Boscombe Chine is one of four chines along the Bournemouth coast. A chine being a deep, steep-sided ravine originally formed by a river flowing through to the sea. The Chine runs down to the coast just to the west of Boscombe Pier. It can be accessed from the bottom (opposite the pier), the top (A35 – Christchurch Road), the west side (East Overcliff Drive/Manor Road) or from a small alleyway on the east side (Boscombe Spa Road).
To reach Boscombe Chine from Bournemouth, it is a pleasant walk/cycle along the prom or the overcliff. Numerous buses pass along the A35 stopping at the top of the chine (1, 1A, M2, X3). In addition, Buster’s Beach Bus stops at the bottom of the gardens. The land train also passes through the gardens.
During the Victorian era, when the area first began to attract tourists, it was decided to transform Boscombe Spa (so called after the mineral spring which existed at the lower end of the Gardens) into a fashionable coastal resort. To that end, it was decided to turn Boscombe Chine into a ‘splendid garden’. Work began in 1868 to create a ‘pleasure grounds’ to include walks, croquet lawns, a rustic bridge and a lodge. The original lodge still stands in the northwest corner of the Gardens.
Development of the gardens continued and included building paths, planting beds and construction of a model boating pond, tennis courts and a tennis pavilion.
Over time, the area became run down and for fifty years the Gardens were in decline. Eventually in the 1990’s they became a no go area notable for their anti social behaviour and as a hangout for druggies.
In recent years, the gardens have experienced a facelift and become a pleasant place for local and visitors to spend some time. The spa spring is long gone. More recent renovations have included the replacement of public tennis courts with mini golf, filling the model boating pond to create a water park and the replacement of the rustic bridge with a concrete structure. Since 2007, thehe Gardens have been awarded a Green Flag Award which recognises well managed parks and green spaces.
Key to the gardens’ transformation have been reinstating the beautiful flower beds.
Boscombe Chine Gardens consist of formal flower beds, less formal borders, grassy areas and a selection of mature trees. A variety of trees grow along the banks of the chine and provide habitats for wildlife. There is a wildlife quiz trail along the pathway with information about the plants and animals found in the gardens.
At the top of the gardens is the council run Squirrel Cafe. The café is on the upper flor overlooking the mini golf course, offering an opportunity to enjoy a drink and a snack with a lovely view across the gardens.
A beautifully landscaped 18-hole Mini Golf Course is open daily throughout the summer from 10 am to 5pm. A round of golf costs £5.80 for an adult.
Water Play Area
I don’t usually take much notice of children’s play areas as I don’t have any children, but this is a really cool water themed one with a water wheel and chutes which send the water to different levels. I shall bear it in mind as a place to take my grandchildren (when I have some).
Other facilities include a ball play area and public toilets.
Note that the central path through the park is pedestrian (apart from the land train) but that cycling is permitted on the paths to the eastern and western edges of the gardens.