On a recent trip to Poole my other half and I discovered some amazing natural locations we never knew existed. We’ve both been working from home for over a year now, so getting out of our one bed flat was a joy in and of itself! We were in desperate need of a break and with annual leave to burn, treating ourselves to a trip to Dorset seemed like the perfect mid-week escape.

A friend had recommended the RNLI College to us to stay. I had no idea that they offered rooms but after a quick look online we thought why not? Seeing it was in the heart of Poole town, it looked like the perfect location and we were keen to try something unique. 

Quite often we try to go for the lower price bracket for our accommodation. We’re fond of camping and the pull of a nice country campsite in Dorset was attractive, but with no other major holiday plans this year we thought we’d treat ourselves to the creature comforts of a hotel.

The fact that we booked mid-week meant it wasn’t as expensive as we first thought. The room was very nice and even had a view of Holes Bay in Poole Harbour. With pubs and restaurant within walking distance, we were glad to have splashed the extra cash.

Day one

For our first day we booked a stand-up paddle boarding trip with Easy Riders to get out and see some of the beautiful harbour that we’d heard so much about. After breakfast and watching the harbour pick up with activity, we made our way to Shore Road to start our SUP adventure.

The tour takes a loop of the picturesque Brownsea Island and we were so lucky with the weather it really was a great experience. Luckily the water was perfectly still to just coast around and enjoy the scenery. Seeing the harbour from this point of view was something I’ll never forget, I’ve been paddle boarding before but not like this it was truly really special!

Our tour guide was great and even recommended some other spots in the area. We mentioned we were hoping to explore some of the Purbeck countryside, and he told us of beach at Chapman’s Pool that is often quieter because it is harder to get to. To us that sounded perfect, a beach that only the locals know about and even a bit of an adventure to get there! Our second day was planning out nicely.

Our trip finished up around 4pm and with Sandbanks just across the bay, we realised we could take the chain ferry back into Poole. The crossing only takes 4 minutes and they run every 20, so we didn’t have to wait long. I’d always wanted to see the expensive homes on Sandbanks, so we enjoyed a scenic route back marvelling at the extravagance! 

Tummy’s rumbling, we thought what better to end our first day in Poole with than some fish and chips? We’d heard that there were some great restaurants on Poole Quay, so we left the car at the hotel and walked down. As we stepped onto the quay it was clear that this was the thing to do. We saw multiple places to choose from with people coming and going with their orders. We opted for Harlees and found a nice open space on the quay to wolf down our well-earned grub. 

Day 2 

Seen as our SUP guide had recommended it, we decided to head back out to the Purbecks for day two and try and find Chapmans Pool. There are two car parks near the site, but we left ours in the one near Worth Matravers and walked through the village. We got some great pictures of the old brick houses which are made from rock excavated from the local land and a little shop window in the village was even selling ice creams and pasties. 

The trail starts just outside the village and is well signposted, but once you start the descent it becomes clear why this is not a hugely populated beach. 

Although I did spot one group attempting it in flip-fops, it is a bit of a trek and we were both glad of study footwear. It’s very steep to get down to but once your there, it’s absolutely worth the trek. It probably took us an hour and a half from the car park to the beach and this might have influenced why we spent so long down there! That plus the fact that the bay was stunning and secluded. With only a few boats anchored in the water and a few other groups around it felt like our own secret spot. It was the perfect place to cool off and enjoy the surroundings.

Had we not planned something else I think we could have quite happily spent the entire day at Chapmans Pool, but there was one last thing on our list. On our two days driving through the Purbecks we had been blessed with stunning vistas, and at the centre of these views almost every day was the astounding Corfe Castle. Almost serendipitously our drive towards it from Worth Matravers gave us the most incredible viewpoint. From the hill tops in Kingston, you can see right across the countryside with the Castle in the centre. We just had to stop for a picture and to take in the amazing view.

Looking out at the castle, we could just make out the old steam train coming in from Swanage. It’s amazing to think that this scene must have looked the same way for decades. Thinking about it reminded me that the Swanage Railway was in fact used in the film Dunkirk for exactly that reason.

There’s an elated scene were survivors from France heading home on the train are greeted as heroes and passed bottles of beer through the carriage windows. The charming setting was perfect for that cinematic moment, the surroundings are so untouched being there must feel like you’ve stepped back in time. On another trip we both agreed we would book a ticket on the Swanage Railway and take that imaginary journey back through time.

With talk of well-earned beer, we settled on ending our trip in a local pub. Driving past all the nice country pubs might’ve influenced this too and on our way home we phoned ahead and managed to get a table booked at the Poole Arms on the quay. Sitting in the old quay front pub bought a nice end to our trip. As if often the case with our holidays, our only regret was not to have stayed longer. On our last day we really started to explore the area and next time we will definitely book a trip on the Swanage Railway and explore more of the area we had only just begun to discover. 




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