Story of salterns, sea monsters and saving the day

A short history of Keyhaven Nature Reserve

The reserve covers nearly 200 Ha (500 acres) between the mouth of the Lymington River and the village of Keyhaven. The mosaic of ponds, ditches and lagoons on the reserve support a large number of wetland plants and animals. In winter wading birds including the black tailed godwit, curlew and lapwing feed in the flooded pastures alongside wigeon and Brent geese. Spring sees the arrival of migrants from the south.

2,000 years of human activity have shaped the landscape that you see today. If you look carefully you will see signs of a major industry that once thrived here. What was this industry? Salt was manufactured here by impounding seawater in shallow lagoons, known as salterns where it was left to evaporate. Wind pumps were then used to draw off the brine solution into large metal pans where it was heated until only the salt remained.


    • Route
    • Temporarily closed
    • Restricted use


Start at the gate with the radar lock. Go along the track.

Go along to the information board. Then pass the bench and the lock.

Move just a little way along to the corner and follow the path down along the dock to the salt buildings.

Follow the lane back to the beginning.