Poole Harbour is massive. It is the largest natural harbour in Europe and the second largest in the world, and yes! I stand braced for the storm of objection this second observation might possibly brew up. There seems to be quite a lot of debate on the matter. Most arguments seem to focus on whether bays (such as San Francisco Bay) are natural harbours as well as bays. Frankly, I don’t care about all that. The difference between a bay and a harbour was of less importance that day than the fact that Poole Harbour is just plain big. At its widest point it is over three miles in width, and to us that meant it would take a painfully long time to walk around.
Luckily, the harbour entrance is only 300 metres wide and a chain-ferry connects the two sides.
We walked along Sandbanks and up to the ferry. Sandbanks is the eastern spit of land at the harbour entrance and reputedly one of the most expensive places to buy properties in the world. A house will very easily cost you £6,000,000 to £10,000,000.
We didn’t have that much cash on us (even collectively) so we jumped on the ferry instead and made our way across. Looking back towards shore, I couldn’t help but think that if Sandbanks were really that expensive then The Haven Hotel really ought to repair its sign…
The ferry terminal on the southern side of the harbour marks the start of the South West Coast Path, one of the UK’s best loved long-distance walks. Running for some 630 miles it wraps round the entire south west of the country. It is a strenuous walk at times, undulating and craggy, with golden sands and crumbling cliff tops. It is said that if you complete it then you will have climbed the equivalent of Mount Everest three times over. I have no idea whether that’s true or not, but I was looking forward to finding out!
The start of the South West Coast Path was not for today, however. This was as far as we were going. We walked off the ferry onto dry land and then jumped straight back on again (to the very bemused look of one of the crew – probably the same one who had seen the bunny ears fight on the way over and who clearly thought we were raving bonkers). Back on the other side we got back in our cars and headed back to our hotel. Our route took us round the shallower part of the harbour where all year round kite surfers and windsurfers try to race in every direction as fast as possible without getting tangled up and killing each other.
Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):
- Sandbanks: N 50° 41.150 W 001° 56.800
- The Haven Hotel: N 50° 40.990 W 001° 56.840
- Poole Harbour Entrance and Ferry: N 50° 40.900 W 001° 56.960
Walk #74 Statistics (of which this post forms the final part):
- Date of Walk: 16 August 2014
- Walk #74 total distance covered (excluding ferry): 4.47 miles
- Coast of Britain Walk Total Distance Covered: 630.78 miles
- CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO INTERACTIVE MAP!!!