This fine circular walk takes you around the beautiful Christchurch Harbour in Dorset. You'll visit the historic priory, climb to Hengistbury Head, stroll along the beautiful beaches at Mudeford and visit the pretty Stanpit Marsh Nature Reserve. The walk also includes two ferry crossings so you can really enjoy the harbour from all angles!
The walk starts from the car park next to Christchurch Priory in the centre of the town. You can enjoy a stroll around the priory grounds where there is a lovely stream leading to the old mill and the harbour. You then follow the path along the River Stour to the Wick Ferry. Here you can catch a little boat across the river for a fee of £1. The ferry runs on most days but if it's closed then you can always continue along the riverside path to Tuckton and cross the river there.
On the other side of the Avon you pick up the Stour Valley Way to take you through fields to Hengistbury Head. Look out for horses in the fields and herons and egrets on the water meadows on this section.
The paths then climb to Hengistbury Head where there are splendid views of the Isle of Wight, Mudeford Spit, Christchurch Harbour and Priory, the Purbeck Hills and Bournemouth Pier and beach. Look out for a variety of wildlife and heather in the late summer.
The path then descends to the lovely Mudeford Spit with its gorgeous beaches, sand dunes and pretty beach huts. Walk along the beach for about 10 minutes and you will reach the ferry on the left hand side. The ferry runs every 15 minutes during British Summer Time, from Easter to late October. It also operates at Weekends and School Hoildays in the Winter months, weather permitting. Click here for more information.
The ferry takes you to Mudeford Quay where there is a nice cafe for refreshments. Walk along the beach for a short while before turning west and following roads back to Stanpit Marsh Nature Reserve. Here you will find lagoons, marshland and reed beds with Curlew, Little Egret, Black-tailed Godwits and Herons to look out for.
The final section takes you past the Two Riversmeet golf course to the town and priory.
To extend your walking in the area you could follow the Avon Valley Path north along the River Avon.
Christchurch Harbour Ordnance Survey Map - view and print off detailed OS map
Christchurch Harbour Open Street Map - view and print off detailed map
Christchurch Harbour OS Map - Mobile GPS OS Map with Location tracking
Christchurch Harbour Open Street Map - Mobile GPS Map with Location tracking
At Hengistbury Head there's a cafe next to the car park and visitor centre where you can enjoy refreshments on the walk. There's also the Beach House cafe at Mudeford where there are nice sea views from the terrace.