Photo By Peter Watts
Hengistbury Head
 

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Hengistbury Head - PHOTOGRAPHER COMMENT

A 360 panorama taken from the top of Hengistbury Head in Dorset. The picture shows the spectacular views offered of the surrounding coastline from up here - all the way out to the Isle of Wight and over to Old Harry Rocks. It is a popular walk, even during stormy weather, and often quite windy.

Hengistbury Head - FURTHER INFORMATION

Hengistbury Head - Christchurch visitor guide showing a virtual tour of 'Hengistbury Head' linked to an interactive map with local and travel information. 360° panoramas from Dorset.

Hengistbury Head is an important landmark on the Dorset coast, enclosing the southern half of Christchurch Harbour and forming the beginning of a stretch of beaches extending for miles through Bournemouth Beach all the way to the entrance to Poole Harbour, part of the Bournemouth Coast Path. The headland has a long history, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) rich in wildlife and a popular tourist attraction.

Hengistbury Head Geology: Hengistbury Head lies inclined 3 degrees to the southeast. The geology is clearly exposed in the erroded cliffs on the southern edge, and dates back some 60 million years. At the bottom is a layer of Boscombe Sands, on top of which sit the Lower Hengistbury Beds, about 3 meters of greenish clay-sands. Above this is are 15m the Upper Hengistbury Beds, formed of brown clay sands containing boulders of ironstone. The next, 3m layer, are the wihte sands of the Highcliffe Beds. Above this is about 1m of river deposits, silt and gravel topped by a thin layer of sandy topsoil.

Hengistbury Head (Pre)History: The human love affair with Hengistbury Head dates back to the Stone Age (10,500 BC), when the English Channel would have looked like a large river. During the Bronze Age numerous people were buried here and several barrows have been excavated revealing a rich collection of jewellery ad other artefacts. By the end of the Bronze Age a small village was established on the headland and two defensive banks constructed at the base turning Hengistbury Head into a fortress.

During the Iron Age, Hengistbury Head continued to flourish, defended by the 'double dykes' and grew into an important port. The port declined during Roman rule, who favoured other port sites like Wareham. By the time the Romans left, Hengistbury Head had been abandoned. It was not occupied again, but quarried for ironstone during the 19th century, which has caused significant damage to both the head and surroundings, still felt today.

Hengistbury Head Today: Modern day Hengistbury Head is a popular attraction overlooking Christchurch and Mudeford, drawing about 1 million visitors a year. The spit is lined with expensive beach huts and various paths cross over the head itself, offering stunning views of the surroundings which, on clear days, extend all the way along Highcliffe and over to the Isle of Wight to the east and Old Harry Rocks to the west. A 'Noddy Train' runs from the cafe / restaurant along the headland to the beach on the spit at the end.

It is also home to the Hengistbury Head Research Station, often used by schools for teaching, and also has some water sports. The flat areas around Hengistbury Head are often full of kites on windy days. Visitors are asked to respect the area and keep to paths, reducing erosion and damage to several rare habitats.

TRAVEL DIRECTIONS AND GETTING THERE

Bus: Hengistbury Head Cafe
Car: From Christchurch take the B3059 south and turn left onto Bell Vue Road which runs along to the pay-&-display car park at the end. Free parking available on the approach road. From Bournemouth take the A35 and then B3059 to Bell Vue Road.



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