Lucy and I spent the UK August bank holiday visiting Bournemouth, and we both completely fell in love with it! Bournemouth is a seaside town on the south coast of England popular with families and old age pensioners. It’s the standing joke in the UK that Bournemouth is the holiday destination for old people, but, let me tell you, old people have figured it out!
We stayed in a self-catered apartment in a suburb of Bournemouth filled with hotels, a five minute walk to a fantastic stretch of sandy beach, and near the very pricy neighbourhoods of Wesbourne and Sandbanks. Most things were within walking distance, and public transit was great. We liked not having to eat out for every meal and it saved a lot of money, so we’re converts to the self-catered/Air bnb vacation.
One of the things that appealed to me most is how similar the environment and vibe is to Vancouver, Victoria, and the Gulf Islands. It felt like I was home and, moreover, it felt like somewhere I could actually call home. No plans to move down to Bournemouth in the near future, but we will definitely visit again soon. It has plenty to do for couples, those who enjoy bars, shopping, water sports, dog walks, hiking, family days out, history, and oh yeah, its warm and old person friendly. PERFECT!
I’m so happy to be able to share my holiday photos with you and I hope this post gives you some tips if you’re planning a holiday down south, or holiday inspiration wherever you may be. This was a much needed break from a frankly stressful, discouraging, and tiring few months at work for both of us. If you’re struggling with the daily grind, I hope you find your Bournemouth soon!
Durley Chine/ Bournemouth Pier: These photos were taken on Friday afternoon when we arrived. FYI you have to pay to get on the pier, but the arcade for playing the 2p slots (my favourite) is free to enter, and the cocktail bar on the top of the entrance is pricy, but has a great selection and spectacular view. If you’re daring, you can zipline from the end of the pier back to the beach…
In the summer there are fireworks displays off the pier. Honestly, Lucy had to drag me out at 10pm because I was so tired! But, what I found most enjoyable was hearing all the drones buzzing overhead as their owners tried to capture the show. Very surreal.
We went for a walk on Saturday morning and the water was so calm that there were loads of swimmers and paddle boarders out. I definitely recommend getting in some morning walks before the beach gets too crowded!
For those who can’t handle the trek up and down the hill to the beach, there are furniculars dotted along the pathway.
I don’t feel guilty about indulging in food while we were there because we definitely burned it off. My Fit Bit tells me that, on average, we walked over 20,000 steps. When we were at Durdle Door, I climbed 44 floors!
Brownsea Island is located in Poole Harbour and is owned by the National Trust. You get to it by ferry either from Poole or Sandbanks. The ferry is cash only (and we didn’t have quite enough) so it was a 30 min round trip in the heat to the nearest cash machine in Sandbanks – boo. At least we got to see all the yachts and ridiculously expensive houses on Sanbanks (it has the fourth highest land property prices in the world).
From Sanbanks it’s only a 5 minute ferry ride to Brownsea island. There is a castle which is a private hotel, and the rest is National Trust nature reserve. There is loads of heather, and it’s home to the red squirrel, of which we only saw one. On the island there is also ruins of an old pottery, and it’s the site of the first Scouts camp.
We brought a picnic lunch and did quite a bit (too much) walking in the heat. One thing we both regret is that we didn’t come prepared with enough summer clothes as we were expecting it to be raining and cool.
My favourite part of the holiday was when we went to get back on the ferry. We decided to do our return trip to Poole and take the bus back to Bournemouth. Instead of the ferry heading straight back to Poole, it turns out you join a 40 minute guided tour of the harbour, all for £13! It was a fantastic tour and the guide did a brilliant job of combining information on the history, ecology, and economics of the area. I learned, for example, that Poole Harbour is actually very shallow and is the second largest natural harbour in the world. One of the islands houses the site of a huge underwater oil refinery.
Poole Harbour was used by the Romans, the Normans, and was home to infamous pirates. It has a huge shell fish farm, and one of the islands is home to fish-eating spiders. Finally, it has the only island to be listed in the Domesday Book. When we passed Green Island, which has a private summer house, we saw people chasing each other through the trees and one was wearing a gorilla suite. Fantastic! Poole itself was a bit run-down so we didn’t stay long.
Sunday was beach day. We bought an unbrella because it was unbearably hot. Also, here is a picture of a dog on a paddle board. The pistachio ice cream at the beach is delicious!
Durdle Door and The New Forest
Monday was time to head home but we first headed to Durdle Door – a limestone arch on the Jurrasic Coast near the Lulworth Estate. The internet tells me that “Durdle” is derived from the Old English word for nostril. To get to Durdle Door you have to go through the marines’ training lands with signs that caution of gunfire and tanks!
Again, it was very hot and we weren’t prepared. If I had to punish someone, I would make them walk up and down that gravelled, slippery hill of hell to the beach. We got half way up the first cliff (featured below) and I decided I was never going to get back down so we made our way back to the car and headed for the shade of The New Forest.
The New Forest is a large, populated area in southern England that has pockets of trees and heather brush. It also has freely roaming ponies! We went for a quick walk in the arboretum, which is very similar to the West Coast of Canada because somebody way back when planted a bunch of cedar trees. I enjoyed the shade. Then, we sat in lovely bank holiday traffic for many hours. The End.