We decided to drive to Salisbury, the journey taking approximately one hour. We noticed signs for Park and Ride but carried on and found car parking in the town centre without problem even though it was a Saturday. The city is located in south east Wiltshire on the edge of Salisbury Plain and 8 miles from the world famous Stonehenge UNESCO site.
Dominating the city, Salisbury Cathedral completed in 1258 has the tallest spire in the United Kingdom at 123 m tall. Cathedral Close, the lawned parkland area surrounding the church features period houses which are home to the Bishop and clergy whilst others are privately owned, one being the previous home of the former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath.
From the cathedral, an ornate archway retaining its heavy oak gates leads into the attractive town centre with its ancient old buildings. Narrow roads lead to the market square where the large Charter Market takes place every Tuesday and Saturday which was bustling with activity on our visit. Salisbury is a delightful place to wander around, the National Trust have an attractive gift shop there in addition to several other interesting small shops alongside the usual high street names. After enjoying lunch in the King’s Head pub we returned to Bournemouth mid afternoon.
Our final day in Dorset so we decided to travel the short distance to Hengistbury Head, a nature reserve just beyond Southbourne. It’s part of the Christchurch Harbour Site of Special Scientific Interest. There is a large car park by the entrance to the nature trail. The trail extends two miles along Christchurch harbour out onto the Mudeford Spit. Here can be found some of the most expensive beach huts in the country, some costing more than £200,000.
These beach huts do not even have water, electricity or bathrooms but during the summer months they can be slept in overnight. Walking along, it’s fun to glance inside some of the beach huts as owners are really into ‘seaside chic’ interior design and making splendid use of compact space. Vehicles are not allowed on the Spit so one either has to arrive on foot, take the ferry or use the land train. On a sunny day the views are stunning over the harbour and out to sea, unfortunately it was a dull, grey morning so my photos don’t do it justice. There’s a very pleasant cafe/bistro The Beach House which is open at weekends in winter and each day during the summer months. Its sister cafe ‘The Boat House’ is across the bay on Christchurch Quay and open all year.
Walking back to the car, my husband spotted egrets and cormorants and a board outside the visitor centre lists recent sightings of wildlife in the reserve. Inside, the modern visitor centre has some interesting displays and we enjoyed looking around, there was even a webcam link to nesting herons which was fun to observe. Feeling very windswept, we returned to the car park and made our way back home after a pleasant winter week on the Dorset coast.
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