The section along the prom at the start is quite long, and tiring on the feet after a while, so some suggestions.
Walk 74a) Bournemouth to Barton-on-Sea (via shortcut)
Start at Bournemouth, but walk directly to the sea front, missing out the town centre and pier. Left out of the station, cross the road, first left, then right due south to the sea. This saves 2 km for a total of 10 miles ( 16 km )
Walk 74b) Boscombe Pier to Barton-on-Sea
Start at Bournemouth, but catch a bus to Boscombe Pier, save 4 km for a total of about 8 miles ( 14 km )
Walk 74c) Pokesdown to Barton-on-Sea
Start at Pokesdown Station (1 stop before Bournemouth), head south about 1.2 km to the sea, saving about 4.5 km
Walk 74d) Starting at Christchurch
You can start this walk at Christchurch station, giving you rapid access to the lovely wild scenery of Christchurch Harbour and Hengistbury Head. Full details are given in the PDF link at the top of the page. Using these directions you can:
- Do a circular walk from Christchurch to Hengistbury Head and Mudeford Spit - 7.7km (4.8 miles).
- Walk from Christchurch to Barton-on-Sea - 10.8km (6.7 miles)
- Walk from Christchurch to Bournemouth - 12.4km (7.7 miles)
Walk 74e) Barton-on-Sea to Christchurch or Bournemouth
You can reverse the walk by taking the train to New Milton, and then the X1 bus (go up station approach to the road: turn right and then right again into Westfield Road and the bus stop is on the left: you want the bus going to Bournemouth). This passes the Beachcomber Cafe in 6 minutes, but better (to avoid the landslip) is to stay on the bus until it gets to the Naish Holiday Village stop in another 7 minutes. Getting off the bus here and carry on down the hill on the road for a short distance, then take the wooded path to the left after the bridge over the river. This is Chewton Bunny (the name of the valley) and takes you in 1km down to the seafront.
You then simply turn right and follow the seafront path. In just over 1km it is possible to take a path up the cliff to Highcliffe Castle (tea room accessible without paying for the site). Returning to (or staying on) the coast, there are convenient lunch options just before the mouth of Christchurch Harbour, 4km (2.5 miles) after the start of the walk. Afterwards cross the harbour mouth on the ferry and on the far side walk along Mudeford Spit and climb onto Hengistbury Head. Another lunch option is the Hiker's Cafe, 300 metres inland from the coast after Hengistbury Head, 7.4km (4.6 miles) into the walk.
To finish the walk in Christchurch refer to the Christchurch to Hengistbury Head pdf (see the button menu at the top of the page) and follow option #3 or #4. Option #3 makes a total walk from Chewton Bunny of 12.4km (7.7 miles).
To finish the walk in Bournemouth carry on along the seafront from Hengistbury Head. After a couple of miles it is possible to vary the walk by taking paths up onto the clifftop. A pleasant route to Bournemouth station is as follows: Passing Boscombe Pier (the first pier you come to, 5.8km (3.6 miles) after Hengistbury Head - good tea options here), ignore a zigzag path up the cliff immediately ahead of you, but carry on along the seafront for another 700 metres. Here turn right up another zigzag path up the cliffs. At the top cross the coast road and carry on up a path. This emerges at a roundabout: go straight on down the leafy Derby Road. In 150 metres cross a main road (Christchurch Road) and keep on up the road beyond (still Derby Road, later Gardens View) for 400 metres more until it ends at a T-junction. Here turn left - Southcote Road, though not named here - and in 300 metres, at the end of the road, turn right into St Swithun's Road, which brings you in 70 metres out opposite the entrance to Bournemouth station (with ASDA and a multi-story car park to its left). From Chewton Bunny this makes a route of 16km (9.9 miles).