Free & Cheap Things to Do in Mudeford & Christchurch Dorset

We’ve just had a lovely weekend in Dorset, staying in a B & B in Mudeford, venturing out locally and along to Christchurch. We tend to spend a bit more on accommodation then balance it out with free activities. Here are some of the things we enjoyed and our recommended places to eat as well as a link to the review of where we stayed.

Things to Do in Mudeford & Christchurch

Avon Beach is 2 miles long from Quay to beach end. Having come here as a child and when my kids were small, it was lovely to see that some places don’t change a bit in 40 years. Even down to the Ice Cream Parlour still selling the rum n raisin ice cream that I had as a child (which always made me feel very grown up as a 10-year-old).

row of beach huts with boardwalk trees beach
Avon Beach

The beach is a mix of sand and stone with a boardwalk and beach huts running along much of it. The sea attracts many windsurfers but it is still ok for paddling. It’s great at low tide as you can walk out to the sandbanks.  There’s a couple of cafes, a gift shop, a fish & chip takeaway, the Ice Cream Parlour and toilets.

windsurfers on the sea windy cloudy day choppy sea
What great skill involved in keeping these up!

Mudeford Quay is famous for its crabbing. You can purchase bait and fishing accessories here and join many other families competing over how many they catch. I would only recommend this if you have sensible children as the water here is deep with very strong currents. There are a couple of eateries at this end (see my recommendations below), the RNLI centre, a fresh fish shop and the ferry to Mudeford Beach.  The Quay car park is £1.70 an hour, with 2 other car parks nearby at either end of Avon Beach (price unknown).

mudeford-ferry

From the Quay you can catch the ferry across the short stretch of water (£1.50 adults) to Mudeford Beach which is a peninsula boasting the country’s most expensive beach huts (up to £300,000 and that has no running water or electricity – yes seriously). There’s a café here, a gorgeous soft sandy beach on one side and the harbour on the other.

mudeford-beach
£300,000 for a beach hut!

If you want to do more than enjoy the beach, you can opt to get a further ferry from here to Christchurch, take the land train (£2 adults) or walk one of two routes across Hengistbury Head Nature Reserve. We chose for the more strenuous longer route over the cliff tops on the beach side which took a good half hour. You can also walk the flatter harbour side by the marshes. Despite the cloud, we were treated to stunning 360 degree views of the Spit, Isle of Wight, Bournemouth and Christchurch.

hengistbury-head-mudeford
View of Mudeford from Hengistbury Head Cliffs

At the bottom of the trail is the thatch-roofed Visitor Centre which is well worth stopping at for half an hour. There are lots of interactive displays, film clips and artifacts to look at, a cute gift shop and the most gorgeous English country garden complete with a beehive, pond, chamomile lawn and carved wooden seating. In fact, you’ll find many beautiful carved benches along the entire walk to Christchurch. It is free entry to the centre, although donations are welcome.

visitor-centre-thatched-cottage
Hengistbury Head Nature Reserve Visitor Centre

We carried on walking towards Christchurch, using the Priory in the distance to keep our bearings. We walked about another hour past the land train station, adjacent to the golf course then through the lower nature reserve until we came to Wick. Here you can get another ferry across the water (£1) or continue to walk to Tuckton Tea Gardens where you can walk to the other side.

christchurch

Once in Christchurch, we spent some time along the Quayside. There’s a lovely green perfect for picnics with a children’s splash park and playground and places to hire boats. Christchurch is steeped in history and there’s an old water mill which is mentioned in the Doomsday Book, the famous Priory and even a dunking stool! The Priory is free to enter at selected times and well worth a look if you like old architecture.

christchurch-priory
Look inside Christchurch Priory

By the time we’d had lunch and finished enjoying Christchurch, we had covered a fair few miles so we decided to come back to Mudeford by ferry. There are two companies. United Ferries by the main Quay which costs £5 and takes 25 mins back to Mudeford Beach or Wick Ferries, a bit further up the water, who charge less and you have the option of a direct sail or a longer one via Tuckton for the same price of £4.20. Timings meant we had to get the former. It was a pleasant trip back and interesting to see the other side to Hengistbury Head.

wick-ferry-christchurch
Wick Ferry

A different viewpoint of the area is by foot on the other side of the harbour with a walk around Stanpit Marsh. You can park at Mudeford Recreation Ground free, walk to the left of the Scout Hut and follow the big loop around back to the car park. This is a 30-40 minute walk with constantly changing scenery, from a country footpath to open shrub land to marshes with views of Mudeford Beach, Hengistbury Head and Christchurch. There are lots of species of birds, wild plant life and even horses to be seen. A great spot for photography and in some areas picnics. There is also a small Visitor Centre.

TOP TIP: Do wear insect repellent.

There are plenty of nearby places with free attractions too such as The New Forest, 
Burley, Bolderwood, Bournemouth, Boscombe and Poole.

meadow with wild flowers yachts and church harbour
Stanpit Marsh

Where to eat in Mudeford

Lees at China takeaway

Food can be ordered in shop or online for collection or free delivery. We had it delivered to our B and B within 40 mins. Cost £20 for duck pancakes (excellent) chicken chow mein (very nice) and large chicken fried rice (I thought it was bland but my husband liked it). Good service and yes we would use again.

The Haven House Inn

Situated on the quayside, this pub offers usual home cooked food at normal pub prices (£30 for 2 meals and drinks) We had rib eye steak and steak and ale pie. Both were delicious with very good size portions. As I didn’t want peas I was offered a side salad at no extra cost. Seating is inside and outside (dogs allowed inside but children aren’t). Highly recommended. There was an adjoining cafe but we didn’t eat here.

steak chips peas onion rings ketchup tomato dinner

Where to eat in Christchurch

Ye Olde George Inn

We both had Sunday Roasts (beef and turkey) which were amazing at around £10 each. They were hot, tasty and despite looking small initially were more than enough.  Definitely recommended. Indoor and outdoor seating available here.

Rather than have pudding I suggested we get cake and coffee and eat by the Quay in the fresh air. We found Indulge Yourself which wasn’t cheap for a takeaway but oh so good. We can recommend the carrot cake, cookie & cream cheesecake, milkshake and tea (£3.99 each for the cakes). They offer both eat in and takeaway service. Strangely there is no name outside but it has a brown awning and just a few doors away from the George.

chocolate cakes sponges and cheesecakes in fridge display

View lots more photos on Facebook from around Mudeford and Christchurch.

Where to Stay:

Read my review for Bure Lodge B & B Mudeford

If you are looking for hotels in this area, feel free to use our personal referral code for Booking.com where you and I may both get a £15 credit after your stay.

*BOOKING.COM SIGN-UP

If using other booking agents you can also sign up to Topcashback or Quidco to earn cashback on your stays. You may get an introductory gift depending on current offers, and I may get a referral credit if you reach a certain spend.

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* current offer at 13.11.18


You may also like my other posts:

An Afternoon in Poole
The Orchid Hotel Bournemouth
The Basingstoke Canal

Or find more places to visit in my Days Out & Travel UK section.

stormy pink sky sun setting over the ocean

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5 thoughts on “Free & Cheap Things to Do in Mudeford & Christchurch Dorset

  1. My grandparents live in Christchurch so it’s been my second home for nearly 15 years! I refer to it as my “happy place”. I feel so at peace there and this article is just perfect. X

    Liked by 1 person

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