Naturist / Nudist Beaches in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland

Hengistbury Head Dorset

nuff-beach
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Sandy beach below a low cliff on a headland south of Chichester Harbour. Seems abandoned by naturists.

No longer used by naturists

[Jul-21] Seems abandoned by naturists, maybe as the nearby car parks, and popular harbour ferry services, makes the area too popular.

About as far east of Bournemouth pier as Studland is south-west, Hengistbury Head provides a rather different option for naturist seaside enjoyment. The Head itself is a magnificent rock outcrop, with prehistoric and Saxon settlements on its top - sadly being lost as erosion eats back the coastline and cliff edge. A stroll up and over the cliff is strongly recommended, although this is emphatically textile territory..

Getting There

Satnav: BH6 4EL, OS Map Ref. SZ172907 - SZ176906

To get to the beach, aim for first for Poole (from west) or Bournemouth (from north or east) then go for "Southbourne". The exception is that if you travel by stopping train you should get off at Christchurch station. Buses from Poole, Christchurch and Bournemouth will take you to Southbourne. Try to get one which goes to or via Hengistbury Head, or right to the end of Southbourne prom - otherwise it's quite a walk from central Southbourne.

There are several carparks at the base of Hengistbury Head (one used to be called "Golf Course", another "Beach East", but these things change!). Parking on the road isn't really an option. Most roads are double-yellow lined, or have parking restricted to residents and other permit holders (no information available on disabled parking - sorry). Car parking is well signed from the outskirts of Southbourne. It's not cheap, although out of season there are sometimes bargains available - I've parked free a couple of times. Once within sight of the Hengistbury Head visitor centre (with its shops, cafe and toilets) you are also as far east as you can go and still get down onto the beach. Ahead of you is the usual naturist's trek - perhaps half a mile - before you arrive in the costumes-optional zone. When you find an area of low, smoothed rocks above the high-tide level and perhaps ten or twenty metres out from the cliff-face, you are definitely OK to strip. Although the western "boundary" occurs a bit earlier, if you don't know the beach, or can't see any other nuddies, it's best to go as far as the rocks for peace of mind. I would not recommend the walk for someone with difficulties or in a wheelchair - a steep slope to get onto the beach at the eastern end of the prom, plus soft sand and/or shingle as the main surface on the trek eastwards along the beach. .

Description

Despite the proximity to populous and popular Bournemouth, Boscombe and Southbourne, the beach below the Head is relatively deserted. Your nearest neighbour could easily be 100m away. But that doesn't mean you'll see few people. Textiles by the score will be passing to and fro as they stroll to the short concrete pier with its beacon tower on the end, or all the way round to the entrance to Christchurch harbour and the foot ferry across to Mudeford. Some also do circular walks over the Head and back along the beach or vice-versa. Depending on the state of the tide, some of these textiles may be wandering a little close for some naturist's fully-relaxed peace of mind.

On the few occasions I've been there, the predominant nude population has been single men. Unlike Southbourne and points west, Hengistbury Head beach is not pure sand. There are very low, wide, ridges of fine shingle/shell which cause the waves to provide fine background music.

The currents and relatively heavy surf mean that bathing isn't entirely safe for weaker swimmers and small children, although it shelves consistently but not too quickly to swimming depth.

Other things: no shade, no rock pools, no nearby toilets or showers or ice-cream stalls. But I find the low rocks very comfortable as seating, I love the sounds, and the views are great. To the west, there's the whole sweep of Poole Bay, eastwards is the Isle of Wight and behind you is the towering cliff with a variety of wildlife. Take your binoculars to observe the birdlife or the variety of boats passing both close and far.

Map

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Photos

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Nearby Photos

These photos, which have been tagged as 'safe', were all taken nearby.

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Guidebooks