Bournemouth is regarded as being in the West Country, but it is at its most easterly point. It is a town but has a population of over 180,000 and the surrounding conurbation totals over 450,000. It is renowned for its 7 miles of beaches and the region attracts thousands of visitors all year round. The size of the town means that it can cater for all tastes. It is a popular destination for the young due to its languages schools and university. The town has a thriving night life and energetic music scene and is often a favoured destination for stag parties and hen nights.
The long beaches also make it an ideal destination for those tourists looking for the traditional beach holiday. There is a pier, plus many fish and chip shops and arcades to keep tourists entertained if the weather proves to be unreliable. It is also the home to the Bournemouth International Centre and the O2 Academy which are ideal venues for concerts and other exhibitions. The surrounding New Forest, the Isle of Portland and the Dorset Countryside also provide tourists activities that can be easily accessed. The car ferry across to the Isle of Purbeck is busily used as visitors are often keen to stroll along the South West Path, and even visit the area’s smaller resorts, such as Swanage.
Not all people wish to visit large resorts, such as Bournemouth but are more attracted to the quaint experiences that are associated with the smaller village destinations that are found in Cornwall. Padstow is one such resort and its popularity has risen recently with the television exposure that has been afforded to one of their most famous residents the Chef Rick Stein. Padstow is a small fishing village that is found on the North Cornish coast. It still has a working fleet of boats that fish the local waters and provide food for the excellent restaurants that are found in the area. One of the most popular is Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant but it is not the only one and many people visit the area to sample its culinary delights.
The region also has several beaches that provide water sports and other activities. It is also the perfect gateway to the Cornish Countryside with there being many trails that both walkers and cyclists can take advantage of. Cornwall has many villages that offer beach holidays with spectacular environments and rich in culture. The only disadvantage is that the region is in one of the more remote parts of the country.
The same cannot be said of Weston-Super-Mare. Bristol is seen as the gateway to the South West and the first major seaside town to be reached is Weston, which is located only 18 miles to the south-west of the city. With the M5 motorway passing the town it’s an easy getaway for those visitors who are travelling from London, Birmingham and even the country’s northern conurbations. The town had been popular for a long period as a result of its fishing, but the population boomed as a result of the industrial revolution.
The work of Weston resident Isambard Kingdom Brunel, in building the railway lines from London and the Midlands to Bristol and Exeter, was instrumental in the first wave of tourists being attracted into the town. From the opening of these lines 1841 the town then flourished and today it has a population of around 77,000.
The majority of tourists are attracted to the town for the traditional beach holiday. Yet it does not have the most attractive beaches in the South West. Being located at the mouth of the Severn estuary its beaches are dominated by the river depositing silt. At high tide the beach is sand, but the low tide exposes vast areas of mud.
This has in no way stopped tourists being attracted to the town. The abundance of small cheap bed and breakfast hotels, and the abundance of family entertainments on offer, keeps Weston-Super-Mare being one of the country’s most popular seaside resorts.