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Bournemouth Coast Path

Dorset and Hampshire

Start: Swanage, Dorset

Finish: Lymington, Hampshire

Length: 37 miles

This 37 mile walk takes you from Swanage in Dorset through to Lymington in Hampshire. It links the Dorset end of the South West Coast Path, with the Solent Way which travels from Milford-on Sea to Emworth on the Hampshire Surrey border.

The walk takes you across cliffs along the Purbeck coastline, through woodland, Bournemouth beaches and chines through at the eastern end into heathland and the edge of the New Forest. You get to see two natural harbours of Christchurch and Poole Harbour, views across to The Needles on the Isle of Wight, castles and both sandy and pebble beaches, as well as the ferries crossing the solent out to the Isle of Wight and beyond.

Ordnance survey maps which cover this walk include the Landranger 195 and 196; and Explorer 15 and 22.

Swanage to Sandbanks (7 miles)

Location: Swanage, Dorset

Grid Reference: SZ034787 Ceremonial County: Dorset
Map Link: Multimap Aerial photo: Google Aerial Photo

Getting there: From A35 just outside Poole take the A351 through Wareham and Corfe Castle until you reach the roads end at Swanage.

Website: http://www.swanage.gov.uk/

Other useful websites: Bournemouth Coast Path      LDWA


Old Harry Rock stacks

Chalk stacks located east of Studland, below the cliffs at Ballard Down. The cliff is chalk with bands of flint and have been reduced over centuries by the sea. The downland habitat is home to a variety of chalk flora which is complimented by many species of butterfly including Chalkhill Blue and Adonis Blue.

Location: Old Harry Stacks, nr Studland, Dorset

Grid Reference: SZ044821 Ceremonial County: Dorset
Map Link: Multimap  Aerial photo: Google Aerial Photo  

Getting there: Take the A351 to Swanage, at Corfe take the B3351 to Studland and follow the footpath out to Old Harry.

Website: http://www.soton.ac.uk/~imw/harry.htm

Other useful websites: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Harry_Rocks      National Trust

Notes: There are a number of car parks within Studland and the Studland Bay area.


Poole Harbour

Poole Harbour and quay is 3 miles of golden sands. A large natural harbour,  at it's entrance is Sandbanks where it's chain ferry takes passengers across to the Isle of Purbeck and in it's centre Brownsea Island, a haven for the British Red Squirrel. It is also a gateway to the Solent with ferries leaving for the Channel Islands and France.

Location: Poole Harbour, Poole, Dorset

Grid Reference: SZ020882 Ceremonial County: Dorset
Map Link: Multimap Aerial photo: Google Aerial Map 

Getting there: From the A35 take the A350 into Poole and follow the signs.

Website: http://www.phc.co.uk/

Other useful websites: Wiki-Poole Harbour  www.pooletourism.com/ 

www.pooleharbourweather.com/    www.directferries.co.uk/poole_ferry.htm

Notes: Also contains Poole Marina with it's large number of pleasure boats


A small piece of land jutting out at the opening of Poole Harbour is the Sandbanks peninsula. Three miles from Poole town centre. Sandbanks beach is 5 kilometres of golden sand and a Blue Flag beach popular with swimmers and bathers during the summer months. Watersports and other activities also take place. It is connected to Studland via a chain ferry, the Sandbanks Ferry which takes both car and foot passengers across the mouth of Poole Harbour.

Location: Sandbanks, nr Poole, Dorset

Grid Reference: SZ036873 Ceremonial County: Dorset
Map Link: Multimap Aerial photo: Google Aerial Map

Getting there: From Poole take the A35 out towards Bournemouth, then take the B3369to Sandbanks or follow the sandcastles painted on the B3369 from the Civic Centre.

Website: http://www.pooleview.co.uk/beach/sandbanks.htm

Other useful websites: http://www.sandbanksferry.co.uk/   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandbanks

Notes: Parking near beach for 550 vehicles and some off road parking.

Sandbanks to Bournemouth (6 miles)

From Sandbanks you get to pass the chines of Flag Head, Canford Cliffs, Banksome and Alum, before getting to the beaches at Bournemouth and Christchurch Harbour.


The sandy beaches at Bournemouth are popular with tourists. You could take a ride on the cliff lifts at either end to get up to the main town centre or take time out at the Oceanarium on the seafront.

Location: Bournemouth, Hampshire

Grid Reference: SZ086909 Ceremonial County: Hampshire
Map Link: Multimap Aerial photo: Google Aerial Photo 

Getting there: the A35 dual carriageway takes you to the centre of Bournemouth and then follow the signs to the seafront and Oceanarium.

Website: http://www.bournemouth.co.uk/ 

Other useful websites:  http://www.oceanarium.co.uk/   



Bournemouth to Mudeford (6 miles)

This part of the path takes you along the east cliff through to Boscombe, the next part to Southbourne takes you past Honeycombe Chine and over 2 miles of grass cliff top and the remains of sand dunes which is home to sand lizards. From Southbourne to Mudeford you go over Hengistbury Head where you can get panoramic views of the coast and Christchurch Harbour before taking a walk along a beach lined with 300 picturesque beach huts, which are unique in that they can be slept in overnight from March to November each year, onto Mudeford.

Location: Mudeford, Hampshire

Grid Reference: SZ196920 Ceremonial County: Hampshire
Map Link: Multimap Aerial photo: Google Aerial Map 

Getting there: Off tthe A35 into Christchurch and follow the signs to Mudeford

Website: http://www.highcliffe-mudeford.com/ 

Other useful websites: http://www.mudefordferry.co.uk/ http://www.msbnews.co.uk/



Mudeford to Mildford on Sea (8 miles)

Make your way along the shoreline and past Highcliffe Castle to the seaside town of Milford on Sea and on to Hurst Castle Spit at the end of which is Hurst Castle.

Location: Milford on Sea

Grid Reference: SZ288916 Ceremonial County: Hampshire
Map Link: Multimap Aerial photo: Google Aerial Map

Getting there: From the A337 between Lymington and Christchurch take the B3058 to Milford on Sea.

Website: http://www.milfordonsea.com/Read.htm

Other useful websites: Wiki - Milford    Wiki - Solent Way


Hurst Castle

One of Henry VIII's artillery forts built at the end of a long shingle spit at the went end of the solent to guard the approaches to the Navel Dockyard at Portsmouth. Charles I was imprisoned there in 1648 before being taken to London for his trial and execution. During WWII it was manned with coastal gun batteries and searchlights. It is now owned by English Heritage.

Hurst Castle and lighthouse

Hurst Castle and the Lighthouse   Chris Downer

Location: Hurst Castle, Hampshire

Grid Reference: SZ317896 Ceremonial County: Hampshire
Map Link: Multimap Aerial photo: Google Aerial Photo

Getting there: Only access is via foot which is a 1.5 mile walk from Milford on Sea.

Website: English Heritage - Hurst Castle

Other useful websites: Wiki - Hurst Castle

Notes: Open 21st Mar-31st Oct Daily 10.30am-5.30pm

Milford on Sea to Lymington (7 miles)

As well as being the end of this walk, it is also the start of the Solent Way Path.

Location: Lymington, Hampshire

Grid Reference: SZ327960 Ceremonial County:  Hampshire
Map Link: Multimap Aerial photo: Google Aerial Photo

Getting there: From the A35 at Lyndhurst take the A337 through the New Forest National Park to Lymington.

Website: http://www.lymington.org/

Other useful websites: Bournemouth Coast Path      LDWA

Notes: A market town situated on the southern edge of the New Forest. You can also catch the ferry to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight from here.


Please let us know any other information that we can add to the Grid(s) or page and any errors that you discover. Before making a long trip to any location it is always wise to double check the current information, websites like magazines may be correct at the time the information is written, but things change and it is of course impossible to double check all entries on a regular basis. If you have any good photographs that you feel would improve the illustration of this page then please let us have copies. In referring to this page it is helpful if you quote both the Page Ref and Topic or Section references from the Grid below. To print the planning grid select it then right click and print the selected area.

Please submit information on locations you discover so that this system continues to grow.

By: Tracey Park Section: Walk Section Key:
Page Ref: Bournemouth_CP Topic: Walks Last Updated: 04/2009


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