum Bay is a spectacular anchorage, with fantastic views up the Solent and across Christchurch Bay.
Allum Bay is the very last bay on the North Western tip of the Isle of Wight before the Needles. In the right conditions it can be the perfect stop for lunch, a place to wait for the tide or even to stay overnight. It’s well sheltered from the North East around to the South West, although a swell can be experienced in a south westerly breeze.
Study the charts and set up your chart plotter before you enter the bay as there are a few isolated shallow rocky patches.
Always check the predicted rise and fall of the tide between high water and low water, especially if you plan to stay any length of time or overnight, to ensure you have anchored with sufficient depth for your keel. Some areas will dry at low water springs, but you can normally find a pleasant anchorage reasonably close inshore.
Another absolute delight when you sail in the Solent is the historic fishing harbour at Bembridge. This charming harbour was previously much larger, extending across what are now reclaimed marshes to Brading.
When you arrive at Bembridge it can feel like time has stopped and the landscape has barely changed. There are two active sailing clubs, Bembridge and Brading Haven, which are both open to visiting yachtsmen. Around the southern shores are the boat sheds and an amazing line up residential house boats, from the very traditional to the most modern designs.
Nearby there’s a variety of eateries in Bembridge village, around the harbour itself and up the hill in St Helen’s. Bembridge is a super spot for walking around the Isle of Wight coastal path towards Shanklin or Seaview, or head inland across the Brading marshes and up to the monument at the top of Culver Down.
Or you can anchor off the beach at Priory Bay which is a popular sheltered spot for yacht sailors for swimming and BBQs before heading into the harbour for the evening.
Bembridge Harbour is now a tidal pool, with a dredged, sandy channel approach that dries completely at low water. The channel is clearly marked and access is normally straight forwards around 2.5 to 3 hours either side of High Water, depending on your keel length.
Contact Bembridge Harbour to book in.
Studland Bay – the start of the Jurassic coast:
It’s a super day sail from Portsmouth, out through the Needles Channel and over to Poole Bay, where you can anchor in Studland Bay. Here you’ll really feel like you are on holiday with sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs and the sound of the waves breaking on the rocks.
Check the forecast before you go as the bay gives good shelter in Westerly and Southerly winds. However, it can be uncomfortable in Northerly and Easterly winds, to the point of unsustainable to stay there. There are few boat facilities at Studland apart from a water tap, although there are many marinas inside Poole Harbour should you need to move from your anchorage.
It’s best to plan your sail to head down the Solent with the tide flowing West so you are not fighting tide past the Needles. Plan ahead for your navigation outside of Hurst Castle over to Poole.
In calmer conditions the most direct route is straight down the Needles Channel to Bridge and Fairway buoys, before setting your course for the Poole Channel. Alternatively, if conditions are a bit rough take the calmer North Channel route for a pleasanter sail, rather than risk getting caught in any overfalls after the Needles.
Near the sandy beach is a choice of café, tea room, the Old Harry Bar up the hill and The Pig on the Beach, to suit all levels of dining experience. There are easy walks up onto the Old Harry Rocks and out towards Swanage Bay with spectacular views up the Solent and into Poole Harbour.
Studland Bay is a protected area, with ongoing preservation of the eel grass sea beds. Read up and take note of any local anchoring restrictions and aim to just anchor once, with as little disturbance to the seabed as possible.
Navigation notes - Sail to Studland Bay
Feeling inspired by where you can sail to in the Solent?