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Hengistbury Head: A Great British Day Out in Dorset

Hengistbury Head: A Great British Day Out in Dorset

UK Days Out: Great Dorset Days Out 

Hengistbury Head is the perfect place to spend a day out on the beach in Dorset. The fabulous nature reserve juts out between the seaside towns of Bournemouth and Mudeford and is situated to the south of Christchurch Harbour.

Hengistbury Head offers the visitor a lovely sandy beach, numerous clifftop and harbour-side walks and fantastic views out over to the Isle of White and the New Forest.

Hengistbury Head is a great place to visit for days out in Dorset for adults and children alike, and there are so many quirky places to stay that you may decide to stay a bit longer than just one day!

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Pay and Display parking is plentiful, and a visitor centre and cafe are open for you to learn about the history of Hengistbury Head and, of course, to start or finish your day with a coffee, cake or ice cream. Bring your own picnic, beach deck chairs and umbrella and prepare for a relaxing day at the beach after you have explored the headland.

Hengistbury Headland and Beach

Hengistbury Head Walk

If you are feeling energetic, then walk the 3.7-mile loop of Hengistbury Head which can be completed in one and a half hours. The walk will cover a few different environments, which means a lot of opportunities for wildlife spotting, which is perfect for nature lovers. There are several ponds on the route so keep an ear out for the rare Natterjack Toad. From May to July, you can hear them calling to each other after dusk, often from over a mile away!

Birdwatchers will find this area the perfect spot to observe over 300 different species, including kestrels and skylarks.

Loop Walk around Hengistbury Head

History of Hengistbury Head

Hengistbury Head is named as an ancient monument, as it is believed that an Upper Paleolithic settlement is underneath it, dating back to the stone age. In British law, “an ancient monument is an early historical structure or monument worthy of preservation and study due to archaeological or heritage interest” [source: Wikipedia]. Hengistbury Head is one of England’s most important Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Cliff Walk at Hengistbury Head

The Famous Beach Huts of Mudeford Spit

Make sure to visit the sandbank of Mudeford Spit, accessed via Hengistbury Head. The famous painted Hengistbury Head beach huts are among the country’s most sought-after beachside huts. The average price for a beach hut here is £300k, and that’s with no internal toilet or running water (washing facilities are located in a block nearby). Complete madness, maybe, but plenty of buyers are eager to own one of the most desirable beach huts in the UK.

If you want to experience a stay in one of the beach huts, then many of them can be rented and offer wonderful views out to sea and across the harbour.

From here, you can also catch the Mudeford Ferry, a small passenger ferry that operates between Mudeford Spit and the quay on the other side of the entrance to Christchurch Harbour.

If you don’t want to walk to Mudeford Spit, then you can take the land train that departs from Henigstbury Head car park.

Mudeford Beach Huts

Frequently Asked Questions

How to get to Hengistbury Head

By Car:

Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre, Hengistbury Head Nature Reserve,

Bournemouth, Dorset BH6 4EW

By Train:

Christchurch is the nearest train station to Hengistbury Head, just over a mile away, with direct routes from London Waterloo taking just under two hours. Then you can take the bus or ferry, see details here.

By Coach:

From London to Bournemouth via National Express Coach will take just under 3 hours.

By Bus:

The Bournemouth Hop-On-Hop-Off Tourist Bus will stop at both Christchurch and Hengistbury Head.

The Best Accommodation in Dorset near Hengistbury Head

Christchurch Accommodation

Mudeford Accommodation

Bournemouth Accommodation

Things to Do in Dorset near Hengistbury Head

The town of Christchurch, with its medieval church and 11th-century priory ruins, sits alongside a lovely harbour where boat trips will take you along the River Stour to view the surrounding area. If, like me, you fancy having a go at boating yourself, then hire one for an hour from Quay Leisure Boat Hire in the harbour. I had a fabulous time meandering along the river and all for only £30, a bargain for such an enjoyable experience.

Christchurch Abbey

In Christchurch, you will also find Tuckton Tea Gardens, a traditional cosy café set in beautiful gardens beside the River Stour. With stunning views down the river Stour and to Christchurch Priory, sit back and watch the boats go by while enjoying afternoon tea, light lunches or locally made ice cream. A putting green and crazy golf course will keep all the family amused.

view of the river in Christchurch

Bournemouth Beach is one of Britain’s best beaches. It is the main attraction in the Dorset area with seven miles of golden sands with blue-flag status for safety and cleanliness.

A view of the sandy beach leading to the sea

If you prefer to venture slightly further afield, then a visit to the New Forest National Park is my recommendation. In just 40 minutes by car, you will be able to experience the beauty of this area with its quintessential English villages and, of course, the New Forest Ponies who reside here.

Ponies grazing in the New Forest


Saturday 8th of August 2020

Well this is seriously enticing! Great photos and info. We've been to the New Forest years ago and I'd go back to that area now just to see Bournemouth Beach! I had no idea England had beaches like that. And I love the beach huts.


Friday 7th of August 2020

What a beautiful place. I love those beach huts look similar to ours on the Peninsula. We are unable to rent ours, they are privately owned, some have power but your not allowed to stay overnight. They can fetch over $100,000 Aus if sold. The sandy toes how interesting.