Bournemouth beaches coastline, Dorset, England

From Hengistbury Head at the east end (on the right side) it’s  7 miles of Bournemouth beaches  when merging with Poole’s Branksome Chine and Sandbanks (out of the picture bottom left).

Bournemouth beaches from east to west

Bournemouth town is a large and popular south coast beach resort in the county of Dorset, generally green, affluent and lacking both heavy industry and violent crime. A bank survey in 2007 indicated that Bournemouth was the happiest place in Britain (which sadly isn’t saying much in these days of catastrophic financial failure and moronic local and national government). The town is easy to reach by rail or the M3 motorway – just 100 minutes from London.

Here’s a selection of pictures of Bournemouth beaches starting in the east at Hengistbury Head and travelling west along the full 7 miles of Bournemouth Bay to Sandbanks, then over the Poole Harbour ferry to Studland beaches and on through the rest of Dorset.

Hengistbury Head

Hengistbury Head path, Bournemouth beaches, Dorset, England

Hengistbury Head hosts large though partly stony beaches – with a naturist section right under the ‘Head’.

Apart from beaches – and they include pleasant little Mudeford just around the corner – the Head offers a variety of lovely wild walks, plenty of wildlife (this is a Nature Reserve) and even stone-age camp remains stretching back 12, 500 years. Hengistbury Head is a scheduled ancient monument with remnants of stone, bronze and iron-age settlements, including defensive ditches known as ‘Double Dykes’ constructed 2, 000 years ago when this was probably Britain’s biggest port.

Boscombe Beach

Boscombe beach, Bournemouth beaches, Dorset, England

Boscombe’s beach is probably the the most active beach on the coast with various activities such as mini-rock climbing, paddle boarding and quite pathetic surfing.

The Boscombe section (east of Bournemouth pier) finished construction of a £3m artificial reef to increase surf waves but sadly it didn’t as the huge sandbags  exploded.

Boscombe housing, Bournemouth beaches, Dorset, England

Typical Boscombe housing, much of it near the beach dedicated to Guest Houses or b’n’bs.

Much of Bournemouth’s central promenade is approached every couple of hundred yards by a chine. Above is the start of a small river valley where the river no longer flows through coastal cliffs to the sea. Some of these are Branksome Chine, Alum Chine, Middle Chine and Durley Chine and Honeycombe Chine.

Bournemouth Beach

Bournemouth beaches and Pier, Dorset beaches, England

Surfing is not good near Bournemouth pier so head for Cornwall if you want to really catch some waves.

Immediately adjacent to Bournemouth beach are the Pier, the Aquarium, many eating, drinking facilities, toilets, beach gear rentals etc. Every convenience known to man, in other words, providing there are pounds in your pocket.

However, for watching the excellent firework displays that partly shoot out from the pier on a Friday summer nights, this is pole position. The beaches are dog free, smoke free and pioneered the original safe “KIDZONE” scheme as well as trialling beach lockers.

Alum Chine beach

Alum Chine, Bournemouth beaches, Dorset, England

Alum Chine marks the border between Bournemouth Council and Poole Council. The sand here is wide and soft with lifeguard, there’s a toddler playground, a small car park if you get there early (or late) enough, and at least one excellent beach-side restaurant. In addition the surrounds are a delightful natural river valley forest with steep sandstone cliffs and stairs to the top if you choose to park on  (what is known as) the Overcliff.

Further up the Chine hangs an attractive suspension bridge from which young Winston Churchill is supposed to have fallen during a game of tag –  he jumped into the treetops to escape but didn’t quite make it and presumably landed in the vegetation rather than on the asphalt.

Bournemouth/Poole beaches have won more awards for cleanliness and safety than any other area in the United Kingdom, including the environmental group ENCAMS ‘Best Beach In The UK’.

Bournemouth and Poole Councils invested heavily in a major channel dredging operation a couple of years ago, spewing the bay’s mud onto the beaches – 700, 000 cubic metres of the stuff – which magically morphed into fine sand a few days later. The beaches are now a good 20m wider and the sand 2m deeper than previously.

Branksome Chine beach (Poole, Dorset)

Branksome Chine, Poole, Dorset beaches, England

Another wide beach with soft creamy sand – and getting softer as we progress west, same old promenade,  but a largish car park and a pleasant ‘Gardens’ chine walk behind the beach, with the usual restaurants and cafés and kids facilities.

The beaches around here are very similar quality, plenty of play space, nice mature green hinterland but quite cold waters of Bournemouth Bay.

The Branksome Chine area is affluent and as we drift west the affluence gradually expands into wealth, and then the extreme wealth of Sandbanks peninsula. Then it’s across the ferry to the beaches and National Park of Studland and Shell Bay, before staggering over the Purbeck Hills ridge to Swanage or heading inland a bit to see Agglestone Rock and Corfe Castle.