Christchurch A Day Out
Christchurch Dorset and Hengistbury Head. We have had a few trips to Christchurch in Dorset over the years, probably over Fifty trips. Christchurch is a Historic Town nestling between the busy resort of Bournemouth to the West and The New Forest National Park to the East. Sitting on Two Rivers the Avon and the Stour which flow into Christchurch Harbour. The Town’s History, Harbour, Beaches, Nature trails and Reserves make this a popular destination for Tourists. We have had a few trips to Christchurch in Dorset over the years, probably over a hundred. Christchurch is a Historic Town nestling between the busy resort of Bournemouth to the West and The New Forest National Park to the East. Sitting on Two Rivers the Avon and the Stour which flow into Christchurch Harbour. The Town’s History, Harbour, Beaches, Nature trails and Reserves make this a popular destination for Tourists.
Today we are going to take you on a small walk around the area of Christchurch that we now walk several times a year. Sometimes we stay in a hotel at Christchurch, normally the Premier Inn, Christchurch West or the Travelodge in the centre of Christchurch. We may set off early from home and just do a long day trip.
Let’s say we have stayed in the centre of Christchurch. We would walk from the hotel down to the Christchurch Priory, then through the gates at the back and towards the car park. Turn right towards the Band stand. Then from here walk along the waters edge towards the Christchurch Rowing Club, and past the Captains Club and Hotel Spa. Walk on toward Tuckton Bridge. Turn left on to the bridge, then first left back to the rivers edge. Follow the river and stay on the foot path until you come to a gate that leads to a path. Go through the gate and carry on to the next gate. Enter the field then take a sharp left and head towards the next footpath.
The next path takes you towards Wick Mead’s, cross the wooden bridge and keep left, you will see a wild life watching platform a head on the left. Climb the platform and have a look at the view. (we will be heading for the beach huts in the distance) Carry on along the path until you reach a gate. To your left is the Hengistbury Outdoor Centre. We need to turn right, then join the road at the end. Look left and you will see Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre. (a good place to have a look around, and learn the history of the area) Look right and you will see The Hikers Café and the Hengistbury Head land Train.
We would normally set off early on our walks, so this is a good stop for a small breakfast. They open from 9.00 am. The Bacon and Egg baps are very good. They serve the normal English Breakfast type dishes in the morning, then switch to a lunch menu. You can sit inside or out, it’s always nice to sit out in the summer and fight the little birds off, they will form a line at your table waiting for leftover food. We have never been for lunch yet,as we are normally a few miles on by then. You could always start a walk from here as you will see a carp park next to the beach and café. This is also a good place to have a toilet stop before the next part of the walk.
You have a choice now, you may want to get the Land Train to Mudeford Sand Bank, it costs about £2.20 for adults and 60 p for children one way. If you are walking, then head for the beach, you will see the footpath which heads away from the café and towards the sea. When you reach the beach, turn left and walk a few hundred yards. You now have your second choice, keep left and walk up to the top of Hengistbury Head and then down the other side towards the beach huts. Choice number three, is to walk on to the beach and head East towards the Groins in the distance.
The Beach Huts
When you reach the start of the beach huts, keep right and carry on walking East. You will finally come to the end of Mudeford Sandbank, after passing lots of lovely holiday beach huts. Some of the huts are for rent, mainly in the summer months. They have small kitchens and small bedrooms so you can sleep in them. They look fun for sure. Look right and you will see the Isle of Wight and the Needles. Follow the waters edge around and you will come to the Black House, across to your right you will see Mudeford Quay across the water (this is our next destination) Carry on along the waters edge in front of the Black House.
Another coffee or not?
Ahead you will see a coffee shop/stop. This has changed over the years, it was a café, then it was taken over and became a posher nicer café that served the most amazing food. (owned by the same people as the Boat House near the bandstand) After a fire in 2018 they have transformed it again into a series of Sea Containers; they are kind of units serving different kind of food. It looks good, its open air with an area that is under cover. This is another chance for a rest, a coffee, a cake if you wish, and they have toilets close by too.
From the café look out for the small wooden pier to your left as you look at the inner harbour of Christchurch. You now have another choice; you can get a ferry back to the Bandstand area of Christchurch (Town Quay) or take the Ferry to Mudeford. We will go to Mudeford. The cost of a single one-way fare on the Mudeford Ferry (from Mudeford Quay to Mudeford Sandbank) is £2.00 Adult 70 p for children. Dogs, cats and parrots FREE. Check the website for running times. In bad weather some crossings are cancelled. The Ferry does not run all year round. It is seasonal and mainly summer. The Ferry Company also arrange special trips and events.
After disembarking on the other side,Head over towards your left and along the harbour wall. You probably will see lots of children fishing. Walk between the pub and the lifeboat station and head towards the road. Keep the water to your left. Continue walking towards the houses at the end. Stay left on the road and join the main road and keep to your left. Stay on the Mudeford Road for about half a mile until you reach Alexander’s Fish and Chips.
You Can have a break here. We normally share haddock and chips from the chippy, it’s a take away. You can either find a bench across the road at the village cricket ground, or you can walk back a few steps towards Argyle Road. (you need to be down this road anyway) Go down this road and have a seat on the harbour wall. The views of Hengistbury Head in the distance are amazing. You can see for miles on a clear day and you can also see how far you have walked too.
After lunch walk along Fisherman’s Bank (on your right looking at the Harbour) and past the houses on the foreshore. You are now heading towards Stanpit Marsh. Join the Stanpit Road and turn left. Walk as far as the Pre School on the Marsh which is on your left (car park in front of school). Turn immediate left and follow the path down the side of the school.
Carry on along this path and stop at the Visitor Centre Stanpit marsh. You can bird watch from here or check out the blackboard list of seasonal bird that are about. The marsh is also home to Horses, Bats, Moles, Otters, Cows, Rabbits and Water voles. Carry on along the path towards the waterfront, you can have a rest here and sit on a bench near the water. Look to your left now and see how far you have travelled, it’s amazing how far you can walk in such a short time. The food on the way helps fuel us up. Carry on along the path to your right along the water front, then head inland towards the road. Join the small road at the end of the path and take a left, this takes you to the Two Rivers Meet Leisure Centre Car park.
Back in Christchurch
Walk towards the entrance of the Christchurch Leisure centre and then past it. Then take a right, and walk up past the BCP Council Services Office. Join the Road and turn left over the Bridge (River Avon) and the second bridge (River Avon). The Avon splits just upstream. It joins together again, just before it meets the River Stour to the South of the bridge.
Coffee break and feet up
You will see people fishing for Trout in the river (seasonal) To your left after the second bridge you will see Christchurch Castle and Norman House. You have a choice here, you can head left along the river, ending up at the bandstand and the Boat House Café for a drink. You can head straight down the road and take your pick of drinking establishments in the town. We normally head for the Loungers bar Arcado Lounge, the coffee is good and they have free newspapers too.
Christchurch Walking Map
Distance 10.9 miles, Time spent moving 3:55 hours, Ascent 112 feet, Descent 115 feet, Average speed (throughout time spent moving) 2.9 mph