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).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
View lots more photos on Facebook from around Mudeford and Christchurch.
Where to Stay:
Read my review for Bure Lodge B & B Mudeford
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Or find more places to visit in my Days Out & Travel UK section.