Bournemouth is classic British seaside with a twist, making a great ending to your Dorset Coast Path Walking Holiday by offering plenty of comfort and lots of amusement! A nationwide survey revealed its residents to be the happiest in the UK, with 82% of people questioned saying they were happy with their lives, no doubt partly thanks to its 7 miles of sandy beach. So, if you arrive exhausted and soaked from your last days walk in from Swanage, things are only likely to get better if you stay here!
It is a young resort, purpose-built at the beginning of the 19th century, and within 40 years became one of the largest Victorian holiday destinations in Britain. The ornamental Pleasure Gardens and the grand Bournemouth Pier are the most obvious reminder of its genteel golden age, along with the amusing art deco style Pavilion, in its day said to be the best municipal entertainment building in the world! Further down the shoreline, having just undergone a £2.4 million restoration, is Boscombe Pier - a great place to stretch your legs, unwind and watch the surfers as they play on Europe’s first artificial surf reef. The brave can join them, there are plenty of water sport activities on offer here for those who still have the energy.
Bournemouth has particularly endearing ornamental gardens, with pine fringed seaside walks and carefully tended open spaces (known as Chine’s) that lead down to the beaches and form a very attractive feature of the area, so that you don’t feel that you have been totally thrust back into the urban world here. The award-winning Central Gardens for instance lead inland for several miles up the valley of the River Bourne from the centre of the town and make an excellent winding down stroll from the coast path.
If you have time, the Oceanarium is well worth a visit, bringing you eye to eye with mean-looking sharks, massive moray eels and giant turtles. For an alternative attraction try The Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum - built at the end of the 1800s to showcase an eclectic range of souvenirs, including a plaster version of the Parthenon frieze, Maori woodcarvings and art by Victorian masters such as Rosetti and Edwin Landseer.
Bournemouth is the largest town in Dorset with a population of around 168,000 and therefore offers a huge variety of eating venues covering every style and budget all within easy walking distance of your accommodation. After a week on the coast path, you won’t know where to start. If nothing else, to complete your sense of achievement in having walked here from Lyme Regis, take a trip on the Bournemouth Eye in the Pleasure Gardens – a kind of hot air balloon ride with views from the top looking back over your walking route along the Jurassic Coast.
Bournemouth has an excellent range of accommodation with some very good hotels hidden in leafy suburbs or on the low cliffs overlooking the beaches. It has very fast and direct train connections to London and elsewhere in the UK and offers super easy access on the very regular bus service from the Sandbanks Ferry at the end of the coast path.