In the centre of England’s south coast with both beach and countryside, you’ll never be short for walks in Bournemouth and its surroundings. The town is sprawling and famous for its sandy beach, pier and surfing reef, making seaside hikes particularly lovely. There’s much more to explore here than just the coastline though.
A low-lying area, there aren’t any hilly hikes in Bournemouth so you can adventure for longer without feeling too tired. The English Channel borders the town to the south while the River Stour flows from the north west to the south east, providing you with some excellent trails along its gorgeous banks. Heathland, forests and the spit at Hengistbury Head combine to make this busy settlement a varied place to explore on foot.
Wherever you walk here, you’re never very far from a cafe, a pub or an ice cream outlet; your main challenge is to choose between them. Ready to start adventuring? Pick a Tour and off you go.
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From rivers to the sea
Given that it’s lent its name to the town, the River Bourne isn’t as grand as you might expect. It’s actually a very small stream only 4.7 miles (7.5 km) long. Of all the walks in Bournemouth, following its namesake stream is one not oft thought of, although it’s certainly possible. For a river adventure that’ll really impress, head to the River Stour instead. This marvellous river is a natural boundary from Wimborne to the north and flows around the north and eastern edges of Bournemouth.
You can join the Stour from anywhere and follow the trails alongside it to discover historic mills, nature reserves and quaint villages just a stone’s throw from the hubbub of the town. Weeping willows, kingfishers and reeds make up a charming picture.
Cliffs and coast
Some of the best hiking trails around Bournemouth take in its lengthy seafront. Blessed with abundant sand, you can walk the entire length of the town and considerably further, without leaving the beach. The cliffs along here are frequently broken by streams, creating gorges called chines, which are frequently wooded with footpaths.
When hiking from Bournemouth’s centre, you can walk west along the beach to see Alum, Branksome and Canford Cliffs Chines. If you’re up for a longer adventure, you can walk east all the way along the coastline to Hengistbury Head. This spit is a nature reserve and creates a natural barrier with Christchurch Harbour in its crook.
Wildlife on the south coast
There have been plenty of sightings of dolphins close to Bournemouth Beach, mostly spotted from the pier, which gives you the opportunity to get a little further out to sea. They are sometimes seen from Hengistbury Head as well.
When it comes to birds, Hengistbury Head is a fantastic place to spot herons, ring plover, kestrel and skylark amongst hundreds of others. The River Stour is another great place for birdwatching, with kingfishers, herons and little egrets. If you’re very lucky, you might catch sight of one of the local otters on the river as well.
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