Crabbing at Mudeford Quay
Boat rides in the harbour, Crabbing on the quay side and beaches at Mudeford Sandbank are a great way to spend a day with the kids. We discovered Mudeford Quay on a family holiday to Christchurch. We also discovered a great cafe overlooking the beach.
I love crabbing at Mudeford. If you go at the right time there are loads of crabs to catch. Dad took us at the start of summer once when it was still a bit cold. We didn’t catch more than two crabs! The fish bits can be a bit gross but you soon get used to the heads and tails. The second time we went dad insisted Josh wore a buoyancy aid just in case he fell in. He does tend to lean over a bit far at times. I love taking the boat to the beach and eating at the Beach House cafe. The burgers are the best! We found loads of sea creatures on the breakwaters on the beach before buying ice-cream at the small shop.
Take with you your crabbing line and net (also available to buy for a few pounds at the shop), your paddling stuff, frisbee for the beach and a jumper if you are staying late.
We have done this trip a few times now from different directions. Initially we were heading to the beaches and beach huts at the Mudeford Sandbank approaching it from the Hengistbury Head off the B3059. We parked at the public car park at the Hiker Cafe on the Broadway road. We walked the mile to the end of the spit to the beach where the brightly coloured beach huts are lined up along the shoreline. Apparently, these are the most expensive beach huts in the country. Given the location and the fact that they are self contained holiday apartments, it’s not hard to see why. If you are not up to the walk from the car park to the end of the head then you can take the land train. The walk is worth it though. Down on the headland is the Beach House Cafe. This is a superb cafe serving some great food. We have to pay a visit every time we are at Mudeford, even if it’s just for a hot chocolate and a piece of cake. The view over the estuary back towards Christchurch is idyllic and when the weather is nice, you can sit on the decking area at the front of the cafe watching the boats go by. We walked to the very tip of Hengistbury head where you are met by a 100 metres of sea between you and Mudeford Quay. There is a ferry service across the estuary that links Hengistbury with Mudeford. It’s great fun to jump on the boat and sail across to the Quay.
On other occasions we have driven to Mudeford Quay from Christchurch and parked in the public car park off Chichester Way. From here there is a shop selling all the crabbing equipment you need, a fish stall that sells crabbing bait (the off-cuts of wet fish), a pub and a cafe. We have not tried the cafe here or the Hiker Cafe as we always save ourselves for the treats of the Beach House Cafe. The end of the quay is the place to try crabbing. Once the summer has warmed the waters up a little the crabs are in abundance. It’s not hard to pull a dozen or so small crabs out of the sea. We use the crab lines with the small string bags on the end. We have tried crab hooks, which work for crabs but you may also have to deal with the odd fish on the end of the line. The string bags with a fish head or raw bacon in them seem to be much more efficient.
After a spot of crabbing we have a look at the lifeboat station and read all about the rescues that year posted by the RNLI. It’s a good reminder to people how important it is to donate some cash to the cause. The ferry at the end of the quay then sails us across the estuary to Hengistbury Head and lands us just by the Beach House Cafe for lunch. Josh and Emma normally go for the spaghetti Bolognese or the burger and the grown-ups, the moules and chips and the risotto. The beach is a great place to walk off lunch and jump around on the breakwaters looking for sea creatures. After running around on the beach it’s back on the ferry and back to the car.
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