At Sandbanks

Click on image to enlarge if needed. Clockwise from top left: 1. Ferry shed window 2. Poole Harbour on ice 3. Ferry with bus 4. Jetty 5. Ferry shed detail 6. Shore Road, Poole 7. All aboard 8. Street furniture 9. Our ferry arrives

NAH and I made one of our regular trips to Poole yesterday to see his aunt - always an enjoyable experience. We arrived at midday and immediately entered her timewarp where lunch takes at least 3 hours, very continental and relaxing. When asked what she'd like to do for the rest of the afternoon, she requested a trip to Sandbanks, on the edge of Poole and always an interesting place to visit, for me in winter particularly as I think that's the best time to be at the seaside.

Our trip took us past Evening Hill, scene of many a windsurfing weekend and holiday for us, though with no windsurfers to view yesterday as we'd arrived at low tide. Poole is always an interesting place to windsurf as it has a double high tide owing to the proximity of the Isle of Wight. Evening Hill is a great spot - good onshore winds and forgiving waters when you fall in as much of the vast sailing area is very shallow. The top middle photo shows this area and the little strip of land top right is part of Brownsea Island where Baden Powell held the first ever scout camp. Today the island is in the care of the National Trust and is home to a population of rare red squirrels. The low tide was the furthest out we'd ever seen - I'm wondering if tonight's full moon and its orbit's close proximity to Earth have something to do with it.

We parked at Shore Road, one of Poole's beaches on the seaward side. This is part of Sandbanks, an narrow strip of land with some of the most expensive property in the world - only Hong Kong is more expensive per square mile. This area always feels like it's not strictly part of England, the pine trees and vegetation look more Mediterranean than English and the Italian ice cream colours of the various architect designed properties add to this feel. There's a strange juxtaposition here - millionaire's row sits very firmly alongside an area popular with families for the traditional bucket and spade holiday. I wonder who gets more enjoyment? The families certainly won yesterday - no millionaire could be seen on their balcony, but plenty of families were togged out in coats, hats and woolly scarves happily building sandcastles on the beach, although lots of running and giggling seemed to be needed to keep warm.

Having photographed the Shore Road side at sunset, I hurriedly walked through the grounds of Sandbanks Hotel to get onto the Poole Harbour side of the peninsula to make use of the dying light. I was surprised to find the sea on the high tide line on the beach was frozen solid, something that's not happened there for well over a decade (it was even more dramatic earlier on in the week - do have a look here). Jumping up and down on the ice was added to the activities seen at Shore Road. On getting back to the car, we realised that the traffic back into Poole was horrendous, so decided to go to the end of Sandbanks and have a look at the ferry. This is another juxtaposition - there's narrow strip of water here usually populated with gin palace-like yachts and all kinds of sailing craft which contrast with the dumpy looking chain ferry plying between Sandbanks and Shell Bay.

The ferry had just left with a bus on board - such is the saving in distance to get to Swanage, a trip on it is part of the local service. We patiently waited for the ferry to come back so we could board, taking our place behind an ambulance. Here another juxtaposition awaits - the ferry leaves an essentially urban spot and lands on a national nature reserve in the care of the National Trust. It's like entering another country and is one of my most favourite places in the world. The stretch of water between urban and natural is small and I suspect a bridge has never been built between the two as the ferry acts as a crude control on the number of people and cars accessing the area. There was just about enough light to be able to see the unusual heathland vegetation, though too late for any birds.

We were now on the Isle of Purbeck, not an island, but a narrow stretch of land bounded by the sea on one side and the vastness of Poole Harbour on the other - the harbour is the second largest in the world, beaten only by Sydney. Most of the land is low lying, but in the middle rises a hill of strategic importance topped by Corfe Castle which can be seen for miles. Travelling through here at dusk, just added to the mysteriousness of the place and the silhouetted castle looked its most foreboding in spite of being a ruin.

We were too late to take in a stop at Wareham and its turfed town walls as by now it was almost dark. So we wound our way back to Poole for a well earned, highly fattening tea (NAH's aunt always looks after us very well in that department), before heading back home after a lovely day.


  1. HI VP, thanks for taking us along on your trip. I love ferries and the control they have over the number of visitors, especially to a place as special as the one you describe. If it is one of your favorites, it must be magical indeed.

  2. This reminded me of a trip I did when the boys were little. We camped near Poole and spent a day on Brownsea Island. I discovered that I was allergic to Lime tree pollen that day!!

  3. Lovely tour VP - with great photos.
    I just love the "big skies"

  4. I don't really know Poole and have obviously missed something. Thanks.

  5. A good day out by all accounts VP. I had never realised that Poole Harbour was so big despite sailing out of it. Next time we are down that way we must stay in the area long enough to explore it. I am curious to know how you got the collage effect with your photos ? I have managed to put one together using Picasa but it had more panes than I wanted.

  6. Hello VP and thank you for a grand guided tour./ Tyra

  7. Oh boy, the tea and goodies are just the ticket for a relaxing and enjoyable time reflecting on all the fun you had that day. You made me want to get up and fix some scones or something buttery.

    Too bad you didn't get to see the wind surfers. What an athletic bunch.

    Brownsea Island sounds like a good photo op and so glad you weren't disappointed.

    The reserve at the Isle of Purbeck is another treasure and seems like a destination that could have lasted all day. It sounds a bit like some of our Outer Banks of NC. Riding across the inlet to get to Carrituck Island is a 15 minute strong breeze on your face. In an air conditioned car, it can take you 2 hours at the least.

    Loved your pictures today.

  8. Petoskystone - glad you enjoyed it!

    Frances - it's very magical. I must do some more trips and posts about it.

    PG - oh dear. Hope the rest of your holiday was OK. I love the area.

    Karen - I was worried we wouldn't get there in time to do it justice. I had to work quickly to get these shots.

    Hermes - no problem. You're even closer to Poole than we are. It's well worth a visit.

    Anna (GT) - there's so many inlets, reedbeds etc. its size is quite well disguised. We got quite a good idea on the road to Corfe Castle as we pulled over at the side of the road at a viewpoint towards Poole and got an idea of just how large it is. Having got up high made the difference. My collage is also from Picassa. I was surprised when I went in as there were many more options than the last time. I take care to choose a number of photos that are a square number - 4, 9 or 16. If you don't it annoyingly repeats some of the images. There's loads of other options left to explore - this is the first one I've done with rectangular photos - before they've been cropped into squares.

    Tyra - glad you enjoyed it!

    Anna (FGG) - the area is absolutely beautiful that's why I love it so. Must show you more another time. And yes we could have spent a lot longer on there, but setting out just before sunset didn't help in that department ;) Scones etc. would be just the thing - warm from the oven and with cream and strawberry jam :p

  9. What an absolutely gorgeous day, VP! I will have to google everything now. Ice on a beach would scare me to death, btw. I'd think something was VERY seriously wrong if I found that! Glad you had such a lovely outing!

  10. What a beautiful place! Thanks, VP; I feel as though I've taken a little holiday with you.

  11. It certainly sounds, and looks, like you had a good day out, which is always a bonus at this time of year! xx

  12. Thanks for the Picasa information here and at my place VP. It is appreciated. Yesterday was my first dabble at putting a collage together, so most of what I did was guess work. I have taken note of your useful tip about the number of photos.

  13. Kathryn - take some of the links - I've saved you the Google. And bearing in mind where you are, I'd be scared if I found ice on the beach!

    Rose - that's exactly how we feel when we go and see NAH's aunt :)

    Flighty - the seaside at this time of the year's always worth a visit!

    Anna - no problem. Hope you enjoy more dabbling!


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