Exploring Christchurch and Hengistbury Head

15 November 2018

Hengistbury Head Beach

When it comes to great walks and some of the most beautifully varied scenery in the country, Dorset always delivers. Sandwiched between the sea shore and the New Forest, there’s plenty of fantastic landscapes to explore, not to mention the towns and suburbs that embody the ideal marriage between the traditional and contemporary. We’re going to take you on a tour of the Christchurch and Hengistbury Head area, and all the things you can see and do.

History on the estuary

With its riverside walks, priory and scenic harbour, Christchurch is the ideal day out to soak up the serenity and experience the historic attractions. This stunning town sits comfortably where the rivers Avon and Stour meet and was used as an important trading post in centuries gone by. Having transformed a few times from a hotbed of lucrative trading, to fortified precautions during the Second World War and a popular shopping town today, it’s heritage, castle ruins, natural landscape and important buildings have made Christchurch a remarkable, yet unspoilt, site for visitors.

A trip to the priory

Evening light at Christchurch Priory, Dorset

The priory church, over 900 years old, sits close to the centre of Christchurch and has absolutely stunning architectural features. A wander round this beautiful building has such a calming effect and as it’s lived through so many popular design periods, you’ll be able to keep an eye out for different features that have enhanced the priory over time.

Once you’ve finished your eager exploration, pop across to the Cloisters Café Bar. Opened in 2014, you’ll be able to taste some local Dorset grub, as well as helping to support the upkeep and conservation of the priory for future generations.

Seas the day!

Swans in Mudeford Harbour

A short trip round to the stunning Christchurch Harbour will see you pass by Mudeford Quay where you’ll be able to catch exquisite views of the sea, as well as Christchurch town itself. If you’re heart lies with the water then you might want to use this opportunity to sail, windsurf or even watch some of the dinghy competitions that happen during the year.

Beach huts along Mudeford Sandbank.

It’s here that you’ll also be able to browse the spectacular beach huts that are nothing like you’ve ever seen. Far from the small shacks you might imagine, these are luxurious, beautiful and eye-wateringly expensive huts that are well worth having a look at. Hope on the land train at the Hengistbury Head visitor centre and take it all in!

Hiker Cafe and the land train

Diverse habitats and plenty of wildlife

Close to Mudeford and Christchurch you’ll find the scrub, woodland, wetland and craggy coastline of Hengistbury Head. Before you get started with your exploration it’s worth having a spot of tea and cake at the café that sits conveniently close to the car park. From there you can wander across the grassland before climbing the gently slope of Warren Hill.

Walking towards Hengistbury Head

This area of archaeological importance has seen discoveries of artefacts dating back over 10,000 years, so be sure to keep an eye out if you’re pottering along. When you reach the top of the hill, not only will you be met with exceptional views of Christchurch Harbour and the surrounding areas, but you’ll also be met with stretches of stunning heather. Home to skylarks, meadow pipit, violet ground beetle and the cuckoo bee, you might also be able to catch a glimpse of the common lizard too as you traverse the wonderful landscape.

With so much to see and do you might need a couple of takes to enjoy everything this celebrated area has to offer.

Are you a dog owner staying at Shamba? Read our blog on taking your dog for a walk in Christchurch or Hengistbury Head.