A lovely dog-friendly walk with sweeping coastal views and lots of places to stop for refreshments!
Walking is one of my favourite pastimes, especially since having Jack. Motherhood can be quite lonely at times, but when I am out and about I really do feel better and Jack enjoys a change of scenery too.
We are lucky enough to live in Bournemouth, Dorset. With its award-winning beach and dramatic coastline, it really is the perfect place to explore.
One of my favourite walks is from Cafe Riva all the way to Hengistbury Head and back. It’s a long, dog-friendly walk (especially with a pram), but totally worth it if you fancy a good stroll!
I recently did the walk with my friend, Jack and our two dogs. Cafe Riva is a great starting point. It’s situated on the cliff-top (Boscombe Overcliff Drive) and boasts gorgeous panoramic views of the Isle Of Wight across to the Purbecks and Swanage. I suggest meeting here for breakfast (the eggs benedict and a cappuccino is my go-to) so you are fuelled up for the walk! What’s more, it’s free to park so you can take as long as you like and take the walk at your own pace.
From the Cafe take the zig-zag down to the beach and take a left. Then simply follow the beach all the way up to the end of the promenade. You will pass Bistro on the Beach at Southbourne, another lovely place for a pit-stop to enjoy a coffee or cake, while taking in the stunning sea views. There are benches outside, which is perfect if you have a four-legged friend with you.
If you don’t have a pram, when you get to the end of the promenade you can walk along the beach to Hengistbury Head. Otherwise go up the slight slope at the end and follow the path around to the right along the cliff-top. If you have a buggy it can be quite tricky along the first bit because it’s quite sandy. If you have someone with you to help you should be ok and it is a nicer route!
This part of the walk is beautiful. Hengistbury Head has such a dramatic coastline and you will be wanting to stop every few minutes to take a photograph from another angle! This is why the walk can take a while!
When you reach Hengistbury Head you can take a left to The Hikers Cafe (another lovely place to stop for refreshments – they even serve doggy ice-cream), or you can head up the slope to the top of Hengistbury Head. If you have a buggy you may wish to skip the walk up to the top as there are some steps, but if you have the stamina, I would highly recommend as the views from the top are simply wonderful!
Hengistbury Head really is a beautiful, with far reaching views of Christchurch Harbour, Mudeford, the Isle of Wight, Poole Bay and Bournemouth.
We opted for the easy, flat route and so took a left past the Hiker Cafe and The Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre. If you haven’t ever visited Hengistbury Head be sure to go into the visitor as you can learn more about the area’s history, geology and wildlife. There is a little shop here too and toilets and water bowls for your dog!
Follow the path round and you will enjoy lovely views of Christchurch Harbour and Mudeford to your left. Keep going and you will reach the beautiful beach huts at Mudeford Spit. A lovely place to spend the day! There are benches along the way so you can take your time and take it all in.
Keep going and you will pass the Mudeford Ferry on your left. From Mudeford Sandbank you can travel up the river using the vintage boats operated by Bournemouth Boating Services to Christchurch Quay for Christchurch Town Centre, to Wick for Captains Club Hotel and onwards to Tuckton for Tuckton Tea Gardens. So there are lots of places to explore from here if you have the time!
You will then reach the final stop on your walk – The Beach House. It is currently under refurbishment but in the meantime you can enjoy beach festival style food for the summer season including a number of vans serving burgers, pizzas, ice creams and snacks. There’s even a beach bar so you can have a cheeky PIMM’S in the sunshine! We tucked into a delicious goats cheese panini and the dogs rehydryated too. Jack had a great time taking it all in and bobbing up and down to their summer playlist.
When you’re ready you can head back the way you came, or opt for the walk over Hengistbury Head if you want to mix things up a little.
If you aren’t rushing it is probably around a 3 and a half to 4 hour round-trip with stops along the way. You certainly won’t be disappointed with this walk, it’s great for a family day out, time on your own, or catching up with a friend.