Walk 15: Hengistbury Head Circular Walk: Life’s a beach!

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 3.7 miles ( 5.95 km )

Time to walk: About 1.5 hours, although, if the weather’s nice & you like beaches, we’d suggest it’s an excellent place to spend a whole day!

Difficulty: Some short inclines but nothing difficult. All on hard paths, or beach if, like us, you fancy a paddle!

Parking: Public car park at the Hengistbury Head Car Park. Not cheap so bring plenty of coins

Public toilets: At the cafe in the car park & the beach restaurant on the ‘Spit’

Map of the route: @ Walkingworld

If you’re down in the Bournemouth or Christchurch area on a bright fine day we can’t recommend this short walk enough. We walked it about 5pm on a barmy July 2014 evening & it took us about 4 hours so that’ll give you a clue that 3.7 miles around here, if it’s warm, isn’t to be rushed!

It’s an area of significant scientific interest & outstanding beauty with amazing beaches so, if the weather’s good, it’s a great place to combine this walk with a laze on the beach. There’s also a fabulous restaurant en route which is very reasonable given its location

So what can we tell you about Hengistbury Head…well 12,500 years of human history can be traced back to this area, including Stone Age Camps, an Iron Age Port & 18th century quarrying

On a clear day, as it was today, there are amazing views back to Poole Bay, The Needles on the Isle of Wight & Christchurch Harbour & Priory

Here’s a view of our walk from the air…

Look amazing doesn’t it? So what are we waiting for…

Let’s Walk!!

1. Our walk starts at the Hiker Cafe in the car park…

There’s loos here if you need them. Head through the bollards past the Cafe & straight on past the Land Train terminus (it takes you down to the Spit we’ll visit later)…

Love it!

Love it!

Take the right hand path just before the Double Dykes…

…but it’s worth a little wander just to have a look at the information boards about these ancient earthworks

The Double Dykes date back to 700 BC & consist of an inner bank 3 metres high & a ditch 3.5 metres deep. There was also an outer dyke 6 metres wide & 2 metres deep. These Dykes turned Hengistbury Head into a fortress

2. If you’ve had a look at the notice board retrace your steps towards the Cafe & take the path heading south towards the sea…

There's the sea...

There’s the sea…

3. At the end turn left & follow the path that heads upwards towards Hengistbury Head itself – it could be though that you fancy a stop & a paddle already…

The view back towards Bournemouth & Poole...

The view back towards Bournemouth & Poole…

The view towards the Head where our path takes us…fancy a sit on the beach already?

The view towards the Head where our path takes us…fancy a sit on the beach already? That’s the Isle of Wight in the distance

4. As you start to ascend the Head there’s already views on the left across Christchurch Harbour &, the higher you climb, the better they’ll get…

The area above on the left is known as Barn Field & is an important nature reserve

5. The path continues to head steadily upwards…

…& eventually on the right you’ll come to some small ponds which are also of importance…

This area is home to the extremely rare Natterjack Toad. It’s the only European amphibian that runs to catch its prey & the male’s call can be heard over 1 mile away. Here’s a picture of one (not taken by us!!)

6. The hill you’re now on is called Warren Hill. There’s evidence of tribal settlements here going back some 12,500 years…

…as you near the top the ground becomes sandier…

…& the views across the estuary become even better!

You also get our first view of Mudeford Sandspit which we’ll have a closer look at in a bit…

7. Finally you’ll reach the top & it’s well worth pausing a while to take in the views all around, especially the one back towards Christchurch…

As well as the ‘trig point’ on the top there’s also a great ‘toposcope’ showing the direction & distance of things that can be seen from that point…

8. The path off the Hill lies in the direction of the coastguard lookout station…

…&, if the bench on the left is free grab it to stop & take in the views…

There’s the beach-huts on the Spit

9. The path continues down the hill to a crossroads where you need to turn right & follow it along the edge of the cliff. In the distance is the Isle of Wight & The Needles

On the left’s the old ironstone quarry…

There lots of wildflowers in the heather along here. We found lots of wild honeysuckle…

10. The path follows a route round the tip of Hengistbury Head – again there’s great views across to The Isle of Wight…

The path's easy to follow...

The path’s easy to follow…

…& eventually it bears left with more views over The Spit…

Our first proper view of some of England's most expensive beach huts

Our first proper view of some of England’s most expensive beach huts

11. With the view above look out for the steps leading down to The Spit – it’s time to take a closer look at this beach hut community…

…so at the bottom of the steps bear left & pick up the broad path below…

…following it until it reaches a narrow lane

12. Turning right now head down to the beach & those amazing huts…

Follow them!!

Follow them!!

…but first on the left is an inlet wetland known as Mudeford Sandspit Lagoon & Holloway’s Dock…

13. Round the corner follow the dusty beach road along the huts…

…have a look at this link which takes you to the association & have a look at the ones that are for sale & for rent. Would you pay £150,000 for a wooden hut?

14. All kinds of life are along here so keep the eyes & ears open as we pass the train terminus…

…& the ferry taking people back across the inlet…

15. These lucky beach hut people have a view across the water to Christchurch on one side & a beach looking at the Isle of Wight on the other…

16. If you’re feeling hungry there’s a really nice restaurant on The Spit called The Beach House – bet you’ve got to book ahead though!

Here’s a quick couple of views on the other side of The Spit…

17. We would have liked to walk right to the end of The Spit, but our parking ticket was running out (be careful you allow enough time) so it was time to head back…

The return path lies back along the way you came to pick up the hard track lane & continue with the Lagoon on the right…

That's our path across the other side of The Lagoon

That’s our path across the other side of The Lagoon

Be carful of the bikes...

Be careful of the bikes…

The view back across the Lagoon to the huts is pretty good

The view back across the Lagoon to the huts is pretty good

18. This is the road that the train follows so it’s pretty easy. It passes through some woods with great tree formations…

…& eventually, when the woods end, has a view across to Christchurch again…

…where you head up the hill back to the car park once more…

Nice views across the marsh to our right

Nice views across the marsh to our right

So…that’s the end of our second short walk in the Poole / Bournemouth area & what a cracker it is!

Having spoken to several people along the way they said we’d picked a perfect evening to do this walk & reassured us it gets pretty rough & windy in the winter – to us that’s a treat as the sea would be angry & wild

Anyway…in our opinion this is a fantastic place to explore at anytime of the year

Now about one of those beach huts…where’s that piggy bank?

Go Walk!

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s