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). It was converted into a garden during the Victorian era when Boscombe first became a popular resort.
To reach Boscombe Chine from Bournemouth, it is a pleasant walk/cycle along the prom or the overcliff or a mile drive along the A35. Numerous buses pass along the A35 stopping at the top of the chine (1, 1a, 1b, 1C, 33, M2, X3). In addition, The No 99 and 70/80 Breezer Buses stop at the bottom of the gardens. The land train, which runs along the prom, also passes through the gardens.
The nearest car park is Boscombe Overstrand Car Park. Fees are seasonal, costing from £2.10 to £2.50 for an hour. Further details here. Some free roadside parking is available to the east side of the chine (for example Boscombe Spa Road or Wharncliffe Road) with steps leading into 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. By the 1990’s they had become 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 the 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, the 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.
Food and Drink
At the top of the gardens is the council owned Squirrel Café. The council closed all its park cafes last year, but the café in Boscombe Chine Gardens is due to reopen at the end of May. The café is on the upper floor overlooking the mini golf course, offering an opportunity to enjoy a drink and a snack with a lovely view across the gardens. The new operators will open the café every day over the summer months between 9.30 am and 5 pm.
A beautifully landscaped 18-hole Mini Golf Course is open daily throughout the summer.
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.
Boscombe Chine Gardens for Children
There are plenty of child friendly activities in the gardens. As well as the ball play area and mini golf, there is a water play area. There is also a wildlife quiz trail along the pathway with information about the plants and animals found in the gardens.
Water Play Area
In addition to traditional play area equipment, the really cool water themed play area has a water wheel and chutes which send water to different levels.
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