Monday, 3 September 2012

The Bournemouth Coast Path: A review

We found about the existence of the Bournemouth Coast Path quite by accident: we noticed a guide book in the Poole branch of Waterstone's. Exploring the Bournemouth Coast Path by Leigh Harris is published by Countryside Books (more information can be found here.) It describes a route from Swanage to Lymington, but we felt that the core route was from Sandbanks to New Milton - the Swanage to Sandbanks section is part of the South West Coast Path, which we had already done, while New Milton to Lymington marks the beginning of the Solent Way, a possible future project.

The Bournemouth Coast Path dates from 1985 and seems to have been the invention of the author: well done to him! He is clearly pleased that it has been designated as part  of the E9 European Coast Path, which will run 3,125 miles from Capo de Sao Vincente in Portugal to Narva-Joesuu in Estonia. This (the E9) is obviously a wonderful concept, but seems to consist at present of not much more than a line drawn on the map. I have it on my to-do list to see what stretches of coast path are extant in Portugal, Spain and France.

We really enjoyed walking the BCP, which we did in four legs (listed below), a distance of 27 miles including the retunr trip along Hurst Spit. We were surprised by how varied it was and this reflects the route which takes you up and down the various chines that surround Bournemouth rather than simply following the promenade at the back of the beach. Also of course the route encompasses two harbours (Poole and Christchurch) and it was interesting to see how they were both similar and different. There are also two castles, at least on our route - Highcliffe and Hurst. We loved Highcliffe, but were a bit disappointed by the appearance of Hurst (we arrived too late in the day to go in).

We also learned a lot about the history, geography and geology of the area and, not least, were shocked to see how far Poole extended. We hadn't really clocked where the boundary with Bournemouth was, but now we know.

But perhaps the greatest satisfaction is that, as we have already walked the SW Coast Path to the western edge of Dorset at Lyme Regis, we can now say that we have walked every inch of the coast of this lovely county. And finally doing the Bournemouth Coast Path inspired me to devise a short town walk around Bournemouth.


1 Sandbanks to Bournemouth Pier

2 Bournemouth Pier to Mudeford Spit

3 Mudeford Quay to Barton-on-Sea

4 Barton-on-Sea to Hurst Castle

We had previously waked from Poole Quay to Sandbanks.

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