Hengistbury Head

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Hengistbury Head has witnessed 11,000 years of human history, including a Stone Age camp on Warren Hill, an Iron Age port and 18th Century quarrying. Nowadays it is a popular tourist spot with a visitor centre and Local Nature Reserve, which is home to a variety of birds, insects and small mammals.

This walk starts at the Land Train terminus. A track leads to the coast, running parallel to the four-metre-high Double Dikes. Interpretive signs summarise the history of the dikes. Upon reaching the coast, follow a good path towards Hengistbury Head, which takes in a short section of the Severn Valley Way. Along the way, you pass Barn Field, an area of lowland acid grassland where you may hear skylarks in summer. The path leads gently uphill, passing a wildlife pond on the right, before reaching the triangulation pillar, toposcope and coastguard lookout station on Warren Hill. There are good views of Christchurch Harbour and Christchurch Priory. In clear weather, the Purbecks can be seen across Poole Bay, with Hurst Castle, the Needles and the Isle of Wight lying to the south-east.

The walk continues along a clifftop track to reach the southern tip of Hengistbury Head before descending to the beach. Rows of beach huts line Sandspit. You pass the Land Train terminus, the pontoon for the ferry boat to Mudeford Quay and the Beach House Café as you head towards Avon Run. The run marks where the River Avon enters the sea from Christchurch Harbour. Although it is only about thirty metres wide, do not be tempted to enter the water, as there are strong currents. For a longer day, it is possible to combine this walk with a ferry-boat trip, either to visit Mudeford or the public house across the run at Little Haven. Be sure to check the return times!

After retracing your route along Sandspit, walk along the road and pass Holloway's Dock on your right. This is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The walk includes a short, optional detour to the wildlife pond in the quarry. It was created in 1976 by flooding a quarry where iron ore was mined from 1848 to 1874. The final section of the walk is along a flat tarmac road. It affords views of Christchurch Priory rising above the reedbeds that surround the edge of Christchurch Harbour. Pass Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre before reaching The Hiker Café and toilets at the end of the walk.

England - South West England - Dorset - Coast


Birds, Great Views, Sea, Toilets, Wildlife
10/4/2011 - Simon Taylor

Lovely short walk in both winter and summer.

7/29/2007 - Barry Hynes

A lovely part of the world Peter. I don't think you need the directions but thank you for bringing this to our attention. This is a great place to walk. The views from the top are wonderful.

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