After my first microgap in the Lake District and my second in Leeds at the back end of 2018, last week it was finally time to embark on my third in collaboration with Visit England (the tourism board here in England): Bournemouth.
Microgap definition: A short break with an itinerary experience, challenge and adventure rich, offering all the developmental and experiential opportunities that a traditional ‘gap year’ would entail but instead – in just a few days. See more about microgaps here.
As ever in planning, the location was completely up for discussion and together with Visit England we decided that for microgap number three, I was to head to Bournemouth located south of London on the English coastline. This is actually somewhere I used to come a lot as a kid as it’s the nearest beach to my family home so I was very excited to head back. What better way to return too, than with my mumma herself?
On Monday morning, with a car filled with belongings and road trip snacks, I picked up mumma and together we headed to the coast to check into our absolutely ridiculous home for the next 3 nights… Bournemouth Beach Lodges.
Bournemouth is an easy to access beach town due to the main train station that sits comfortable walking distance from the centre.
Catch a train from London Waterloo and you can arrive direct to Bournemouth in around 1hr 45 minutes, some trains take a little longer but for ease, London Waterloo is the best station due to the direct line. Trains also run from London Paddington taking an average time of 2hr 19 minutes (there’s around 48 trains on an average weekday) but in this case you’ll have 1-3 changes to get you there.
Otherwise it’s a 2 hour drive (on a clear day) from central London to arrive in Bournemouth which is what I did. I was lucky with the traffic as there was absolutely zero but on a bad day (or a sunny day when everyone in England heads to the coast) you can expect severe delays.
For that reason the train is a great, safe bet but it totally depends on your plans in Bournemouth and if you need a car to get around to your chosen adventures. For my microgap we combined our Bournemouth adventures with ones in Poole too, so having a car was necessary.
I have a feeling a few of you will have made it over here to this blog post just to get a closer look at the insanely beautiful lodges that we stayed in and that I shared photos of live on my adventure last week in Bournemouth. Honestly, I did not want to leave our cosy little beach front home and I wouldn’t hesitate for a second on coming back to them.
There are currently 15 beach huts here on the beach front, each available for hire with another 9 being built due to their increasing popularity. The idyllic Bournemouth beach lodges are, to our advantage, owned by the local council which means they cannot be bought and will continue to be rented out for private hire (to us lot). Happy days.
Bournemouth Beach Lodges really do have everything you need for a cosy weekend away. They are relatively small in size but the space is used so effectively and can sleep up to 6 people (4 adults and 2 children is the max suggestion) with a second floor hosting an additional double and single to the two converting sofas downstairs.
Upon arrival to your lodge you can expect electrics, a bathroom with a hot shower, a fully functioning cooker with pots pans and utensils, a fridge, a tv, fresh bed linen, towels, a deck with a table and chairs and a set of deck chairs. When staying at the lodges you also have bike racks for any bike you have / hire and access to the electric hot plate BBQ’s just in front of the lodges over-looking the beach.
Honestly, if you love the ocean… a getaway doesn’t get much better than this. You couldn’t get closer to the beach if you tried with the location of these lodges. You fall asleep and wake up to the sound of the waves and you have Bournemouth centre a 20 minute walk / 10 minute cycle from your doorstep.
Prepare to fall in love.
Find out more, enquire or book your stay now on the Bournemouth Beach Lodges website here.
Arriving early, ready to make the most of our first day, we dropped our bags and headed straight out to pick up our bikes from Front Bike Hire. We rented the bikes for 3 days because we knew most of our adventure was laid out between Bournemouth town centre and Hengistbury Head, a stretch of the coast which has dedicated bike lanes right along the ocean front. Cycling is honestly a beautiful way to get around whilst you’re down here… it’s scenic, you get some exercise, you can inhale the gorgeous sea air and you don’t have to park up and pay for parking every time you go venture out. Cycling along the seafront is a popular thing to do down here in Bournemouth.
After we picked up our bikes, we cruised into the town centre for a coffee at Flirt (right next to the Upside Down House art installation see here) before heading back through Bournemouth Gardens and to the beach front where we admired the surfers in the waters beneath the pier.
We were blessed with an absolutely gorgeous couple of days of spring sunshine during our microgap which reflected in the amount of people we witnessed in the waters.
Keen to make the most of the sunshine ourselves, we opted for brunch at Urban Reef out on the deck (so many of you recommended this place!) and enjoyed more surfers soaking up the waves as we tucked into our sticky toffee pudding and ice cream looking over Boscombe pier.
We kind of did this in the wrong order because we definitely got carried away with the gorgeous lunch menu and ended up only just about squeezing into our wetsuits ready for a bit of ocean adventure… haha!
Our afternoon activity which ran magically through until sunset was a SUP session guided by the team at Surf Steps. Turning up with just our swimmers underneath our clothes we were kitted out with everything we needed to enjoy our experience on the water. Admittedly sometimes the English waters don’t seem that appealing from the shore, but with a great wetsuit (provided) and a quick dip underwater, you quickly get that zest for adventure running through your veins and it makes for the most exhilarating of adventures.
If you don’t fancy SUPing but still fancy the water, there’s kayaking and surfing too. Or for a little drier an experience with views still over the ocean, you should check out the PierZip zip line from Bournemouth Pier.
Evening meal recommendation: freshen up and head to Arbor Restaurant for dinner. I had their mushroom and lentil roast and it was inSANE. Their vegan and veggie options were unreal. Always the sign of a fantastic chef.
Seeing as we were blessed with the most stunning spring sunshine that saw not a single cloud in the sky during sunrise or sunset, we absolutely made the most out of the mornings in our lodge. From the balcony you can watch a perfect sunrise and sunset which is such a rarity (as is the clear sky) here in England. We rose each morning at 7am with a quick water top up and switch flick-on of the kettle before popping on a jumper and opening the bi-folding doors to reveal the ocean view. These two hours of book reading, breakfast devouring and tea slurping we welcomed were definitely my favourites. Feeling the change of the mysterious cold sea breeze as it blends with the sunshine to a golden warmth cosying over our exposed skin and lighting up the new day is one of my favourite feelings in the world and to have it right by the ocean was a dream.
Peeling ourselves away from our lodges on this particular morning was made a lot easier with the lure of a treatment at Lush Spa in Poole. The Poole spa, located at 29 High Street, is the headquarters and original spa of the legendary Lush Cosmetics collection. I had no idea this spa was here, and please don’t (as I was) be fooled by the ‘spa’ title. This place is a magical cave ready to take you into a Disney fairytale of sensations.
The limited range of treatments have all been meticulously created to provide a wholesome sensory experience from the moment you step inside the fragrant shop just off the harbour in Poole.
My mum and I went for a couples ‘Comforter treatment’ in the same room (available on request) which involved a rolling massage with an exclusive hot chocolate body scrub and lasted 60 minutes.
But seriously, the products and the massage were just a tiny part of the experience. Bold as it may be, this was my favourite spa experience to date and trust me, I’ve been to a few spas now. This justifies the slightly higher price of the treatments, I promise you. Book yourself in!
I know I’m saying a lot of things are amazing in this blog post but I would not say it if I didn’t think it.
Another lunch spot local to the spa in Wareham (en route to our next destination, Monkey World) is this crazy good Salt Pig restaurant.
The beef cut my mum had was SENSATIONAL. It literally melted like butter in our mouths and made me (a pretty much non-meat eater) want to swap dinners. But of course I didn’t because my cheesy, veggie filled deep pan quiche with a choice of two salad sides was too good to give away. See the menu here.
Bear in mind they serve seasonal dishes which change a lot so it’s not that specific, but from my experience and chat I had with the owner, I would have confidence that anything you choose will deliver.
As if our day hadn’t already been blown out of the park with a sunrise breakfast on the beach, the best massage experience of my life and the most wholesome fresh lunch going, we headed for the afternoon to Monkey World to witness the incredible work they do here at the rescue centre.
We were lucky enough to be given a special tour by the leading lady of the educational programme here at Monkey World which gave us a fantastic insight into the many breeds they look after, have rescued and have nurtured since it opened its doors in 1987. Whilst they are not registered as a charity, they rely on the funding of charities, of their gift shop, cafe and of the ticket price so by purchasing admission to the rescue centre, you are directly contributing to funding the incredible work done here.
Alongside the funding mentioned, Monkey World relies on the selfless dedication of their volunteers some of which work full time, some weekly and some monthly. You can stay up to date with opportunities for getting involved on their website or their Facebook page.
Check out my YouTube video which brings to life some of the amazing encounters you can have with these incredibly fascinating and lovable apes. Those of you that saw the Instagram story of my mum and the orangutan will know exactly what I mean!
Evening dinner recommendation: the prawns at WestBeach restaurant, located right on Bournemouth Pier.
Reluctant to pack up our belongings on our day of check out, we tidied up our lodge and soaked up one last morning overlooking the ocean with breakfast and a cup of hot coffee.
The final adventure on our Bournemouth microgap took us west of the lodges over to Hengistbury Head, another location easily accessible with the bikes along the seafront path. The route is flat the entire way aside from right on the last leg where you just need to push the bikes up a little ramp to the final flat section.
Hengistbury Head is often overlooked on an escape to Bournemouth but it absolutely shouldn’t be. Not only is it a stunning nature reserve home to many walks of wildlife, it offers crazy beautiful views over Bournemouth and Christchurch and on a good day (like we had) boasts views over across the Isle of Wight. There’s a coastal path here to enjoy which is no stranger to dog walkers and their pups and also a cafe to warm up with a hot drink and some food in.
After a tour of the wildlife that resides here at Hengistbury Head (definitely coming back to see the Natterjacks in April) Brian (a member of the team here at the Visitors Centre) took mum and I on a beach clean to pick up any debris washed up or left behind on the beautiful beaches here. This is something that as travellers, be it here or any other given destination, we should act more on. Together, if we volunteer even a few minutes of our time instead of turning a blind eye, a huge difference would be made to the rubbish and plastic in the ocean and on the beaches.
Okay one last sensational food recommendation for you to go to from personal experience and it’s The Larder House. Grab the Grocers sharing platter (Spinach & Ricotta Rustici. Roasted Root Vegetables. Pickled Beetroot. Mushroom Arancini. Olive Tapenade. Hummus. Home Baked Breads. Mixed Leaf Salad. Jerez Carrots.) oh and also the aubergine fries. DAYYYUM.
I hope you enjoyed my 3-day microgap here in Bournemouth, I had the most beautiful few days exploring our precious English coastline and it’s got me crazy excited to see more of it in my camper van once I’ve completed the conversion and have it ready for a summer of adventure!
What were your favourite spots? I’d love to know!
Love as always + happy adventuring,
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