Seventy at Seventy

Life Begins at 70

[23] Beside the Seaside

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[23] Beside the Seaside – a Blog about a Visit to Bournemouth

We go to Bournemouth for a few days every winter. It’s basically a Bridge holiday and we play cards in the afternoon and evening but we also have time to see some of the sights.

Although it’s a nice location and a pleasant hotel on the clifftops we don’t normally get good weather. This year was particularly dismal but that didn’t stop us getting out.



I am going to take things more or less in chronological order so I will start with the journey there. It was a Sunday afternoon and while almost everyone else took a coach trip from Cheltenham Bridge Club we took a more leisurely drive avoiding the motorways. We stopped at Salisbury and parked quite near to the centre.

Salisbury is an old town. It dates from the early Thirteenth Century with its city charter in 1227, following Neolithic and Roman settlements at Old Sarum, just a mile or two away. You can still see many old buildings in the city.


We headed for the Anglican Salisbury Cathedral, formerly the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, built in the years 1220-58. It has the tallest spire in Britain, the largest cloister and the largest cathedral close (and the World’s oldest clock, which we will come to later.)

In many ways it is typical of English Cathedrals with its ornate statues outside, decorated windows and plaques with armorial bearings.

It still had a Nativity scene as the church continues to celebrate Christmas until its next significant period of Lent.

The Cathedral was the burial site for Edward Heath, (1916-2005) Prime Minister from 1970 to 1974. He lived in the Cathedral Close for the last twenty years of his life.


This large iron-framed clock without a dial located in the aisle of Salisbury Cathedral supposedly dates from about 1386, and it is claimed to be the oldest working clock in the world. Several other clocks make similar claims and it is not certain that this is actually the 1386 clock. Most of the parts of the striking train are believed to be original but it has undergone extensive restoration in 1956.

As mentioned earlier, here is a view of the Cloister with its impressive yew trees.


Our Hotel

We arrived on Sunday afternoon, checked out the facilities, had our evening meal and played Bridge. The weather was too miserable to venture outside.

The next morning is was still wet and misty. From our window we could see just as far as the cliff tops. It was mostly mist rather than rain so we set off outside after breakfast through the hotel gardens.

A pair of crows were too busy searching for food to notice me. They are usually very wary and difficult to photograph.

(I am not sure how much of the poor quality here is attributable to the mist. I have adjusted the contrast a bit.)

There used to be a large house next to the hotel. It looked as if it had been knocked down with no immediate decision as to what to do with the ‘development opportunity.’

Here is the front of the hotel in the mist.

Walk to Boscombe

We know by now that the walk to the nearby town of Boscombe is always worth doing. Just a few yards from the hotel we crossed the road for our descent to the sea.

If you look closely the map shows the way to Boscombe and the inset shows the zig-zag path down to the beach. It was quite a long way down – passing some gorse bushes already in flower.

At the bottom we could see the sand with groynes all along the beach. The edge of the sea was just about visible in the mist.

Sadly these iconic beach-huts were also obscured by mist.

We walked along the little road by the beach. (‘Promenade’ would be too grand a title for this section of the way.)

The East Cliff Lift, currently out of action, was also enveloped in mist.

There were some gulls and one or two oystercatchers. I took some relatively murky pictures in the misty conditions. This is my best one, doctored a bit.

By walking on to the beach we could actually see some breaking waves.

It won’t surprise you to know that I took some pictures of the sandy surface.

Along the walk were several of these constructions for outdoor physical exercises. We didn’t try them out.

Grey wagtails are well-known for their affinity to running water but at the sea edge Pied Wagtails are more common. This one allowed me to get surprisingly close. Perhaps I was hidden in the mist. I did also spot some Turnstone nearer the water but these were too far away for even murky pictures.

Boscombe Pier

The pier was just visible as we approached it. We walked up and down for some equally misty views of the sea and Boscombe.

The sun was trying to come out as it reflected on the sea.

I have studied birds for about ten years since retiring and can identify most common birds but juvenile gulls are difficult. When this one grows up it will be a Herring Gull or a Lesser Black-backed Gull (LBBG) but I have no idea how to tell young ones apart!


(Just beyond the pier we stopped at the Reef café as we always do – excellent coffee and pastries, free Wi-Fi, but no pictures.)

Boscombe Chine

A ‘chine’ is a deep-side valley, often without a river, but the term in the UK is limited to a section of the South Coast (and the Isle of Wight.) There are several West of Bournemouth but the one at Boscombe to its East is an excellent example. We always walk through it before returning to our hotel.

There were pipes and construction work along the bottom of the valley so we skirted round on the higher paths.

We returned to the hotel by the road at the top of the cliffs.


The River Bourne

Tuesday was another misty day but we went for another walk. It was just a few yards on the sloping path down to the beach to the Russell-Cotes Museum.

We usually fit in a visit to the museum but not this year. The £6:00 charge where it used to be free may have had something to do with our decisions.

Here are two of the many little sculptures on the railings outside as we walked down to the town.

The Pier was more visible as we approached and we moved through the gardens.

We just followed the river upstream. It was more or less a partly drained swampy area with some features – a Japanese bridge and a tower.

Much of it was still very wet with boardwalks for walkers.

We came as far as the Coy Pond, a small lake by more formal gardens.

Resident birds included some Muscovy ducks, sleeping on a central island, and some Mallards more willing to pose for pictures.

It’s called the Coy Pond because it used to be a Decoy. You will remember decoys from my blog about Slimbridge.

Of course that was only half of our walk but the return journey covered almost the same path.



Another misty start to the day.

We walked into town and waited for a bus.

Below us in the gardens there was a Lesser Black-backed Gull, unusual in an area where Herring Gulls are common.

We took the bus to the peninsular of Sandbanks jutting out into Pool Harbour, just about the most expensive place to live in the UK. Unfortunately we did not have time to explore this huge harbour but we had a brief glimpse of a small part of it.

We crossed the narrow isthmus to the South side and walked back along the beach towards Bournemouth. Visibility was now good. We could see sand, sea, waves and sometimes cliffs.

We passed gorse and heather before coming to a café where we stopped.

After a light snack at the café we resisted the temptation for an ice-cream.

After more sand and sea we passed the western lift and approached Bournemouth and its pier.

It was our last day and the weather was becoming much better. I will end with views from out hotel window taken later that day. You can compare them with the views when we arrived!



Author: Alan

Retired, currently living in Cheltenham.

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