The Kingfisher Barn Visitor Centre in Muscliff (just outside Bournemouth) was built as part of Bournemouth councils plan to regenerate this part of the Stour Valley Way. The plan was called "Explore the Stour" and the clear aim is to get more people to find out and then enjoy this hidden gem in Bournemouth's back yard.
The decision to commision the Kingfisher Barn Visitor Centre came in 2013 after a shock survey found that more than half of Bournemouth residents had never even visited the River Stour once! The purpose of the Kingfisher Barn Visitor centre is to provide a central focus for developing local and national interest in the richly diverse wildlife and cultural features of the River Stour.
The Kingfisher Barn Visitor centre provides a place for information and a centre for resources. Although it only opened in late May 2016 it is already being heavily used by school groups as a hub. Bournemouth council is initially working in partnership with the RSPB for a two year period and will then take over the full running of the centre.
The centre is open everyday of the year with the exception of Christmas week when it is closed. In the Summer it is open between 10.00 to 17.00. It closes an hour earlier in the winter at 16.00. As well as some interesting displays detailing historical and environmental aspects of the river, the site also has a couple of picnic benches and has coffee making facilities for intrepid explorers on cold days. There is also a class room and the centre also provided the administration and offices for the local Rangers that oversee the Stour Valley Way and Hengistbury Head. Please be aware that this area is an important and fragile nature reserve. To protect this area there is a bylaw banning the landing or launching of boats, kayaks & dingies. Please abide by it.
There is a car park for about 30 cars and many ornate and detailed carvings decorating the pathways. The path from the Kingfisher centre leads directly down to the rivers edge and the rambler can either go upstream or downstream (towards Throop Mill).
As well as access to a three mile stretch of the river Stour the site also has a wildlife garden and a new wildflower garden is actively under development. An arboretum (or Tree Garden) with many varied and unusual species of trees has also been developed. The area immediately ajacent to the Kingfisher Centre, along the river is a designated local nature reserve (unsurprisingly called the Stour Valley Nature reserve)
The Kingfisher Barn Centre is a growing jewell in Bournemouths crown and deserves to be successful. It is well worth a visit as you make your way down to the river bank at Muscliffe.