CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Dorset Magazine today CLICK HERE

A ramble around Mudeford and Christchurch Airfield

PUBLISHED: 10:24 16 April 2018

Walking along Mudeford Beach path to Avon Beach

Walking along Mudeford Beach path to Avon Beach


Edward Griffiths reveals the important role this area played in the air battles of the Second World War

The Mude River rises in Hampshire and slowly meanders to Christchurch Harbour and the sea beyond. This enjoyable walk takes you along the beach before finding Mude Valley Greenway which we follow inland along the eastern edge of Christchurch Airfield, a location which played a vital role in building and flying legendary aircraft in World War II.

The Walk

1. Follow the harbour’s safety-rails east. Continue along the concrete sea-defences path, then along the beach to Avon Beach car park. Turn onto the road. Pass right Robins Lane. Past right Bure Lane on the bend, take right Falcon Drive, signed ‘Somerford 1¼’ cycleway. Take next left Raven Way cycleway. Pass right Merlin Road. After right Peregrine Road, take the right unsigned footpath into Peregrine Wood. Meander through alongside Mude River left. Exiting into De Havilland Way, cross into the opposite path. Continue through open space then along the left wall with right woods into another open space. In 50 yards, at a fork, take the lesser path into the right wood.

Peregrine WoodPeregrine Wood

2. Cross the ‘Cycleway 2’ bridge over the Mude and meander to a fork. Go left for ‘Somerford ½’. In 30 yards, pass a right WWII pill-box, defending Christchurch Airfield. Emerging into Mudeford Community Centre sports field, continue along the path with left trees. Pass the right Community Centre, Pipers Drive and tennis courts and continue for ‘Somerford ¼’ through grass and trees. In ¼ mile, exit into Somerford Road, with the roundabout right. Roads entering old Christchurch Airfield are ¼ mile to your left, but now is Industrial Estates and Meteor Shopping Park.

3. Now, cross Somerford Road on the crossing. Cross the corner to the footbridge and cross Christchurch by-pass. Down the steps, follow the path between Sainsbury’s and the by-pass, becoming Watery Lane, hedged both sides and getting quieter. Reaching a T-junction, go left across the Mude River into hedged Ambury Lane. There are plans to build 875 houses on these fields. At the far end, with old pines left along the by-pass, reach right electricity pylon.

4. Cross the grass triangle, passing right Staple Cross base. Cross Salisbury Road. Past right Staple Cross Farm cottage, cross the by-pass footbridge. Over, turn right. Into Burton Road, turn left. Past left Everest Road, take next left, still Burton Road. Pass left Redvers Road. Keep straight on with left houses, and pass Purewell Meadows Nature Reserve right. Meeting Purewell Cross Road, turn left and cross into Stanpit, beyond the roundabout, by using the pedestrian crossings.

Stanpit Marsh from the harbourside footpathStanpit Marsh from the harbourside footpath

5. Walk along Stanpit, passing the Ship in Distress restaurant, Stanpit Marsh car park, and Tutton’s Well. After left Victoria Road, take the right ‘Public Footpath’ through the wire fence’s gap. Follow the path along the harbour’s edge. Take first left un-signed Argyle Road, with a footpath-sign pointing ahead, back into Stanpit with recreation grounds opposite. Turn right. Past the Nelson Tavern and Harbour Hotel, with All Saints’ Church opposite, the road becomes Mudeford Lane. Past left Avonmouth Bakery Café, fork right into ‘Mudeford’ leading back into Mudeford Quay car park where you started.

The important role played by Christchurch Airfield

During the Second World War Christchurch Airfield, an RAF Station with a 2,400ft grass runway, was used by the Airspeed factory for aircraft production, beginning with twin-engine ‘Oxford’ training aircraft from August 1942. They also designed and built 1500 Horsa gliders which were used in the D-Day landings on 6th June 1944, the following offensive and the Rhine crossings. Airspeed also converted 160 Spitfires into naval Seafires.

Staple Cross and Staple Cross FarmStaple Cross and Staple Cross Farm

In preparation for use as an American USAAF base before D-Day, a 4,800ft wire-mesh landing strip was installed, and American fighter-bomber pilots flew Mustangs and Thunderbolts from here by February 1944, sharing pre-invasion sorties with British Whirlwinds, Typhoons, Hurricanes and Spitfires.

The RAF Station closed in January 1946, when the Ministry of Aircraft Production assumed control. Airspeed then built de Havilland Mosquitos until February 1948, and produced parts for the de Havilland Vampire jet, the first jet to fly the Atlantic. In 1951, Airspeed merged with de Havilland and built the first of 140 Vampire trainers, followed by Venoms and Sea Venoms. In the late 1950s, they produced 118 Sea Vixens, but by this stage Christchurch Council were becoming concerned with the noise of jets and initiated closure of the Airspeed factory in 1962.

Christchurch Airfield formally closed in 1964, the land being used for housing and the industrial estates. A Sea Vixen XJ580 was purchased to mark the airfield site entrance in Somerford Road where a plaque used to read ‘This aircraft is a tribute to the aviation history of Christchurch 1932-1962’. Sadly, the Sea Vixen has now gone. Just the four concrete bases remain.

Distance: 4½miles

(7.25 km)

Time: 3 hours

Exertion: Easy level walking. Some mud in woods.

Start: Mudeford Quay (Grid Ref: SZ185918)

Map: OS Landranger Sheet 195

Public Transport: Wilts and Dorset X1, X2 and Yellow Buses 111

Dogs: On leads on roads

Refreshments: The Noisy Lobster at Avon Beach, and several inns along Stanpit


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Dorset visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Dorset staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Dorset account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Friday, December 7, 2018

This easy walk takes us into Hardy territory as well offering some glorious views towards Weymouth and Portland

Read more
Thursday, November 29, 2018

Here are some Dorset walks, easy and challenging, to get you out and about over the festive period

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

If you’re willing to brave the cold this Christmas Day, check out Dorset’s festive swim calendar for the best organised dips taking place in 2018

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

Confusion reigns on the county’s eastern border

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

From festive light switch-ons and Santa’s Grottos, to German Christmas markets and late-night shopping, we’ve covered what’s on in Dorset this season

Read more
Monday, November 12, 2018

From your first step, you will see superb views from hilltops and farmland footpaths on this walk

Read more
Sunday, November 11, 2018

Martin Clunes and his family have called West Dorset home for over two decades. Here he shares some of their favourite local places

Read more
Monday, November 5, 2018

To mark the centenary of the end of World War One we visit some of the memorials erected across Dorset to remember the fallen in the ‘war to end all wars’

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

This lovely walk takes us from watercress beds to a church famous for its life-size carvings of apostles

Read more
Thursday, October 25, 2018

Autumn is a great time to brush up on your gardening knowledge with the help of some experts, as well as see some well known gardens in a different light

Read more
Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The guide to Dorset’s best firework displays and bonfire events happening in 2018

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Prepare to experience the paranormal this Hallowe’en as Visit Dorset reveals some of the county’s most haunted pubs, stately homes, historic buildings and tanks

Read more
Monday, October 15, 2018

Dorset villages are some of the most beautiful in England – think winding lanes, thatched cottages and a cosy pub or welcoming tea room. We suggest ten of the prettiest villages to visit in the county

Read more
Friday, September 14, 2018

Follow in the footsteps of the Romans on this lovely walk that takes in rare habitat, ancient woodland and glorious views

Read more
A+ South & South West

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search