Bournemouth Gardens, West Cliff and the Chines
Head straight out of the hotel into Bournemouth’s Lower Gardens and walk through the town centre and continue up through the beautiful central and upper gardens. Explore the Chines and the Westcliff then come back along and the seafront. A great way to get your bearings.
Transport: no transport required – this is a lovely walk for 2 or 3 hours in a circular route.
Southbourne, Hengistbury Head, Mudeford & Christchurch
A superb day trip is to walk from the hotel and walk (east) along the seafront past Boscombe, Southbourne to Hengistbury Head then to Mudeford Beach. Take the little passenger ferry across the entry to Christchurch Harbour to Mudeford Quay (perhaps stop for a crab sandwich at the pub). Continue walking into the beautiful historic town of Christchurch.
Hengistbury Head is a scenic and historic headland. It is a site of significant archeological importance and for many years it has been a site of scientific interest and a major tourist attraction. Hengistbury Head incorporates many different habitats and supports a wide variety wildlife and rare plant species.
Many visitors to Hengistbury Head enjoy hiking and rambling across its natural, yet accessible terrain.
Hengistbury Head forms a natural breakwater protecting a small natural harbour formed in its lee from the prevailing southwesterly wind. A long sand spit has formed trailing off the end of the Head. This sand spit, known as Mudeford spit or Mudeford beach forms the easterly perimeter of Christchurch Harbour.
Without Hengistbury Head it is probable that most of the town of Christchurch and all of Christchurch Harbour would cease to exist. Poole bay and Christchurch bay would merge and become one.
Situated at the confluence of the Rivers Stour and Avon, Christchurch sits beneath the majestic 11th century Priory Church, renowned for its “miraculous beam” and beautiful architecture. As you approach the town centre from Bridge Street, the view of historic Christchurch across the Avon from Town Bridge is breathtaking. The Convent Walk is a tranquil walk that follows the course of the Mill Stream, as it runs parallel to the Avon, from Town Bridge to Place Mill on Christchurch Quay.
The walk was opened to the public in 1911 to commemorate the coronation of King George V, and you can sit by the riverside and watch the ducks and swans which congregate on the water.
Transport: Direct trains between Bournemouth and Christchurch 7 minutes or Hinton Admiral 13 minutes. Frequent buses between Bournemouth town square and Christchurch town centre. One way private transfers can be arranged for groups or smaller parties.
Brockenhurst and the New Forest
The New Forest is a genuine walker’s paradise with many circular and linear routes. All year round there are guided walks where local experts will tell you about the history, geology, wildlife and folklore beneath your feet.
The New Forest is a fantastic place for cycling with miles and miles of traffic free tracks leading you right into the heart of the forest with few hills to worry about.
The forest is a living and working place where ponies and cattle freely graze the land. Deeper in the forest, wild deer browse beneath canopies of mighty oak and beech. There can be few other places in England where the ancient landscape has remained so unchanged. In 1079 when William The Conqueror named the area his ‘new hunting forest’, little could he imagine that nearly 1000 years later his ‘Nova Foresta’ would still retain its mystery and romance.
The New Forest is perfect for casual walking rambling and cycling. Routes are well marked and there are over 100 miles of cycle tracks. The scenery is amazing across heathland, ancient woodlands, wetlands and grassy plains.
Transport: Direct train Bournemouth to Brockenhurst (20 minutes). Bus service to Burley, Ringwood and Brockenhurst. Cycling tracks and walking routes are all easily accessible from Brockenhurst.
A ‘green’ taxi service and New Forest tour bus is also available. Horse riding can also be arranged. Seeing the forest from the back of a horse is an excellent way to see the forest’s mature woods, shady streams, dappled glades and beautiful open heathland.
An attractive and varied walk that takes you out of the New Forest is to walk from Brockenhurst to Lymington River. Enjoy walking through farmland, ancient woodland and along the riverbank at Lymington with views over to the Isle of Wight.
Transport: return to Bournemouth from Lymington by train via Brockenhurst (40 minutes). One way private transfers can be arranged for groups or smaller parties.
Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door
Lulworth Cove is an amazing village and the area around it is some of the most outstanding in Britain, possibly the world. Lulworth Cove has recently been placed into the World Heritage Jurassic Coastline, this will hopefully sustain and preserve the areas outstanding beauty for years to come. Lulworth Cove itself is a beautiful shell shaped cove, formed over millions of years.
Durdle Door is a world famous geological wonder, with its massive rock arch, set right on the Jurassic Coast between Swanage and Weymouth, just along the coast path from Lulworth Cove – it is a short but strenuous walk from Lulworth Cove and it is absolutely beautiful.
The famous Fossil Forest, here lies the remains of the growths that formed around tree stumps from about 135 million years ago.
Further along the coast there are the ripple marks of an ancient beach. Visiting the fossils requires a small hike of only a few hundred feet with an elevation gain of about 50 feet. To access the fossils you need to pass through the Lulworth army range gates.
Transport: Quite a difficult place to get to on public transport – but it is well worth it! Take the X53 Jurassic Coast bus (or the train) Bournemouth to Wool then bus 103 to Lulworth Cove. Private transfers can be arranged for groups or smaller parties.
Sandbanks, Shell Bay, Studland, Old Harry’s Rock
Walk from the hotel and along the seafront (west) to Sandbanks then travel across the mouth of Poole Harbour on the Sandbanks Ferry (as a foot passenger or en-route on the 150 bus). Stop at Shell Bay the National Trust beach at Studland for spectacular views across Studland Bay and continue your walk along miles of glorious sandy beaches.
The lovely village of Studland is famous for its National Nature Reserve and beautiful natural bay. The village has an interesting Norman church with breathtaking views across the bay.
Perhaps take a lunch stop at the Bankes Arms and then on to Ballard Down and Old Harrys Rock. Walk over the ridgeways and fields with cliff-top views across Swanage Bay into Swanage town. From the ferry to Ballard Down is roughly 3 miles.
Cycling is permitted across the bridleways of the Purbeck Estate. Parking at Shell Bay (free to National Trust members).
Transport: Wilts & Dorset 150 Bournemouth–Swanage to Shell Bay & Studland. Also 152 Poole–Sandbanks; Yellow Buses 12 Bournemouth–Sandbanks, summer only then vehicle ferry from Sandbanks to Shell Bay. One way private transfers can be arranged for groups or smaller parties.
Corfe Castle, Swanage with a trip on the steam train, Wareham
The gentle shelving beach at Swanage, with its Victorian pier and fabulous views across to the Needles on the Isle of Wight, is hugely popular with families. From Swanage take the Swanage Steam Railway to Corfe Castle.
Tranport: Wilts & Dorset 150 Burnemouth-Swanage and Steam Railway between Swanage and Corfe Castle. 142 bus between Corfe Castle and Wareham. Direct trains between Wareham and Bournemouth 25 mins. X53 Jurassic Coast bus between Wareham and Bournemouth. A direct train between Wareham and Bournemouth takes 25 minutes (Wool 28 minutes). One way private transfers can be arranged for groups or smaller parties.
Cyclists arriving in Wareham can use the Purbeck Cycleway, linking into a variety of circular rides through spectacular scenery, or cycle to Norden to board the Swanage Steam Railway to complete the journey to the coast.
Sandbanks, Poole Harbour, Brownsea Island
Poole Harbour is the second largest harbour in the world after Sydney, Australia. The Quay is a hive of activity all year round with a huge array of fishing boats, yachts, powerboats and pleasure cruisers. Poole Harbour is a natural harbour and its extensive sheltered waters make it popular for recreational sailing and water sports.
From Poole Harbour you can get a ferry over to Brownsea island – a peaceful island of woodland and heath with a wide variety of wildlife, famous for being the birthplace of Scouting and Guiding. You can enjoy fine walks and spectacular views of Poole Harbour. Brownsea is a haven for wildlife with friendly red squirrels, peacocks and deer.
From Poole Harbour you can return to Bournemouth by boat seeing the spectacular World Heritage Coast from the sea.
Transport: take the Wilts & Dorset 150 bus Swanage-Bournemouth (alight Sandbanks; 152 Poole-Sandbanks (June to Sept only); also buses from surrounding area to Poole Bridge. Half-hourly boat service from Poole Quay also from Sandbanks, Bournemouth and Swanage. On foot or by bicycle from Shell Bay. One way private transfers can be arranged for groups or smaller parties.
Dorchester – Thomas Hardy Country ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’
Dorchester is a historic market town with its roots in Roman times; however it is most famously associated with Thomas Hardy. With its elegant 18th century houses, broad walks and bustling shopping streets, as the county town of Dorset, Dorchester is still very much the ‘Casterbridge’ of Thomas Hardy’s novels.
In Dorchester history is all around you. The spectacular hill-fort of Maiden Castle dates back 4000 years and is the largest in Europe and the Roman Town House is the finest example of its kind in Britain.
To explore this historic town you can choose from 4 walks:
- Roman Town Walk
- Gallows Walk
- Town & River Walk
- Thomas Hardy Walk
Transport: Direct train from Bournemouth to Dorchester is 42 minutes. Private transfers can be arranged.
If you have your own transport and wish to explore further afield without the need for public transport we recommend:
- Abbotsbury – this very old village, settled amongst the hills behind the great Chesil Bank, is world famous for its swannery.
- Portland – is an explorer’s island with beautiful scenery and a mysterious quality of isolation, joined only to the mainland by Chesil Beach.
- Kimmeridge – boasts some of the most accessible marine wildlife in Dorset – an extended low tide make it a perfect place for rock-pooling. The Marine Centre offers rock-pool rambles. Kimmeridge Bay offers an energetic walk with spectacular cliff-top views.
- Cerne Abbas – in the very heart of rural Dorset
- Seatown – an old Dorset village one of England’s top fossil collecting sites. Take a single track through through fields down to the Lulworth Cove area.
- Weymouth – has so much to offer every visitor. Its fame as a seaside resort dates back over 200 years when King George III holidayed here.
Transport: Direct train Bournemouth – Weymouth is approx. 54 minutes.