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Thursday, 6 February 2014

Walk 111 Bournemouth to Poole (Dorset)

 Walk  111 Bournemouth to Poole (Dorset)

 (Second leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs to Lands End)

 Map: L/R 195
Distance: 13 miles or 20km approx.
Difficulty: quite easy
Terrain: paths/ pavement
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport: Rail and bus links Bournemouth/Poole

Start the walk at Bournemouth Pier. Follow the cycle route along the coast as marked on the OS map.

The first main feature is Alum Chine. It gets its name from an unsuccessful attempt to mine alum (a fixative used in the dye industry) and copperas (a black die used in ink). It proved uneconomical and mining ceased by the end of the 17th century. If you enjoy gardens, look out for the Alum Chine Tropical Gardens which can be viewed from a special platform.

There are a few chines (wooded valleys) along this stretch including Flag Head Chine and Canford Cliffs Chine. The valley at Branksome Chine cuts inland for about 1.5 miles.

Continue walking to Poole Head then follow the cycle track over the B3369 where it continues towards Sandbanks. Take a stroll along here where the view is to Brownsea Island and Poole. Much of the coast around Sandbanks is inaccessible because the gardens of some very expensive housing run down to the beach. This area has one of the highest (probably the highest) property values in the UK. I understand several celebrities and Premiership footballers live here.

After the stroll turn around and follow the road (a bit of a route march in parts) around to Poole then walk around Parkstone Bay following the cycle route. The entrance to Poole Harbour is soon reached.

Poole has been a port since the 12th century prospering during the height of the wool trade to become one of the busiest ports in the UK in the 18th century. It also prospered as a base for privateers (had a licence from the government to act moreless like pirates) and in 1405 was sacked (attacked and plundered) in vengeance by the French and Spanish.  During World War 2 it was one of the main departure points for the D Day landings. Sixty cutters of the US Coastguard Rescue service were stationed here – they were completely made of wool.

The harbour, the largest natural one in Europe, is full of extremely expensive looking boats – some under construction. There is a double high tide which means it remains high for more than half the day.

On the harbour side, look out for the seated figure of Baden Powell. This is a memorial to the man who organised the first scout camp at nearby Brownsea Island. (Details on next walk). A sculpture called ‘Sea Music’ by the artist Sir Anthony Caro is also at the edge of the harbour. The HQ of the RNLI together with the lifeboat college can be found further round on the walk to Holes Bay with its odd sculptures on the harbour side. At Holes Bay return to Poole centre and bus/train/car.

Snaps show: coast near Branksome Chine;  'Sea Music' sculpture, Poole; a view to Sandbanks; Poole Harbour.

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