A group of hardy people queued for up to 30 hours in the cold and rain to secure a sought-after beach hut for the year.

Fifteen cabins were available for long-term rent at Avon Beach in Christchurch and the dedicated staycationers went to extreme lengths to make sure they got their hands on one.

At the head of the queue was seasoned regular, Ken Ryder, 73, who left a New Years Eve party and went straight to the beach at 2am.

He wanted to be first to guarantee the best positioned hut that is bathed in the summer sun for one hour longer than the rest thanks to a gap in the trees.

Read more: "Too early to say" how long emergency works in Christchurch will take

Bournemouth Echo:

The pensioner wore five layers of clothing and slept in a sleeping bag in a reclining chair while he waited for 30 hours in the wind and the rain.

Ken, a retired aerospace engineer from Christchurch, said: "I was at a New Years Eve party and came straight here - there wasn't any point going home.

"I had five layers of clothes on as it was very cold at night. I had waterproofs, motorcycle boots, an aluminium blanket and a sleeping bag.

"It was worth the long wait because you always get a good bunch of people in the queue and there is a nice atmosphere.

"I queued early to get a hut that is in the optimum position where the sun lasts for an hour longer because it is in a gap in the trees.

Bournemouth Echo: Ken Ryder gets his beach hutKen Ryder gets his beach hut (Image: BNPS)

"The main reason I retired here is to be by the sea and having a beach hut is the icing on the cake. It is the perfect retirement for me and my partner. Our grandchildren come down throughout the year."

Read more: Police issue update after a man aged in his 20s is stabbed late at night in Poole

Avon Beach has 130 huts lining the quiet sandy beach, which is popular with dog walkers, tourists and water sport enthusiasts.

Some of the huts are sold privately for as much as £130,000 and have gas-powered fridges and gas hobs inside.

This year, there were 90 huts up for rent for different periods of the year and just 15 available for the full summer holidays - the most popular for families.

Bournemouth Echo:

The cost to rent a 7ft by 4ft hut from April to September is £3,075 while a bigger hut is almost £4,000.

The huts became available to book at 8am today but staff arrived at the beach shop on New Year's Day morning to find as many as six people already braving the elements.

The queue grew through the day and around 20 people were waiting by the time the administration office opened this morning.

Kerryn Foggo, 60, and her daughter Maissie, 29, arrived at 5am today and were 11th in the queue.

Read more: Revealed: The Dorset employers who posted the most vacancies in 2022

Kerryn said: "We live locally and we go to the beach almost everyday in the summer. We queued last year so we were quite confident of getting one of the long term huts by arriving at 5am.

"It is a lot of money to pay but it is well worth having for all the family to use."

Beach hut manager Laura Huxtable-White said: "When I visited the office on New Years Eve it was already manic. I was expecting one or two customers but there were five or six.

"We have had a huge number of enquiries this year even despite the cost of living crisis.

"We've also extended about 40 of the beach huts by around 1.2m (4ft), making them even more desirable to people with families.

"There's also been a huge rise in people looking to buy huts and we have five on the market this year. They can sell for £130,000.

"We've built a new coffee cabin so there's a lot we can offer visitors.

"Mudeford is a relatively untouched part of the coast away from the arcades. People can come here, enjoy family, and take a break from the gadgets and distractions".