Backup Only

This Week's Walks - Archive

Please see the Saturday Walker's Club This Week's Walks page.

This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

Blog Archive

Saturday, 11 July 2015

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.


Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...

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?

Anonymous said...

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?..

MG said...

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.

Walker said...

Just for information, all the foregoing comments were made BEFORE the walk was chosen and posted.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

agree anon, pass on this walk too early & expensive ! thanks anyway

Walker said...

Saturday 11 July: Christchurch to Barton: n=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 w=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.