Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Stanpit Marsh - a nature reserve walk with a smuggling past

Yesterday Hamish the dog and I headed through the recreation ground opposite our house and into the Stanpit Marsh nature reserve for the first time on a very cold, but sunny day.

Stanpit was listed in the Domesday book as Stan Peta, meaning two estates with meadows, and the marshes were produced by the Rivers Stour and Avon meeting the saltwater of Christchurch Harbour. It's now one of the largest salt marshes in the country and a site of Special Scientific interest with 14 rare or endangered species of plants growing there (so be careful where you plant your boots!).

I haven't seen my camera since the move, but this view has pushed me into emptying all of the cupboards again to try and find it.. An iphone just doesn't do it justice!

Stanpit Marsh is so much more beautiful than its name implies.
It has been maintained to protect the birds that like to nest in its reeds, and the firmer ground is grazed by ponies, so you need to keep dogs on a lead.

Follow the lovely circular stroll from the recreation ground through the marshes and along the river, looking out over Hengistbury Head and the Mudeford Beach Huts one the way out, and Christchurch Priory on the way back. You will cross Baileys Bridge, which takes you over Mother Siller's Channel, named after 18th century smuggler Ma Seller, the landlady of the Ship in Distress pub (see yesterday's post). The channel used to lead to the back of her pub so it was a useful 'trade' route!

The walk only takes half an hour or so but be sure to take your wellies at the moment!

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