Stanpit Marsh is an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest). It is famous for a wide variety of wildlife and flowers. Rather than writing an extensive description, you can get the basic information by reading the board below, displayed on Stanpit Marsh.
Here is a plan showing its relationship to Hengistbury Head, across Christchurch Harbour.
Here is another map, with points of interest indicated.
The Bailey Bridge
This is the Bailey Bridge, which was very much a local invention.
The label, above, says: ‘A brilliant design for a prefabricated modular bridging system conceived by Donald Bailey whilst working at the Royal Engineers Bridging camp in Christchurch. The camp had opened in 1919 and evolved into the Military Engineering Experimental Establishment, so this year (2019) is the centenary of the Royal Engineers’ presence in Christchurch.’
It paid a big part in World War II:
As Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery put it:
‘Bailey bridging made an immense contribution towards ending World War Two … I could never have maintained the speed and tempo of forward movement without large supplies of Bailey bridging.Without the Bailey Bridge, we should not have won the war. It was the best thing in that line that we ever had.’
A working one is still in regular, thankfully more peaceful, use on Stanpit Marsh, and is something of a tourist attraction.
Here is a better view of the structure. Click for a larger image.
As Private Fraser would have said, it is a wild and lonely place! However, it is a short diversion along the shingle and is well worth visiting. Though only a hundred yards or so from the path, it is not as frequently visited. You can’t go all the way round without getting your feet wet, but on the way back to the path you can have a rest on a rustic seat!
The Iron Boat
This old lifeboat served a Word War II US Liberty ship. These were steam-driven to use Britain’s huge supply of coal. There were sixty in use in Britain, and were of simple design: they could be built faster than German u-boats could sink them! Well over two thousand of these merchant ships survived the war, and were in use for some years afterwards. The lifeboat here was washed ashore in a storm in 1953, when it was stripped and left to rust and decay, becoming what it is today, a minor tourist attraction.