Five Unique Days Out from Beautiful Bournemouth
Bournemouth, on the south coast of England is one of the premier holiday destinations in the world. It is a lively, vibrant and cosmopolitan town with top shops, nightclubs, restaurants, theaters and Europe's first artificial surf reef.
As well as the obvious attractions of its seaside location - the seven miles of gently sloping golden beaches, ideal for sunbathing, building sand castles, paddling, or swimming in the clear blue sea - the town is situated in a wonderful position within a few miles of an enormous range of unique attractions, ideal for days out. In this short article I have chosen just five: Poole, Brownsea Island, Stonehenge, The New Forest and Beaulieu, and you may rest assured there are many more.
Bournemouth has a wonderful position at the the centre of England's south coast, yet is less than 140 kilometers from London
Only 4 miles from Bournemouth, due west, the port town of Poole is a worthy holiday destination in its own right. Its historic and still bustling quay dates back hundreds of years and the magnificent natural beauty of its harbour is world famous. Also famous internationally is Poole Pottery which for over a century has produced ceramics of outstanding beauty, originality and quality.
- Waterfront museum, and historic buildings.
- Harbour cruises and sailings to and from Cherbourg in France and the Channel Islands.
- The RNLI visitor centre.
- Poole Lighthouse – the largest Arts Centre outside London.
- Poole Pottery factory shop.
There are 3 miles of beach around Poole, actually comprising 5 beaches, each one gently sheltered with crystal clear waters. Sandbanks Beach adjoins the world's third most expensive housing region (after Tokyo and New York) and is the winner of more blue flags than any other UK resort, holding the prestigious Blue flag for the last 22 years, and wardens regularly patrol its seafront throughout the year.
Poole is gem and is only 10 minutes' drive from Bournemouth.
Brownsea Island lies just inside the entrance to Poole harbour, the largest of its five islands, just one and a half miles long and three quarters of a mile wide. It is only a 20 minute boat trip from Poole Quay but offers a different world from the mainland.
There are tranquil woodland walks, stunning harbour views (Poole Harbour is the second largest natural harbour in the world) and a scout and guide activity centre - the island was the location in 1907 of the first boy scout camp organised by Lieutenant-General Baden-Powell to test his ideas for the book 'Scouting for Boys'. During their eight days together, they learnt to survive in the wild, and how to live by a code of honour and their stay is regarded as the real origin of the worldwide Scout movement.
Brownsea Island is also one of the last strongholds of the Red Squirrel in southern Britain. In most of the UK mainland they have been driven out by the more aggressive North American Grey Squirrel.
Less than 2 hours drive from Bournemouth is one of the most famous prehistoric sites in the world, Stonehenge. It is composed of earthworks surrounding a circular setting of large standing stones and stands at the centre of the most dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds. It is brooding, impassive, cryptic and mightily impressive.
From its earliest beginnings around 3000BC when the first bank and ditch were dug it served as a burial ground and evolved in several construction phases spanning at least 1500 years, first building in timber, and then stone. Some of the gigantic sarsen stones weigh a very handy 50 tons each, are capped by huge stone lintels and linked by mortis and tenon joints. They were dragged to the site from the Marlborough Downs, some 30kms away and the bluestones forming the smaller pillars came from Prescelly in South West Wales, over 161km away. They would be difficult to erect even today. How it was done in prehistoric times is still a matter for debate, but it is arguably one of the most impressive building achievements in human history.
The reason why Stonehenge was built has been long debated. It was discovered in the 18th century that the stones of the monument are aligned to the midsummer sunrise so that on Midsummers Day when viewed through one of the massive arches to the ceremonial entrance, the sun rises directly over the great pillar known as the Heel Stone.
Detailed analysis has shown that the site is aligned with astonishing accuracy for this event and experts now believe that one function of Stonehenge was an astronomical observatory used to draw up a calendar to chart and predict the necessary and vital timings of important seasonal agricultural events such as planting and harvesting. It would have served as a religious center for worshipping the sun and moon and with important practical applications for day to day life.
It is an awe-inspiring place. It lies 50km from Bournemouth.
The New Forest
The New Forest starts at Bournemouth's eastern extremity and provides a remarkable and unique visual and historic landscape of great variety and beauty, covering some 570 square kilometers.
It comprises heather-covered heathland, pasture, boggy mires, ancient woodland, gentle farmland, coastal saltmarsh and mudflats as well as many picturesque villages and towns. There are over 250 barrows or burial mounds and over 150 scheduled ancient monuments within the Forest boundaries. The New Forest was created as a royal forest by William I in about 1079 for the private hunting of wild deer and boar.
Today, the Forest is famous for its wild ponies, the New Forest Pony being one of the indigenous horse breeds of the British Isles The ponies, cattle, and also donkeys roam freely throughout the area, and it is largely their grazing that maintains the open character of the Forest. The ponies are also frequently seen in the Forest villages where home and shop owners must maintain constant vigilance to keep them out of gardens and shops.
The New Forest is also rich in other wildlife. If you take a walk you may see three species of otters, 15 species of owls, mink, pine martens, lynx, wildcat, wallabies, (yes, wallabies), wild boar and (in their own enclosure) wolves.
All this starts less than 10 minutes' drive from the center of Bournemouth.
Beaulieu Palace House
Set deep within the New Forest but worthy of mention in its own right is the magnificent coutry house and estate of Beaulieu. The Palace House itself is set in glorious grounds with immaculate lawns and walkways overlooking the Beaulieu River. The house has been in Lord Montagu's family ownership since 1538, and contains a great variety of wonderful family treasures, portraits, photographs and memorabilia. Above all, Palace House remains a much loved family home still lived in by the present Lord Montagu and his family. It was one of the first great country houses of England to open its doors to the public back in 1952 and it has a range of attractions which contribute to the great Beaulieu experience:
Beaulieu Abbey was founded in 1204 by Cistercian monks and although much was destroyed at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries during the reign of Henry VIII, there is still much for visitors to see today.
National Motor Museum
The museum dedicated to preserving and promoting motoring history. It has a world
famous collection of vehicles which tell the story of the entire history of motoring and motorcycling on the roads and race tracks of Britain, ranging from family cars to Formula One masterpieces.
So that's it - just five of the many wonderful places around Bournemouth to visit and enjoy. There's plenty more, of course, but they'll have to wait until another time. I hope you find it helpful and informative and I wish you Happy Holidays in Beautiful Bournemouth!
Bournemouth Tourist Information
- Bournemouth Holidays and Tourist Information
Bournemouth's official tourist information site. Find things to do in Bournemouth, hotels & accommodation, what's on, food & drink, areas to visit and outdoor pursuits including Bournemouth beach.
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