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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.

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Saturday, 23 July 2016

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.


Anonymous said...

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 ?

Walker said...

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

Walker said...

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!

Walker said...

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)

ramblinros said...

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

Anonymous said...

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

Walker said...

N=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 w=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.