A walk through Bournemouth Gardens

Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   Text © Copyright February 2008, Chris Downer; licensed for re-use under a Creative Commons Licence.
Images also under a similar Creative Commons Licence.


Introduction


1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright
Bournemouth Gardens run for two miles, following the Bourne Stream as it makes its way from the railway embankment at Branksome, where it emerges from a pipe, to the pier. Only as they reach the town centre for the final part of the journey do they approach ¼ mile wide.



The Gardens are split into four named sections:
The lower part, in the town centre, is naturally the busier section and also the more formal. The farther upstream, the more unspoilt and the less frequently visited.

I offer you to take a trip with me, from the top of the Gardens (actually in the borough of Poole) down to the beach, and enjoy one of the loveliest urban walks in the land.

Coy Pond Gardens (Branksome railway embankment to Branksome Wood Road)


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This is the Gardens at its most unspoilt, and is across the border in the borough of Poole.


The Gardens start with the issue of the Bourne stream from under the railway embankment:
SZ0692 : Coy Pond Gardens: stream issues by Chris Downer SZ0692 : Coy Pond Gardens: the top by Chris Downer SZ0692 : Coy Pond Gardens: top section by Chris Downer

Almost immediately we come across one of the many walkways that provide access from the surrounding roads:
SZ0692 : Coy Pond Gardens: steps to Surrey and Havelock Roads by Chris Downer

The stream continues towards Branksome Wood Road flanked by grass, trees and paths, including a rockery section alongside Coy Pond Road.
SZ0692 : Coy Pond Gardens: stream and willows by Chris Downer SZ0692 : Coy Pond Gardens: small bridge over stream by Chris Downer SZ0692 : Coy Pond Gardens: upstream from bridge by Chris Downer SZ0692 : Coy Pond Gardens: alongside Coy Pond Road by Chris Downer SZ0692 : Coy Pond Gardens: cycle/footbridge by Chris Downer SZ0692 : Coy Pond Gardens: rockery by Chris Downer SZ0692 : Coy Pond Gardens: rockery plaque by Chris Downer SZ0692 : Coy Pond Gardens: looking across to Coy Pond Road by Chris Downer

And then we reach Branksome Wood Road, the first of four roads that actually cross the Gardens.
SZ0692 : Bournemouth Gardens: Branksome Wood Road crossing by Chris Downer

But, just before we cross the road, let’s allow ourselves a little detour and have a look at Coy Pond itself – it is just across Coy Pond Road and therefore somehow seems separate from the Gardens themselves:
1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright

SZ0692 : Poole: Coy Pond (top) by Chris Downer SZ0692 : Poole: Coy Pond issues by Chris Downer SZ0692 : Poole: ducks on Coy Pond by Chris Downer SZ0692 : Poole: Coy Pond and peculiar tree by Chris Downer SZ0692 : Poole: Coy Pond by Chris Downer

Upper Gardens (Branksome Wood Road to Wessex Way)


Branksome Wood Road to Prince of Wales Road

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright to 1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright

The first section of the Upper Gardens continues from Branksome Wood Road, a few yards downstream of which we reach the borough boundary:
SZ0692 : Bournemouth Gardens: borough boundary by Chris Downer

The Gardens very much still retain the earlier unspoilt feel, albeit that the stream is led in a concrete channel to begin with:
SZ0692 : Bournemouth Gardens: concrete channel by Chris Downer SZ0692 : Bournemouth Gardens: first bridge in Bournemouth by Chris Downer SZ0692 : Coy Pond Gardens: some wonky trees by Chris Downer SZ0691 : Bournemouth Gardens: small waterfall by Chris Downer SZ0791 : Bournemouth Gardens: footbridge and steps by Chris Downer SZ0791 : Bournemouth Gardens: camera-shy squirrel by Chris Downer

The part that is less pleasant underfoot has a raised walkway, although tarmac paths continue along both extreme edges of the Gardens:
SZ0791 : Bournemouth Gardens: elevated walkway by Chris Downer SZ0791 : Bournemouth Gardens: start of elevated walkway by Chris Downer SZ0791 : Bournemouth Gardens: second raised walkway by Chris Downer SZ0791 : Bournemouth Gardens: start of raised walkway by Chris Downer SZ0791 : Bournemouth Gardens: walkway passing place by Chris Downer SZ0791 : Bournemouth Gardens: upstream from Prince of Wales Road by Chris Downer

Meanwhile, there are other access points from the neighbouring roads:
SZ0691 : Bournemouth Gardens: steps to Surrey Road by Chris Downer SZ0691 : Bournemouth: footpath № A01 by Chris Downer SZ0791 : Bournemouth: higher footpath to Branksome Wood Road by Chris Downer

We reach the second road that crosses the Gardens, namely Prince of Wales Road:
SZ0791 : Bournemouth Gardens: crossing Prince of Wales Road by Chris Downer

Prince of Wales Road to Wessex Way

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright to 1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright

At Prince of Wales Road we see a sign for the Bourne Valley Greenway:
SZ0791 : Bournemouth Gardens: Prince of Wales Road by Chris Downer
This refers to the path along the southern edge of the Gardens, which is a designated cycleway, part of the local network linking Bournemouth, Poole and the northern suburbs. Towards Coy Pond (upstream from here) the cycleway crosses the river and joins the public road network.

One of the first things we encounter when passing downstream of Prince of Wales Road is the water tower, which was built in 1883:
SZ0791 : Bournemouth Gardens: water tower and footbridge by Chris Downer SZ0791 : Bournemouth Gardens: the water tower by Chris Downer SZ0791 : Bournemouth Gardens: stream and water tower by Chris Downer

After that, the peaceful feel is maintained in this relatively quiet part of the Gardens, before we reach Queen’s Road.
SZ0791 : Bournemouth Gardens: intriguing weir by Chris Downer SZ0791 : Bournemouth Gardens: red bridge reflected by Chris Downer SZ0791 : Bournemouth Gardens: approaching Queen’s Road by Chris Downer SZ0791 : Bournemouth Gardens: Queen’s Road by Chris Downer SZ0791 : Bournemouth Gardens: red footbridge by Chris Downer

Then there is another of those paths connecting the nearby roads:
SZ0791 : Bournemouth Gardens: lower footpath to Branksome Wood Road by Chris Downer

We pass into the last section of the ‘Upper Gardens’, after which we will enter the Central Gardens.
SZ0791 : Bournemouth Gardens: crossing Queen’s Road by Chris Downer SZ0791 : Bournemouth Gardens: upstream from Queen’s Road by Chris Downer SZ0791 : Bournemouth Gardens: daffodils out by Chris Downer SZ0791 : Bournemouth Gardens: litter bin littering by Chris Downer

Central Gardens (Wessex Way to The Square)

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright to 1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright

Since 1973, the Wessex Way, town-centre by-pass, has carried traffic over the Gardens by way of two large bridges since 1973:
SZ0891 : Bournemouth: town centre by-pass by Chris Downer SZ0891 : Bournemouth: by-pass over the Gardens by Chris Downer
This is where the Upper Gardens become the Central Gardens. Bill Bryson, in his Notes from a Small Island notes that the word Pleasure used to feature in these names, but the juxtaposition of the words Lower and Pleasure (when we get farther downstream) caused some discomfort!

We are now entering the busier, more formally landscaped gardens and the first thing we encounter is the Central Gardens Tennis Centre, with its distinctive inflatable ‘bubble’ allowing all-weather play.
SZ0891 : Bournemouth: the tennis bubble by Chris Downer SZ0891 : Bournemouth: Bournemouth Gardens Tennis Centre by Chris Downer SZ0891 : Bournemouth: Central Gardens and tennis centre by Chris Downer SZ0891 : Bournemouth: Gardens Tennis Centre pavilion by Chris Downer

From here it is only a short walk to the hub of Bournemouth’s town centre, The Square. On our way along here, we will pass the cenotaph, set delightfully in the middle of the Gardens, and the Town Hall and Methodist Church to our left.
SZ0891 : Bournemouth Gardens: approaching The Square by Chris Downer SZ0891 : Bournemouth: Bourne stream in the Gardens by Chris Downer SZ0891 : Bournemouth: Central Gardens by Chris Downer SZ0891 : Bournemouth: Town Hall and cenotaph by Chris Downer SZ0891 : Bournemouth Gardens: Queen Elizabeth II jubilee tree by Chris Downer SZ0891 : Bournemouth Gardens: the pergola by Chris Downer SZ0891 : Bournemouth Gardens: in winter shade by Chris Downer SZ0891 : Bournemouth Gardens: towards the cenotaph by Chris Downer SZ0891 : Bournemouth Gardens: “Paradise” by Chris Downer

And, then, we reach the hustle and bustle of The Square:
SZ0891 : Bournemouth: The Square by Chris Downer

Lower Gardens (The Square to the Pier Approach)

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright to 1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright

Once we have crossed The Square (we will pass the plaque showing that the pedestrianised square is soon to pass its eighth anniversary but only its second ‘real’ birthday),
SZ0891 : Bournemouth: The Square plaque by Chris Downer
we find ourselves on the last stretch of the Gardens before we find ourselves on the seafront. Bill Bryson (again) said that the Gardens provide a place to relax on the long slog between one half of the town centre and the other – then again, if it were not for the Gardens there would be no long slog.

Anyhow, what a beautiful long slog it is! We pass the fountain and the ticket office on our way to the now famous balloon:
SZ0891 : Bournemouth: the tethered balloon by Chris Downer SZ0891 : Bournemouth: the balloon and St. Andrew’s by Chris Downer SZ0891 : Bournemouth: fountain in the Gardens by Chris Downer SZ0891 : Bournemouth Gardens: coffee shop and balloon ticket office by Chris Downer SZ0891 : Bournemouth Gardens: looking across to Gervis Place by Chris Downer SZ0891 : Bournemouth: the balloon comes down by Chris Downer SZ0891 : Bournemouth: the balloon hides the sun by Chris Downer SZ0891 : Bournemouth: underneath the balloon by Chris Downer SZ0891 : Bournemouth: the balloon floodlit by Chris Downer

From there, we can take either the steep route alongside Westover Road, past the gallery and the aviary...
SZ0891 : Bournemouth Gardens: the aviary by Chris Downer SZ0891 : Bournemouth Gardens: open-air art gallery by Chris Downer
or the main path along the bottom of the valley, past the crazy golf, the bandstand and, of course, the Bourne Stream.
SZ0891 : Bournemouth: upstream in the Lower Gardens by Chris Downer SZ0891 : Bournemouth: downstream in the Lower Gardens by Chris Downer SZ0891 : Bournemouth Gardens: fun in the stream by Chris Downer SZ0890 : Bournemouth Gardens: ice cream kiosk by Chris Downer SZ0890 : Bournemouth: crazy golf by Chris Downer SZ0890 : Bournemouth Gardens: the bandstand by Chris Downer SZ0890 : Where the brass bands play tiddly-om-pom-pom by Chris Downer SZ0890 : Bournemouth Gardens: approaching the Pavilion by Chris Downer SZ0890 : Bournemouth Gardens: rockery alongside the Pavilion by Chris Downer SZ0890 : Bournemouth: Lower Gardens by Chris Downer
(During Wednesday evenings in August, the Gardens here are illuminated by candlelight in the shape of various figures
SZ0891 : Bournemouth: illuminations by candlelight by Chris Downer SZ0891 : Bournemouth’s illuminations by candlelight: the Mallard by Chris Downer)

And then we approach the Pavilion, turn right and embark on the very last stretch before we reach the Pier Approach.
SZ0890 : Bournemouth Gardens: upstream from the Pavilion by Chris Downer SZ0890 : Bournemouth Gardens: rockery in front of Westover Road by Chris Downer SZ0890 : Bournemouth Gardens: the stream nears its journey’s end by Chris Downer SZ0890 : Bournemouth Gardens: approaching the sea by Chris Downer SZ0890 : Bournemouth Gardens: Healthy Options by Chris Downer SZ0890 : Bournemouth: Bath/Exeter Road crosses the Pier Approach by Chris Downer SZ0890 : Bournemouth: the Pavilion from across the Gardens by Chris Downer

I think, now that we have got this far and it is such a lovely afternoon, we ought have a little look round and continue our journey to the end of the pier: then we really will be able to say there’s nowhere left to go!
1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright

SZ0890 : Dodgems at Pier Approach by Chris Downer SZ0890 : Bournemouth: International Centre by Chris Downer SZ0890 : Bournemouth: Pier Approach by Chris Downer SZ0890 : Bournemouth: funfair at the pier approach by Chris Downer SZ0890 : Bournemouth: looking along the pier by Chris Downer SZ0890 : Bournemouth: Oceanarium by Chris Downer SZ0890 : Bournemouth: Hot Rocks by Chris Downer SZ0890 : Bournemouth: the Waterfront building by Chris Downer SZ0890 : Bournemouth: children’s amusements by Chris Downer SZ0890 : Bournemouth: pier shelters by Chris Downer SZ0890 : Bournemouth: looking inland along the pier by Chris Downer SZ0890 : Bournemouth: Pier Theatre by Chris Downer SZ0890 : Bournemouth: alongside the Pier Theatre by Chris Downer SZ0890 : Bournemouth: pier café by Chris Downer SZ0890 : Bournemouth: pier head by Chris Downer

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