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Discover hidden charms

Hidden gems around Bournemouth, Poole and beyond

Everyone knows Bournemouth, Poole and the surrounding areas for the incredible beaches, dramatic coastline and abundance of green spaces to enjoy.

But while the hidden charms of our coastal towns may not be as well-known as our famous landmarks, they form some of the most cherished memories among our students and staff.

Read on to discover a mix of hidden gems, in no particular order, to seek out. Who knows – you might uncover some more as you venture out and about. There really is so much to see and do. 

Explore the Bournemouth and Poole Selfie Wall Trail

Bournemouth and Poole’s picturesque coastline plays host to the Selfie Wall Trail this summer.

This collaboration between seven local artists and Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole Tourism invites you to discover 13 murals from Sandbanks through to Southbourne, so that wherever you are along the coast you can bring some fun and colour to your selfies.

The nine-mile Selfie Wall Trail can be explored via foot (if you fancy a leisurely walk and clocking up your steps) or, for something a bit different, you can hop on and hop off Bournemouth’s land trains.

There are also plenty of beachfront restaurants and cafés, from the Jazz Cafe and The Prom Diner to Bistro On The Beach and Urban Reef.

Get active at Moors Valley Country Park & Forest

Cycling: Through The Forest. Image courtesy of Moors Valley Country Park & Forest.

Head 20 minutes north-east out of Bournemouth and you will come across Moors Valley Country Park & Forest.

Set in over 250 acres of beautiful forest, Moors Valley is the perfect place to get away from it all, taking in the fresh, clean air, and doing as much, or as little, as you wish.

One of the best ways to get around and explore is by bike, following the miles of waymarked routes which take you deep into the forest. If you are looking for adventure and thrills, the challenging bike routes will test your balance and riding skills to traverse and jump.

A visit to Moors Valley will also give you the chance to experience forest life from up high, with the park’s Tree Top Trail and multiple, adrenalin-pumping Go Ape activities. Challenging rope swings, thrilling zip wires and stomach-turning swings; not for the faint-hearted!

And the activities don’t stop there. From an 18-hole golf course, pitch & putt and Footgolf, to Segways, Archery, Hawk Walks and Tai Chi, there really is something for everyone. For a more relaxed vibe, you can also enjoy free Park Yoga sessions every Sunday morning throughout August too.

Sample locally roasted coffee

South Coast Roast in Bournemouth South Coast Roast’s rustic and upcycled decor

If you are a coffee lover, you will be pleased to know that Bournemouth is home to its very own roasted craft coffee, Bad Hand Coffee.

Priding itself on producing its coffee sustainably (with deliveries made by cargo bike and utilising omnidegradable packaging no less), Bad Hand Coffee has been roasting its coffee for over 10 years in the town.

The Bad Hand team supplies over 30 cafés along the South Coast. These include South Coast Roast and Urban Garden in Bournemouth town centre, Bakehouse 24 in Southbourne and Ringwood, The Hungry Bird in Wimborne, and Health Station in Swanage (to name just a few).

Discover Christchurch

Mudeford boats Mudeford Quay at low tide

Just a few miles along the coast from Bournemouth lies Christchurch, a town that offers so much: award-winning beaches, a natural harbour, plenty of green spaces and incredible history.

At the heart of Christchurch lies The Priory, built in the 11th century and reputed to be the longest church in England. It really is worth a visit, taking in the stunning architecture both inside and out. And that's not all  in the grounds of The Priory are a 12th-century castle and Constable House which survive as remains.

If you are looking for thrill-seeking activities, then the waters of Christchurch won’t disappoint. You can try your hand at a variety of watersports including body surfing, paddleboarding, kayaking and even a thrilling rib ride. Or if you are looking for a more laidback vibe, you can take a boat trip from Mudeford Quay or enjoy some time on Christchurch’s sandy beaches, including Avon Beach, Friars Cliff and Steamer Point.

The history of Christchurch also extends to its very own art deco cinema, The Regent Centre, built back in the 1930s. This August, there is also the opportunity to explore areas of The Regent Centre which are normally off-limits including the Dressing Rooms, Projection Box and Lighting and Sound Booths.

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