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What to do in our area

* Beach Life Relax on the safe and award winning beaches. (Highcliffe Castle beach allows dogs all year around - almost unique in this area.) Here are a few pictures.

* Walking or cycling In addition to our own beaches and paths, the New Forest is on our doorstep, and is perfect for cycling, walking, or simply visiting.
Cycle hire is available from many places in the Forest, including from Adventure Cycles, 97 Station Road, New Milton 01425-615960
To find out more about the New Forest, check out the many websites on the links page.

* Sightseeing Our area of the South Coast has a huge range of things and places to see and visit, and is in easy reach of many more. The list is endless, but here is a taster:
Hengistbury Head - inhabited by man for at least 12,000 years
Christchurch - historical town, going back to Saxon times
Highcliffe Castle - grade 1 listed building, and always something going on there
Hurst Castle - one of Henry VIII's coastal forts. Either take a boat, or walk along Hurst Spit
Museum of Electricity - MUCH more interesting than it sounds
Aviation Museum - at Hurn Airport (or Bournemouth International, as they like to call it)
Beaulieu - world famous motor museum, Palace House, Beaulieu Abbey
Motorcycle Museum - Sammy Miller's excellent museum
Red House Museum - in Christchurch, with lovely gardens as well
Christchurch Priory - ancient, and rightly famous worldwide
Exbury Gardens - got to be visited if you are interested in gardens
Buckler's Hard - see how shipwrights and their families lived in Nelson's times
Dorset Belles - go cruising the River Stour from Christchurch
There is a lot more besides - come and explore

* Scenery The views across Christchurch bay in any direction are spectacular (see the PICTURES page for a taste)
To the South are the Needles at the Western end of The Isle of Wight
To the East is the dramatic Hurst Spit, with Hurst Castle perched on it's tip
To the West is Hengistbury Head, with the Purbeck Hills looming in the distance.
Just inland is the New Forest, with all it's wonderful deep forests and open heathland
There are 16 nature reserves, wildlife sites, and SSSIs in the area, including several right in and around the village.
Steamer Point Nature Reserve, 32 acres of woodland, concentrates on conservation and habitat restoration. It has an Information centre, clifftop views, and picnic areas.
Nearby  Stanpit Marsh (yet another local SSSI) is 150 acres of wetland adjacent to the Harbour. Bird watchers in particular will see a range of bird life rarely equalled.
Mude Valley Nature Reserve is a woodland corridor along the River Mude, and forms a barrier between the industrial and residential areas of the Airfield Estate.

Check out all the details at the Council's countryside website.
Mudeford Quay is worth a visit, with views across Christchurch Harbour, the Bay, and Mudeford Sandbank
And of course, our own unspoiled cliffs and beaches are a joy in themselves
To really appreciate the area, you need to come and see for yourselves

* Fishing There are all kinds of fishing available locally.
Rivers Avon and Stour. Permits, and lots of local information and expertise, from Davis Tackle Bargates, Christchurch, 01202 485169. Or go to their website, or email them.
Davis Tackle also run a site about the Royalty Fishery, which gives diabled access to the Avon.

Christchurch Angling Club also have loads of local knowledge and information.
Right in the village, we have the lake at Nea Meadows, and Mudeford Wood Lake is very close by. Permits available from Christchurch Angling Club, 01425 279710. Their website gives plenty of information about fishing in this area - excellent site.
There are also many other freshwater sites in the area. For example:
Winkton Fishery - 01202 485169
Avon Tyrell Lakes - 01425 672347
Orchard Lakes - 01425 612404
There are lots of others in the New Forest area
There is the unique Run at Mudeford, a narrow tidal channel running in and out Christchurch Harbour, where large numbers of both sea and fresh water feed together, giving the opportunity to fish for such species as bass, sea trout, mullet, and flounder, at the same time as roach, dace, and bream. Again, contact Davis Tackle for more details and advice.
Sea fishing is of course a major attraction for fishermen. You can fish from the beach, and there are several companies and individuals offering fishing trips by boat in the area, including:
  • Mudeford Quay. (From the Fish Stall)
  • Bill Foster (out of Christchurch) 01202-473458
  • Tim Doswell (out of Keyhaven on The Ocean Lass) 01425 620057 or 07944 660889.
    See his website for all the details www.keyhavencharters.co.uk
  • Ray Pitt (out of Keyhaven) 01425-612896.
    See their website for all the details www.raypittseafishing.co.uk
  • Puffin Cruises (Lymington Quay 01590-644004)
  • M Cottingham (out of Lymington) 01425-619358

* Fossil hunting The soft cliffs to the East of the village are famous for their fossils from the Eocene period (40 million years ago). The area is a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) which means that they are protected by law, and you cannot actually dig for them. Don't be deterred though, they are easy to find laying on the surface, as they get eroded from the soft cliffs by rain and sea. There are many web sites with information on this subject, for example, Dr Ian West's superb pages.
This is the UK Fossils Info (Hampshire) website.
There is also a wealth of information on the site owned by a regular visitors from Germany, the Dykes Family.

* Sailing Our location ensures that sailing is a very popular pastime and sport in the area. Lymington, Christchurch, Keyhaven, are popular centres, but just about every village have clubs, and Highcliffe is no exception. Contact Highcliffe Sailing Club for more information, on 01202- 484230, or see their website.
You can also charter Christchurch Yatching's 32 foot, 6 berth yatch. A full range of services available. From novice to expert; from captained to bareboat; from a few hours (perhaps an evening) to a whole weekend; for corporate or private charter - see their website.

Avonmouth Watersports (formerly Christchurch sailing Centre) offer tuition and hire.

* Boating Bournemouth Boating Services, based at Tuckton, have a range of options for both adults and children. My favourites are the vintage United Ferry, which you can ride out to Mudeford Sandbank, and the self-drive motor boats, which allow you to boat up the River Stour, or around the Harbour. Their tearooms are a well known watering hole as well.
To see all their services, see their website.

* Other watersports With our beautiful safe beaches, great climate,and seas warmed by the effects of the Gulf Stream, messing about on and in the water is extremely popular, and visitors are well catered for. There are areas designated for sail boarders, for skiers, and for jet skiers. CrazyWater in the village is a good friendly place for more local infomation. See the PLAN for their location. You can also email them.
You can learn to boardsail locally, including with South Coast Windsurfing, who not only will teach you, but will arrange accomodation if required. Why not spend a couple of days with them. Learn to sail with expert tuition, and have some social fun as well.
How about an exhilarating high speed trip around the Bay?
Rib Charter Solent have everything from exciting RIB trips, and luxury motor boats, to sailboards. See their website www.ribchartersolent.co.uk
The local boardsailing club is the Christchurch Windsurfing Club, based at Steamer Point. This club is well known in UK windsurfing circles, and host many UK championship events. See their website www.christchurchwindsurfingclub.co.uk
There a couple of rowing clubs, including one based in Highcliffe. No website, but you can phone 01425 278639. Christchurch Rowing Club has a website.
Diving is also popular in the area, but unfortunately our local dive school has moved out of the area. The SubAqua UK website lists all clubs in Dorset and Hampshire.

* Paragliding Our local cliffs, especially at nearby Barton-On-Sea, and Southbourne, are very popular with paragliders, and with the people who gather to watch them.
However, I understand there are local regulations, and flyers should contact Bournemouth ATC (01202-364150) before flying these sites. A lot more information, and local photos, can be seen at the area's club website.
Another useful contact is Flying Frenzy paragliding. See their webpage, or email them.

* Golf There are several golf courses in the area, including Highcliffe Castle Golf Club

* Ski slopes It's true! The Christchurch Ski Centre is Britain's Number 1. They also have an Alpine Adventure Park, and much more besides.

* Ferries We are surrounded by ferries, both large and small, and even the locals use them - often just for the pleasure of it.
See the Useful links page for details of the big companies, like the cross channel ferries from Poole and Portsmouth, and to the Isle of Wight.
But we also have the following small local ferries:
Christchurch Quay to Mudeford and Mudeford Sandbank
Mudeford Quay to Mudeford Sandbank (see more details below)
The Wick Ferry - reputedly one of the oldest in the country, across the River Stour between Christchurch and Wick.
  • Mudeford Quay to Mudeford Sandbank - Derham Marine, 07968 334441. See their website for information about their services, including many cruises - well worth a look. They also organise special trips, including 'scattering of ashes'.
  • Christchurch Quay, Tuckton Bridge, Wick ferry, Mudeford Sandbank - Bournemouth Boating Services, 01202 429119. Wick ferry is one of the oldest running ferriy services in Britain.
  • Puffin Cruises, operating from Lymington Quay. Regular cruises, both sea and river, plus special events.
  • Keyhaven, Hurst Castle, Yarmouth, cruises - Hurst Castle Ferries, website, 01590 642500

* Shopping See the SHOPPING page for the wide range of outlets in Highcliffe village, and elsewhere in the area. See the PLAN of Highcliffe High Street

* Eating and drinking The area spoils you for choice. See the Eating Out page, and the Pubs and Bars page. As you would expect, most of the pubs also provide food, and many have their own restaurants. In particular, look out for local seafood.

* Going out See the What's On page for activities in the village.
The Borough Council tourist website, and the Daily Echo Going Out site, are both good places to see what's going on in a wider area, and if you're interested in live music of any kind, the Livewire site is a must see.

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