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 find out 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 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, 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.
History of Hengistbury Head
Hengistbury Head is named as an ancient monument, as it is believed that there is an Upper Paleolithic settlement 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 the most important Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in England.
The Famous Beach Huts of Mudeford Spit
Make sure to visit the sandbank of Mudeford Spit, accessed via Hengistbury Head. With the famous painted Hengistbury Head beach huts on it, these are among the most sought-after beachside huts in the country. 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 which 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to get to Hengistbury Head
Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre, Hengistbury Head Nature Reserve,
Bournemouth, Dorset BH6 4EW
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.
From London to Bournemouth via National Express Coach will take just under 3 hours.
The Bournemouth Hop-On-Hop-Off Tourist Bus will stop at both Christchurch and Hengistbury Head.
The Best Accommodation in Dorset near to Hengistbury Head
Things to Do in Dorset near to 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 for a view of 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.
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.
Bournemouth Beach the main attraction in the Dorset area with seven miles of golden sands with blue-flag status for safety and cleanliness.
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.