Lucy, Wilbur, and I went on our first holiday! It was also the first day trip Lucy and I have taken since 2019, apart from when we went to Norfolk to collect Wilbur as a puppy. We love the beach near Bournemouth, and we knew that our first holiday with Wilbur just had to be a seaside day trip in summer 2021!
Wilbur clearly loves the water. He can’t actually swim, but he likes to paddle around on the shore and chase sticks. We weren’t sure whether the ocean and the waves would be too much for him, but he did really well! The surf was a bit daunting, but he was keen to explore and had a great day.
For dog families in the UK looking for a good summer beach spot, we highly recommend Branksome Chine beach, which is off-lead dog friendly year round. There are a few car parks, and if you get there early, you shouldn’t have any issues finding a parking spot. I love that the Bournemouth beachfront has the promenade, which has cafés and ice cream shops, and lots of public toilets. They also have drinking water and showers available and plenty of dog water bowls. The beaches are sand, and the water is fairly clean (and sometimes warm!), making it a popular swimming spot. It’s such an accessible location for a fantastic day out at the beach with your furry friend, or kids!
What I like most about the Westbourne and Canford Cliffs area of Bournemouth is the landscape. The types of trees and vegetation are a diverse mix of sub-tropical palms mixed with a temperate rain forest of ferns and conifers. It reminds me so much of Vancouver and the Gulf Islands, so I guess that’s why I always feel at home. It’s also much quieter than the Bournemouth pier area, and has a completely different, local vibe.
Keeping up with the Big Dogs
Both Lucy and I agree that our favourite part of the trip was seeing how much fun Wilbur had at the beach. He loves other dogs, particularly large dogs, and just wanted to keep up with the gang. When we arrived at around 8:45am, most of the dogs at the beach were clearly local and out for their morning fetch/swim. It was mainly retriever breeds (Labradors etc.) who were much more interested in chasing their balls than in Wilbur, but he did his best to play along. Wilbur also found a “big dog’s stick” and had a blast bouncing around with it, trying to drag it around and hump it.
We had intended to go to the beach on Friday 30th July, but Storm Evert and the 60mi/hr winds put a damper on those plans. I’m so glad that I checked the forecast the night before, otherwise we would have had a not-to-great holiday! Monday was much clearer, and we completely lucked out with the weather. It was sunny when we arrived at the beach, and clouded over by the time we left. We didn’t really have any rain until it poured as soon as we got home!
Stop in the New Forest
After about two hours at the beach (and pistachio ice cream cones) Wilbur was clearly tired and getting grouchy so we decided to head out. If you’re planning a day trip to the Bouremouth area, I would suggest making a rest stop in the New Forest. It breaks up the drive and you get two iconic English tourist stops in one day trip. The New Forest is a National Park and conservation area famous for its wild horses. Again, it has beautiful old trees such as Douglas firs and other conifers you find on the West Coast of Canada. Blackwater Arboretum is a great picnic location, with lots of trails for walking and cycling. We had a little picnic lunch and then went for a walk before heading back to Oxford.
I’m relieved that our first outing with Wilbur went so well. He was brilliant in the car and slept most of the way. When we got home, he collapsed in a heap on me. We are hoping to go on a few more day trips this summer and I’ll keep you posted with what we get up to!
For previous holiday adventures to Bouremouth and the New Forest, see: