It is extraordinary to think that 200 years ago the Keyhaven Lymington Nature Reserve was a major industrial area, covered with evaporation ponds, wind pumps and boiling houses, producing thousands of tons of sea salt a year.
Although there is evidence of salt making on this site going back to Iron Age times, it was in the eighteenth century that the industry reached its height (with at least 149 pans), exporting salt to Newfoundland, Scandinavia and the Channel Isles.
The Old Salt Houses
From then on taxes, the cost of coal, and competition from rock salt produced in Cheshire led to a gradual decline. Production finally finished in 1865. There is an old map on the Vision of Britain site, dated 1868, which gives a good idea of the extent of the works.
Apart from some ponds and various lumps and bumps, the only substantial remains are the two Georgian Salt Houses next to Creek Cottage.
There is more information on a display board on the far side of the bridge over the sluce at Moses Dock, if you are interested.
This fine walk of just under three miles (4.7 km) is mostly along the sea wall separating the old salt pans from the Solent. As well as the industrial remains, it offers grand views of the Isle of Wight and is a great place for bird watching too.