Skip to Content

Hengistbury Head: A Great Day Out in Dorset

Hengistbury Head: A Great Day Out in Dorset

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

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

It 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!

This travel guide may contain affiliate links – For more information, please read my disclaimer and privacy policy.

Views from Hengistbury Head of Mudeford Spit.
natural steps leading up a small hill on the Hengistbury Head walk.

Relax on Hengistbury Head Beach

Pay-and-display parking is plentiful and adjacent to the Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre. The Hiker Café is next door and a great place 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 beach day after exploring the headland.

Hengistbury Head Beach and headland.

Enjoy The Hengistbury Head Walk

If you are feeling energetic, walk the 3.7-mile loop of Hengistbury Head, which can be completed in one and a half hours.

The walk will cover several different environments, including the Double Dykes, which means many opportunities for wildlife spotting, perfect for nature lovers.

Several ponds are en 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 local nature spot to observe over 300 species, including kestrels and skylarks.

Loop Walk around Hengistbury Head

Facts About Hengistbury Head

Hengistbury Head is named as an ancient monument, as an Upper Paleolithic settlement dating back to the Iron Age is believed to be underneath it. For this reason it is one of England’s most important Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Monument made from stone 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 these Dorset beach huts, you can rent a beach hut and enjoy the pretty views out to sea and across the harbour.

During the summer months, if you don’t want to walk to Mudeford Spit, you can take the Mudeford land train from Henigstbury Head car park.

From here, you can catch the Mudeford Ferry. It’s a small passenger ferry that sails between Mudeford Spit and the quay on the other side of the entrance to Christchurch Harbour. Once in Christchurch, you’ll find plenty to do, from visiting the abbey to taking a pleasure boat along the river.

Mudeford Beach Huts at Hengistbury Head.
A sign on the beach saying sandy toes with four brushes hanging on small hooks on Hengistbury Head Beach.

Getting to Hengistbury Head Nature Reserve

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. Direct routes from London Waterloo take just under two hours. Then, you can take the bus or ferry from Christchurch to Hengistbury Head.

By Coach:

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

By Bus:

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

Best Accommodation in Dorset near Hengistbury Head

Christchurch Accommodation

Mudeford Accommodation

Bournemouth Accommodation

Best Things to Do in Dorset near Hengistbury Head

Christchurch’s medieval church and 11th-century priory ruins sit alongside a lovely harbour, where boat trips will take you along the River Stour to view the surrounding area.

If you fancy trying boating, hire one for an hour from Quay Leisure Boat Hire in the harbour.

I had a fabulous time meandering along the river 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 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 when visiting Bournemouth, and with seven miles of golden sands and blue-flag status for safety and cleanliness, it’s not to see why!

A view of Bournmouth beach.

If you prefer to venture further afield, I recommend visiting the New Forest National Park.

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.

Please Pin for Future Travel to Dorset

Do you need to arrange travel insurance, car hire or accommodation? Please check out my resources page to help you plan your trip.


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.