Pay and display car parking £1.90 x 2 hours until 31 March
From 1 April – £2.20 per hour
Walk: one-and-a-half hours. Approx 7,000 steps
Part of the route is suitable for wheelchairs with level tarmac paths
From the car park we walked towards the beach over a lowland grassy area, which is perfect for kite flying. Without doubt the views across the sea are glorious and awe inspiring. There is a tarmac path that also leads to the beach and we joined this route passing the Double Dykes on our left where Cotswold lions were grazing – oddly these are sheep.
The Double Dykes consist of a ramp and ditch built long ago to defend the Iron Age settlement that once existed on Hengisbury Head.
We continued towards the highest point, but before reaching the peak we took in views of Christchurch Priory, then branched off to the left near the Bournemouth stone (you can’t miss it). This led us down a narrow mud path, which is unsuitable for wheelchairs and through ancient woodland, past dark ponds. The trees were full of birds and we could hear chiff chaff and saw blue tits, long tailed tits, robins, blackbirds and several little birds we couldn’t identify. There was a beautifully carved bench in memory of Fred and Betty Finch where you can rest.
We continued on to Quarry Pond, which we thought was more like a small lake. Here there was a choice of directions. We decided to work our way across the headland following the path that we knew would take us to the marsh. There was a steep crevasse, and the route was challenging. On reaching the path that borders Mudeford Sandspit lagoon and saltmarsh, there were more spectacular views – this time towards the beach huts in one direction and across Stanpit Marsh and Christchurch Priory in the other. There were wading birds including redshanks and various ducks and raptors, as well as, unexpectedly, a pheasant.
After absorbing the views, we followed this level path, which is virtually traffic-free but watch out for bicycles, until we reached the visitor centre. From there it’s a short hop to the café, which always seems to be in the sun when we visit. It is situated next to the car park.
This beautiful walk offers a variety of habitats and if you have boundless energy, you can walk along Hengistbury Head’s stony shoreline around the headland to the beach huts then back along Sandspit lagoon to the visitor centre.
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