How to have a brilliant day out in Mudeford, Dorset

by Jan

Located at the entrance to Christchurch Harbour in Dorset, Mudeford Quay is an idyllic destination and perfect for a day out with the family.

Mudeford Quay is popular with visitors taking the ferry to Mudeford Sands or taking part in watersports in Christchurch Harbour.  The charming quayside is also a hotspot for crab fishing (or crabbing).  Not fisherman, but children!

It is one of the best places to go crabbing in Dorset and top of the things the twins wanted to do in the school holidays.  I was more than happy to go.  We’d been to Mudeford several times during our annual camping trips to Wilksworth Farm in Wimborne, and we’d always had fun.

Mudeford came into existence as an important fishing port, and this is still evident today from the lobster pots and fishing nets scattered around the quay.  However, life here was not always so tranquil.  Several hundred years ago, the local area was rife with smugglers and in 1798 the Battle of Mudeford broke out between the bootleggers and local customs officers.

Luckily, peace has resumed and today Mudeford Quay is glorious on a sunny day.  It’s one of our favourite places to visit in Dorset.  Read on to discover how to have a brilliant day out in Mudeford.

The best things to do at Mudeford

Crabbing at Mudeford Quay

Two boys, Crabbing at Mudeford Quay, Dorset, UK

Our brilliant day out in Mudeford started with catching crabs!

Without a doubt, crabbing is at the top of our list of things to do in Mudeford Quay.  You have to try it to believe how much fun it is.  The kids just love it.

If you don’t have children, you could skip this one, but rest assured, you wouldn’t be the only adult trying their hand at catching crabs!

As seasoned crabbers, we have our own equipment, but you can buy your equipment in Mudeford.

Two boys looking over their buckets whilst crabbing at Mudeford Quay, Christchurch, Dorset, UK

All you need is a bucket, a line, a net, and some bait, and then you’re ready to go.  Pick your spot at the edge of the quay and you’ll soon have the crabs nipping at the bait.

It’s easy to catch crabs at Mudeford Quay, and when you’re done you can release them back to the water.  Crabbing at Mudeford Quay is so much fun – you really need to give it a try!

One of our other favourite places for crabbing on the South Coast is at the bridge near Milford-on-Sea.

Eating at Mudeford

The Haven House Inn at Mudeford, Dorset, UK

After a busy morning catching crabs, we were ready for lunch.  You’ll find several options for eating at Mudeford, all with a sea view.  However, we always head to The Haven House Inn for fish and chips with a sea view.

Adjacent to the pub is the Haven Café.  Alternatively, wait until you’ve crossed the water and eat at the Beach Café on Mudeford Spit.

Take a ferry to Hengistbury Head

Mudeford ferry, Dorset, UK

One of the most fun things to do with kids at Mudeford is take the passenger ferry from the Quay across to Mudeford Sandbank.  This is the strip of land at the tip of Hengistbury Head.  As you approach the other side, you’ll spot the row of charming beach houses which line the shore.

The ferry runs every 15 minutes, and the trip takes about 10 minutes.  You pay on board, so don’t need to buy tickets in advance.

Ticket prices:  £2 adults and £1 for children (12+)

See the beach huts at Mudeford Sandbank

Beach huts, Mudeford Sandbank, Dorset, UK

Even if you’ve never been to Mudeford Spit, there’s a high chance you’ve heard of its beach huts.  After all, they are famous for being the most expensive beach huts in Britain.  At prices of up to half a million pounds, some cost as much as a house.

The beach huts are not particularly big, or luxurious, but they are picture postcard pretty.  More importantly, they have an enviable location, with no access from cars.

To one side you have a golden sandy beach backed by sand dunes and to the other, Hengistbury Head.  Hengistbury is the natural spit which separates the sea from Christchurch Harbour.

Do a circular walk at Hengistbury Head

Nature reserve at Hengistbury Head, Dorset, UK

To get a real taste for Hengistbury Head, I recommend doing a circular walk to the Visitor Centre.

With its diverse variety of habitat Hengistbury Head is an important nature reserve.  For nature lovers, there are many unusual species of flora and fauna to observe.  It’s also a cross-channel migratory point, so you may spot birds resting on their travels.  Or listen for the call of a natterjack toad from one of the ponds!

The path from Mudeford Spit leads up to a viewpoint at Warren Hill.  From here you’ll get views across the Bournemouth beaches and Christchurch Harbour.  You can then walk down to the Visitor Centre, where you’ll find a small wildlife garden and a gift shop.

Of course, for the best day out in Mudeford, you need to stop for an ice-cream.  So, afterwards we headed next door to Hiker Café for ice-cream and refreshments.

If you don’t fancy walking, the land train runs from near the ferry terminal to behind the Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre.

Hit the beach

Beach huts on Mudeford Spit (near Christchurch) Dorset, UK

A visit to Mudeford wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the beach.  You can stop at one of the golden beaches on Mudeford Sandbanks, but we returned on the ferry for a visit to Avon Beach.

Just a short walk from Mudeford Quay, Avon Beach is one of Dorset’s award-winning beaches.  It has a safe swimming zone with lifeguards.  It is mostly sandy, with some gravel, so it’s best to take water shoes..

If you’re looking for something to eat, the Noisy Lobster specialises in Great British Seafood.  The restaurant overlooks Avon beach and has food to eat in or take-away.

Other things to do at Mudeford

Fishing pots, Mudeford, Dorset, UK
  • Have fun in the adventure playground
  • Enjoy some watersports in Christchurch Harbour (Shoresports)
  • Walk to Highcliffe Castle (1 mile)
  • Take a mackarel fishing trip from the Quay

We hope this helps plan your own brilliant day out in Mudeford?  We’d love to hear your questions or comments.

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