Hengistbury Head! The name still evokes the excitement I used to feel when I was young and we went on family holidays to Southbourne ⛱🦀🕶🍦
Never mind the conventional seaside attractions – my favourite place was the flat-topped headland visible along the coast from the balcony of our holiday rental.
You could walk there along the beach or ride magnificently on the open-top bus. Hengistbury Head was a paradise, wonderfully different from the tame suburban parks of home.
I loved following the numbered nature trail, searching for clues of the people who lived here thousands of years ago, gazing into the mysterious green lily ponds buzzing with dragonflies, and pondering over the names Lobbs Hole and Holloways Dock, which always sounded vaguely threatening.
It’s changed a bit since the 1970s. For a start, it’s busier – more than a million visitors a year! An impressive visitor centre was opened by Chris Packham in 2014 (in the olden days, there was just the caff) and for the sake of preservation you’re no longer allowed to scramble up and down the Iron Age ramparts of Double Dykes.
But the ‘Noddy Train’ still trundles down to Mudeford Spit where beach huts famously sell for the cost of an actual house, the ferry still provides a short cut across the mouth of Christchurch Harbour, and the Bronze Age burial barrows still hold their secrets.
My painting ’Towards Hengistbury Head’ (acrylic on deep edge canvas, 76 x 50 cm, £175) shows the view I’ve always loved, and is on display until 20th August at Dorset 20:20 Art Society’s Summer Exhibition in Church House, Wimborne (right next to the Minster). Open daily 10am – 5pm