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Dorset walk around Bournemouth

PUBLISHED: 14:39 17 August 2015 | UPDATED: 14:39 17 August 2015

The Lower Gardens

The Lower Gardens


Beardsley and Wilde,Tolkien and Shelley, are just some of the famous former Bournemouth residents you discover on Edward Griffiths’ urban walk through this seaside resort

Henry Joy's Arcade in Gervis PlaceHenry Joy's Arcade in Gervis Place

Did you know, there’s only one street in Bournemouth? And this walk finds it, and takes you behind Bournemouth’s modern seafront, with its shops and offices to the roads and buildings which were familiar to this seaside resorts famous visitors such as Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley, and residents including the Shelleys, Tolkien and Field Marshall Montgomery.



• Distance: 4 miles (6.5 km)

• Time: 3½ hours

• Exertion: Built on hills above the Bourne Stream, Bournemouth’s centre may be considered quite strenuous

• Start: Bournemouth Pier Approach (Grid Ref: SZ089907)

• Map: OS Landranger Sheet 195

• Public Transport: Yellow Buses 1a, 3, 4a, 4b, 4c, 5a, 5b, 6, N6, 21, 33

• Dogs: On leads at all times in the town

• Refreshments: There’s a wealth of cafés, restaurants and hotels for coffee, lunches or Dorset cream teas!


The Walk

1 From the Pier Approach, go up the steps before Harry Ramsden’s to East Cliff Slope. Walk up past the car park and the Royal Bath Hotel, built as East Cliff Hall by Mr and Mrs Merton Russell-Cotes and opened as a hotel in 1838. Pass Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Musuem, built by then Sir Merton Russell-Cotes in 1894, to East Overcliff Drive. Keep straight on. Pass Hotel Miramar where J R R Tolkien was a regular visitor. Past the Cliff Lift, see the memorial to Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging, the Red Arrows pilot who tragically crashed on returning from the 2011 Bournemouth Air Festival. Turn left into Gervis Road with right Carlton Hotel where Field Marshall Montgomery lived after the Second World War.

2 Cross Grove Road with the Victorian 1866 post-box. Cross Gervis Road at the roundabout. Cross the pedestrian crossing over Bath Road. Cross Old Christchurch Road and walk up Lansdowne Crescent into Lansdowne Road. In 100 yards, turn left at Madeira Road roundabout. Pass the old Police Station left and the new modern complex right. Pass left Stafford Road with colourful ‘Madeira Car Park’ opposite. and pass ‘Arts University Bournemouth’. In 100 yards, take the right stepped-path into Horseshoe Common, a preserved area of common land. At the crossing, turn left then fork right to Old Christchurch Road and Dean Park Crescent corner. Continue down Old Christchurch Road between shops. Richmond Gardens Shopping Centre was formerly Dalkeith Hotel and, before that, coaching entrepreneur Henry Laidlaw’s home which has retained its impressive Victorian façade.

3 Go left through Burlington Arcade. Into St Peter’s Road. Turn right and cross over. Past the Mary Shelley plaque, continue around the corner into Hinton Road. Go into St Peter’s churchyard, built in 1843. Gladstone took his last communion here in 1898. Walk past the church’s south wall and up the steps to the family vault of Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, who died in 1851; the vault also reputedly contains the heart of her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, saved from his funeral pyre at Spezzia in Italy. Bournemouth’s founder, Lewis Tregonwell, is buried one flight higher up the steps. Returning to Hinton Road, cross into Gervis Place with Beale’s store right, before their original 1887 date-stone. Past The Arcade, completed by Henry Joy in 1873, turn left into Westover Road, Bournemouth’s first residential road of smart terrace houses.

4 Continue to The Pavilion theatre, opened in 1929, and built on the site of the early Belle Vue Hotel. Turn right onto the Pavilion’s terrace. Go down every flight of steps and across the Bourne Stream into Lower Gardens. Turn right and right again over the stream onto the rising path which formerly provided a place where infirm residents in black three-wheeled carriages could enjoy the sea air, hence it was named ‘Invalid Walk’. After the bandstand and before the fork, take the left stream bridge into the gardens and turn right. Continue past the Balloon to the crossing into The Square. Keeping left past Debenham’s, formerly Bobby’s, walk up pedestrianised Commercial Road. In 200 yards, take left Orchard Street passage/road, Bournemouth’s only street. At the top, turn left in Terrace Road.

5 Down to the lights, turn left into Exeter Road where a plaque and mosaic mark the spot where avant-garde artist Aubrey Beardsley had rooms in a residence called ‘Muriel’ in 1897. Sadly, he died of tuberculosis in 1898 in Menton. Cross Exeter Road and walk up to the pedestrian crossing. Cross into Cranborne Gardens where a car park through the left trees marks the site of the original 1877 Crystal Palace-style Winter Gardens and its 1929 Art Deco successor. Reaching Tregonwell Road, turn right to Upper Terrace roundabout. Veer left down to Commercial Road pedestrian crossing. Over, turn left up to The Triangle. Cross over and turn right down to the road fork with The Library right. Go left past Avenue Road Car Park and take the immediate right stepped path down into Middle Gardens.

6 Cross Bourne Stream near the tennis courts and turn right. Visit the War Memorial before ascending the steps into Bourne Avenue with Bournemouth Town Hall, back in 1885 this was the Mont Dore Hotel and Spa, facing. Cross into the Town Hall grounds and follow the path past it to the far steps. Up into St Stephen’s Road, turn right over the 1921 bridge. Continue past the T-junction and up past right Central Mosque to Richmond Hill. On the opposite Yelverton Road corner is ornate Granville Chambers, formerly a temperance hotel. Facing you is Bournemouth Echo’s fine 1934 Art Deco building. Turn right past elegant Norfolk Royale Hotel where famous guests have included rock star David Essex and the singer Dame Shirley Bassey. Cross to Albert Road with the Oratory of the Sacred Heart, opened 1875, on the corner. Here Aubrey Beardsley was accepted into the Catholic Church in 1898.

7 Down Albert Road, the building with classical pilasters was the 1882 Theatre Royal where Oscar Wilde delivered an address entitled ‘The House Beautiful’ in 1883. Returning to Richmond Hill, continue down into The Square and back into Lower Gardens. Past the Balloon, turn right at the crossing up into Exeter Crescent. Past the car park, reach Exeter Road again. Turn left up to Bournemouth International Centre roundabout. Pass the Royal Exeter hotel, formerly The Mansion, Bournemouth’s first residence, occupied by former Dorset Dragoons Captain Lewis Tregonwell and Henrietta on 24 April 1812. Continue down past the Bournemouth International Centre or BIC where there’s a statue of Tregonwell in the Lower Gardens, to the Pier Approach where you started.



10 reasons to love Bournemouth - Recently voted the country’s best coastal resort by the British public, Bournemouth has plenty to offer, from hip boutiques and surfing to award-winning gardens and fine dining - not to mention seven miles of golden sands

Tiien Thai in Bournemouth - restaurant review - This Bournemouth restaurant excels at balancing the subtle flavours, aromatic spices and varying heat of authentic Thai cuisine, as John Billington discovers


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