Highcliffe Beach

Barton to Bournemouth walk

23-Jul-16 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

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Avon Beach

Barton to Bournemouth walk

23-Jul-16 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

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Hentistbury Head and the Isle of Wight

Barton to Bournemouth walk

23-Jul-16 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

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23-Sep-08 • Andrew Murphy


23-Sep-08 • Andrew Murphy


23-Sep-08 • Andrew Murphy

Beach huts

Barton to Bournemouth walk

23-Jul-16 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

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Bournemouth to Barton-on-Sea via Hengistbury Head walk


This is a list of previous times this walk has been done by the club (since Jan 2010). For more recent events (since April 2015), full details are shown.

Updated: Fri, 04-Dec-20

Date # Post
Sat, 23-Jul-16 19

Saturday Third Walk - Swimming/seaside walk using SWT offer

SWC walk 74 (backwards) - Barton-on-Sea to Christchurch or Bournemouth
Length: 12.6km (7.8 miles) to Christchurch
16km (10 miles) to Bournemouth
Toughness: 2 out of 10: mainly flat

9.05 train from Waterloo (9.12 Clapham Junction) to New Milton, arriving 10.45.

Buy a day return to Bournemouth (or Christchurch, if you definitely plan to return from there) using the South West Trains £16 offer - has to be booked in advance online or bought in advance from a SWT ticket office - in both cases this can be done up to the day before.

The time has come, I think, to do a seaside walk using the SWT £16 offer and so I am taking a punt on the weather this weekend. (Sorry if this is also a slight clash with the second walk above, another long distance SWT expedition: but the SWT offer does not apply next weekend and who knows what the weather will be like in August).

There are excellent sea swimming opportunities throughout this walk (or as far as Hengistbury Head if you are ending in Christchurch) and there is high tide for most of the walk (the Solent having double high tides due to the Isle of Wight). The beaches are sandy and gently shelving.

Just to be different I am also proposing that this walk be done in the reverse direction to the one we usually take, that is starting in Barton-on-Sea. Bear with me on this.....

It means that you have to start with a short bus journey (go out of the station, turn left up the station approach to get to the main road, turn right on that, then right again into Westfield Road and get the X1 bus from the left-hand side of the road at 11.00, direction Bournemouth. In six minutes this bus gets to the coast at the Beachcomber Cafe, the usual end of this walk, but if you get off here you have a road walk of more than a mile to get around a landslip. So don't do that. Instead stay on the bus to "Naish Holiday Village" (another 7 minutes) and get off there. You then find yourself at the head of Chewton Bunny (it is a valley leading down to the sea) and a path takes you down that for 800 metres to the beach.

You then turn right and walk along the beach. In one mile there are paths up the cliff to Highcliffe Castle, which can be visited, has a tea room (accessible without paying admission) and is pretty to look at even if you are not visiting. (If you want, you can even take the X1 direct to the castle.) Returning to the beach it is another 1.5 miles to the mouth of Christchurch Harbour where there are some lunch options including the Haven House Inn right by the harbour mouth.

You then take the short ferry across the mouth of the harbour to Mudeford Spit. Here you find the Beach House Cafe (a restaurant, but with pub style food) and you climb up onto Hengistbury Head.

Finishing in Christchurch

Once on Hengistbury Head there are written walk directions to take you to Christchurch station (5km/3 miles), a pretty walk around the edge of Christchurch harbour. and up the River Stour. Follow Route #3 in the document, unless you want to be lazy and take another ferry all the way to Christchurch Quay (Route #4). Tea options on route #3 include the Hiker's Cafe just beyond Hengistbury Head, and also the Tuckton Tea Gardens by the road bridge over the Stour. On the other side of the road here there is also a chain pub, whose name escapes me. It is then a dull 1km walk up suburban roads to Christchurch station.

Trains back from Christchurch are at 30 past the hour and take 1hr 50 minutes: they overtake the 13 past trains, which take 2hrs 25 minutes

Finishing in Bournemouth

If you simply stay on the seafront after Hengistbury Head (you can still go inland a couple of hundred metres to the Hiker's Cafe if you like), it is 4 miles to Boscombe Pier, the first of Bournemouth's two piers. This is an all-tarmac walk on a promenade and can get monotonous, though the beach is top notch. You can vary it by taking the clifftop path from time to time (nice views). There are cafes en route.

The best way to Bournemouth station (about a mile of road walking) is as follows: Just beyond Boscombe Pier, look for the zigzag path up the cliff. Climb this, and at the top cross the coast road and carry on up a path. This emerges onto a road: go straight down this, across a main road (Christchurch Road) and on down the road (Derby Road) for several blocks until you come to a T-junction. Here turn left into Southcote Road, and at the end of this veer right into St Swithun's Road which brings you in 100 metres to the main road, with the entrance to Bournemouth Station (with ASDA and a multi-storey car park to its left) straight ahead.

The fastest train back from Bournemouth is the 59 past (till 19.59) taking 1hr 50 minutes. Next best is the 22 past (till 20.22) taking 2 hours. Ignore the 05 past, which stops everywhere and is overtaken by the 22 past. The last practical train is the 21.12 taking 2 hours 10 minutes. The 22.12 stops everywhere and should be avoided.
Can I get the £16 ticket and then decide on the day if I want to return from Chichester or Bournemouth or do I have to be specific when I buy the ticket ?
I think unless you definitely want to finish in Christchurch (NOT Chichester!!) then get a return to Bournemouth. It is the same price, after all, and the station furthest away from London, and I see nothing in the terms and conditions saying you have to travel to the station specified. I am not sure how they could tell where you got on/off anyway.

Plus don't worry about what train you specify to come back: the train time is not printed on the ticket and you are not committed to any particular train
Note also that the reference number for collecting your ticket from the machine is the "collection reference' (on the email) or "Ticket reference" on the confirmation screen after you book, not the "booking confirmation" which is displayed prominently on both and still appears in huge letters at the top of the email (on the confirmation screen at least they have put the ticket reference first). On the email you have to scroll down nearly to the bottom to find the "collection reference".

It's a hell of a way to run a railroad!
The sea temperature at Bournemouth today is 18.3 degrees, by the way (which is good: about as good as it gets in English seas)
The 16.16 from nor the Beachcomber Cafe left 3 mins early last Sat, so I could immediately catch the slow and changed to fast at S'ton.
If using this X1 service suggest arrive a few mins early at your stop. Superb walk, whichever variation or direction. God idea to start at Chewton Bunny in view of severe lanslip east of there, unless v strong wind and sand in your face
Well done Walker for posting this walk.
Walkers applied copious sun block on the train where one "invented" a new song "The Loco lotion"
The Chewton Bunny was nowhere to be seen perhaps hidden in the sea mist?

Then onto sun, sand, swimming, paddling, sea and plenty of seaside treats ah bliss!

Shame on South West Trains for only providing a five coach train on the 6:59 pm service from Bournemouth to Waterloo on the Saturday after most schools break up for the Summer Holidays.
Hooray for the SWT guard who "declassified" First Class so that at least some of the standing folks could grab a seat!

Awesome Walk

Sandy Toes
19 on this walk, travelling down on a full train with some standing later on Waterloo at 8.30 am was already busy. Arriving and getting on the bus we were shocked to drive into a sea mist, which lasted for the first half hour or so of the walk. But it soon cleared to a gorgeous day of breezy sunshine, the breeze keeping temperatures pleasant but never making it cold many of us were in shorts and short sleeves all day.

Chewton Bunny (a wooded valley leading to the sea) was a pretty way to start the walk. Once the mist cleared 10 of us had a glorious swim in lovely blue waters and light waves. The group then broke up a bit at lunch on the very busy Avon Beach at the mouth of Christchurch Harbour. Ten of us went to the pub (the Haven Harbour Inn??) while a few tried the cafe. We were told the food would take 40 minutes to arrive and this was about right. It was pleasant if not exactly inventive (scampi and chips etc).

Crossing to Mudeford Spit on the ferry (a boat ride makes it feel like a proper holiday!), we admired its £200,000 beach huts and then climbed up onto Hengistbury Head, with by now lovely clear views of the Isle of Wight. By this time the group had fragmented even more, so my account now becomes very partial (anyone else, feel free to add your experiences). Four of us had a second glorious swim in metre high waves just beyond the headland and then went for tea at the Hiker's Cafe with its eager band of crumb scavenging starlings. It seemed too early to finish at Chistchurch (somewhat to my regret as I love that route) but I know one or two other walkers did say the intended to do this and maybe did. We instead continued in the golden late afternoon light along the coast to Boscombe. Halfway I switched sub groups when I met three others having tea in a cafe. We then followed the route inland from Boscombe (I hope no one got confused here: the zigzag path in the directions is about 700 metres after the pier, not the one immediately after) and got the 7.22 train.

All standard class seats on this had filled before we got on it (shame on SWT for operating five carriages only on such a day at such a time, and when they have a cheap ticket offer on). So we sat in First, prepared to pay the Weekend First upgrade of £10 15 if asked. But we never were asked I guess the train was too full for ticket checks so we rode back to London in comfort at no extra cost, acquiring a couple of Mottisfont walkers on the way.

All agreed, I think, a lovely day out a whole beach holiday in one day.

Sat, 11-Jul-15 8

Saturday Second Walk - Seaside/swimming walk

SWC Walk 74d - Christchurch to Barton-on-Sea T=3.74.d
Length: 12.6km (7.8 miles)
Toughness: 2 out of 10 (basically flat!)

9.05 train from Waterloo (9.12 Clapham Junction) to Christchurch, arriving 10.52.

Buy a day return to Christchurch, which costs £33.25 with a Network Card.

Yes, it is an early start. Yes it is a pricey train ticket (South West Trains having mysteriously decided this year that summer is not the best month to give away cheap train tickets), but yes, it is only summer for a few weeks, so why not make the most of it?

This is a pleasant and interesting walk by the sea, which includes a little ferry ride across the mouth of Christchurch Harbour. In the afternoon it passes Highcliffe Castle (not NT) whose grounds can be visited for free (£3.45 to see the house: I am old enough to remember when the 1970s when the latter was a derelict shell).


The walk offers plentiful spots for sea swimming, usually in pleasant gently shelving waters and with sandy beaches (? - in places at least). The water temperature is usually a bit higher than in the south east - about 17 degrees is the estimate at time of writing. Low tide is at 12.30pm, so the tide will be coming in in the afternoon, but you are in the Solent here, which has funny double tides, so the tidal range is not as big as in other places on the south coast.


There are three main lunch options - the Hiker's Cafe before Hengistbury Head, the Beach House Cafe (more like a table-service pub) on Mudeford Spit, and the Haven House pub on the north side of the harbour channel.

For tea, Highcliffe Castle has a tea room, and Barton has a super self-service cliff with a cliff top garden, the Beachcomber ("open late" on Saturdays), which serves meals and alcohol too, and is a great place to finish the walk.


For walk directions, print both this document and this page. The document gives you two ways from Christchurch station to Mudeford Spit. The recommended walking route is Route #1 but if you fancy a nice long boat ride through Christchurch Harbour try Route #2.

(LAZY OPTION: do route #1 out and route #2 back and spent a lazy day exploring Hengistbury Head, Mudeford Spit and Christchurch - 7.6km/4.7 miles of walking.)

To continue to Barton once on Mudeford Spit you have to get the ferry across the mouth of the harbour, which goes from the pier in front of the Beach Cafe. (Make sure you get the harbour mouth ferry, not the one back to Christchurch!). You then follow the coast to Barton, with the walk's home page (the second link above) providing very brief directions (points 15 onwards).


To get back to London, you first have to take bus X1 from Barton (the stop just west of the Beachcomber cafe) to New Milton station (7 minutes journey time - Whitfield Road stop, which is a short distance from the station). The buses leave Barton at 16.16, 16.46 and 18.42 only (note the gap between the last two).

That being said, the buses 16.46 and 18.42 buses connect badly with the trains, so you might prefer to either

- walk to New Milton station, a dull suburban 2.5km/1.5 miles (a map is necessary for this).

- call a taxi from Barton to New Milton - probably not much more than the bus fare if there three or four of you: try Galleon Taxis on 01425 611 111 or Abacus Cars on 01425 638 100 or Coastal Private Hire 01425 628 443 (all these taken from Google).

Trains back from New Milton are at 37 past till 20.37, then 21.29, taking 1hr 45 minutes (1hr 53 mins for the last train). There is also a 22 past train from 17.22 (ie not 16.22) to 20.22 but these are very slow trains that actually arrive later than the subsequent 37 past ones.

Walker since the recent Sandling walk was very well attended it might be a good idea to kindly post a variety of different swimming walks regularly over the summer ? I mean to different parts of the coast if possible..?
There is supposed to be a second heatwave at the end of the month, begin.of August. Thanks

20 walkers, only a few of whom did actually go swimming, on Saturday's swimming walk; and zero confirmed attendees on Sunday's swimming walk. How does that make it a very decent turnout, necessitating more swimming walks?
I am not arguing with you whoever you are.. It wasn't very hot on Sunday! perhaps that is why no one went to the Folkestone walk?..

As someone who never goes swimming on a walk I very much like to be by the sea & appreciate such walks. Perhaps they should be billed sea/swimming walks none are only about swimming.
Just for information, all the foregoing comments were made BEFORE the walk was chosen and posted.
Please keep adding the 'swimming walks' however you choose to bill them. We did the Sandling one mid week on that hottest Wednesday ever and it was bliss to plunge into the sea at Sandgate. Just being by the sea whether you swim or not is glorious in this hot and dry weather.
agree anon, pass on this walk too early & expensive ! thanks anyway
Saturday 11 July: Christchurch to Barton: 8 braved an early start and a pricey rail ticket to do this walk, 7 of whom swam in the sea,. (Btw: I was the only male: why does sea swimming seem to appeal more to the distaff side?)

Despite clouds on the way down the weather was sunny but breezy all day: that is, the clouds stopped at the coast and we were nearly always on the right side of them. The wind was a little chilly at times but never massively so.

Our first swim was at Hengistbury Head, where the sea was clear in a way it never is in the south east and sparkled under deep blue skies. Some then walked over the headland and others along the beach where we mixed with the smart set (beach huts here cost £200,000+) and had dejeuner at the Beach House cafe.

After a short ferry ride across the mouth of the harbour we were for a time back among the hoi polloi on the mysteriously popular but rather grotty main beach for Christchurch, but soon escaped into the more refined environs of Highcliffe Castle up on the cliff top. Here half of us had tea, while half went to the beach below for another swim.

We all then combined to walk along the surprisingly wild beach towards Barton, but one decided (probably wisely) to take an inland route at Chewton Bunny (not a misprint: it is really called this). The rest of us frolicked in the lively surf before finding a path over the landslip, an exercise in navigation (and foolhardiness probably). We ate dinner at the Beachcomber Cafe and enjoyed its view of the Isle of Wight. Taxis to the station for the 7.37 train cost just £5.30 per car, which is probably cheaper than the bus fare.
Sat, 22-Feb-14 9 Christchurch to Bournemouth, via Hengistbury Head
Sat, 13-Jul-13 21 Christchurch to Barton-on-Sea [New Milton], via Hengistbury Head
Sun, 24-Jun-12 Christchurch to Barton-on-Sea [New Milton], via Hengistbury Head
Sun, 11-Dec-11 Christchurch to Barton-on-Sea [New Milton], via Hengistbury Head
Sun, 29-May-11 Christchurch to Barton-on-Sea [New Milton], via Hengistbury Head
Sun, 27-Jun-10 Christchurch Circular, via Hengistbury Head
Sat, 15-Aug-09 Bournemouth to Barton-on-Sea via Hengistbury Head