A gorgeous paddle through marshland wildlife reserves – with views of Christchurch Priory at the Western end. Mudeford sandbank reasonably famous for its exclusive beach-huts provides an outstanding beach day with the seaward beaches both safe and uncrowded (accessed only by water, 1.5 mile walk/bike ride or land train.
How to get there:
Mudeford Quay – satnav – BH23 4AB (Haven Inn)
Mayors Mead car park – satnav – BH23 1HU (Captains Club Hotel – turn left as Wick Lane bears right)
Christchurch Town Hall – satnav – BH23 1AZ
Parking at Mayors Mead car park, (Wick Lane) with public slipway in Christchurch (western extreme) Public toilets or Mudeford Quay, Mudeford with harbourside slipway or access across the green (eastern extreme) Cafe, pub, beach shop and public toilets. Both pay and display.
Also public slipway on River Avon with Pay and Display parking at Christchurch Town Hall (adjacent) Public Toilets.
Very fast currents in “The Run” (harbour entrance) between the Mudeford sandbank and Mudeford Quay – navigable safely if you know the local geography and conditions otherwise best avoided. (Sea is best accessed by carrying your boat across the sandbank, stunning and quiet beaches the other side. Main channel is busy in high summer and weekend low tides but you should be able to find paddleable depth outside of channel (marked by red and green buoys) .
Other significant recreational users are 3 x sailing clubs and 2 x rowing clubs – all pretty savvy in terms of their shared use of the water but these are racing craft so will(a) be travelling at speed quietly (b) likely to have immediate line of sight obscured (uncoxed rowing boats are travelling face to rear).
Winter currents strong in channel and in river – ok for confident paddlers but not for children/novices.
Anglers use the river banks and harbour beaches when the harbour is quiet and from the odd moored boat. Not normally and issue but best to keep a castable distance between you an them if you are sensitive to colourful language.
Ins and Outs:
Slipway at Iford Bridge – limited on road parking, long way from harbour proper
Slipway at Town Hall – see facilities
Mayors Mead car park – public slipway upstream from harbour
Mudeford Quay car park – near harbour entrance
Small tidal estuary protected from the sea by Hengistbury Head, (ancient monument/nature reserve). Shallow out of the main channel so reasonably safe. Up river route flanked by nature reserves and local beauty spots. Navigable for about 4 or 5 miles on River Stour to Iford (Bournemouth.Christchurch boundary).