A ‘Grand’ Day out in Poole Dorset

Like many other grand parents during the summer Peter Morrell and his wife discover the enjoyment and pleasure of looking after an inquisitive and energetic three year old grand daughter for a few days.
Lord Baden Powell - Photo Poole Tourism

Lord Baden Powell - Photo Poole Tourism

The Solent Queen at Poole Quay

The Solent Scene at Poole Quay

Sandbanks Harbour Side Properties

Sandbanks harbour side properties

Brownsea Island

Brownsea Island

Old Harry Rocks

Old Harry Rocks

A Happy Grand Daughter on the Solent Scene

A Happy Grand Daughter on the Solent Scene

Poole Quay

Poole Quay

Granny Cousins relates her ghoulish tales

Granny Cousins relates her ghoulish tales

The haunted King Charles Pub

The haunted King Charles Pub

I recently stood on Hungerford footbridge in London with my grand daughter watching the boats on the Thames. She was particularly fascinated by the catamarans run by City Cruises, one of which can carry up to 600 passengers.

Fast forward a month and we had our grand daughter to stay for a week, the question was how to keep a lively three year old entertained. I had read that City Cruises had recently branched out from London and acquired Blue Line Cruises, who run a boat from the quay in Poole. As trains are her other fascination it seemed that a trip to Dorset and a ride around the World’s second largest harbour, would be the ideal day out.

So with a mid-morning start from Waterloo Station we set off for the two hour journey which went surprising quickly. Animal spotting was a major distraction, with cows (lots), sheep (even more) and horses (a few) providing the excitement, but all overwhelmed by passing close to Peppa Pig’s home in the New Forest.

The short taxi ride from the station dropped us right by Lord Baden Powell’s statue on Poole Quay. His unblinking gaze looked towards the harbour’s largest island Brownsea, now owned by the National Trust. It was on the island that Baden Powell set up an experimental camp which led to the formation of the Scout movement in 1908. We would pass close to Brownsea later and discover its connection to another social enterprise.

The Quay has a quaint charm about it with a hotchpotch of shops and buildings offering everything from fine dining to fish and chips, and sticks of rock to the world famous products from Poole Pottery.

Time to board the boat, the Solent Scene, which had just returned from it’s morning trip to Swanage, leaving passengers to spend the day in another charming Dorset coastal town. It was quite breezy on the day of our visit and we were pleased to be in the covered saloon of the boat with its panoramic windows. Leaving the Quay we gazed in envy at the luxurious Sunseeker yachts being fitted out before delivery to the world’s multi-millionaires. That feeling of envy continued as we got closer to Sandbanks, where the cost of a sea or harbour side property rivals that of Hong Kong, Tokyo or London.

As we passed Brownsea Island, one of the last refuges for the red squirrel, we spotted a castellated hotel building, now reserved for the exclusive use of the John Lewis ‘partners’. The majority of the island is accessible via a ferry which makes regular trips from the Quay.

Chugging through the harbour entrance the almost tropical sands of Shell Bay and Studland beach stretched away to our right. The beaches are served by a chain ferry from Sandbanks and carries both foot passengers and cars.

Ahead of us lay the eastern most point of the UNESCO World Heritage Jurassic Coast, marked by the three chalk formations of the Old Harry Rocks, we would later discover who the rocks were named after. The Jurassic Coast is a 95 mile long chain of dramatic chalk cliffs which are still yielding the fossils of marine and land animals from millennia ago.

Our grand daughter was enthralled by being out on deck, she squealed with delight at the ‘bubbles’, the boat’s wake. Squawking seagulls wheeled in the air above us and the knowledgeable skipper described points of interest as the coast slipped by. It was a great ride and we all felt better for some sea air.

Back at the Quay we were greeted by local guide ‘Granny Cousins’, alter ego of actress Michele O’Brien, who was suitably dressed in traditional Dorset clothes from the Victorian era. She showed us the places in and around this historic quarter where ghosts and ghouls hide and things go bump in the night. This tour normally runs on Mondays and Wednesdays starting at 8:00pm. During the 90 minute walk Granny Cousins really brought the history of the old town to life with tales of murder, mayhem and revenge. We finished in a delightful square of expensive mansions, built by merchants with the proceeds of trade in spices and Newfoundland salt cod.

The church in the middle of the square was once home to a treasured crucifix stolen from the Church of Saint Mary in Finisterra, Spain by the infamous Poole pirate Harry Paye. The Spanish raided Poole to re-claim the crucifix and to take back an extra piece of cargo, Harry’s head. Luckily, for him, he was out of town at the time. He was known locally as ‘Old Harry’, so his legacy lives on in the name of the rocks.

This had been a grand day out for all of us and we arrived back at Waterloo happy that we had enjoyed quality time with our grand daughter, who had been on her own adventure. Her final word on the day? She loved the wobbly blue bridge, which we eventually worked out was the gangway used to board the boat.

Useful links

For details of all the regular and themed cruises available
City Cruises Poole
www.citycruisespoole.com

For information about all the attractions in the area
Poole Tourism
www.pooletourism.com

For schedule, details and more information
Granny Cousins
www.micheleobrien.co.uk/granny-cousins.html

City Cruises

City Cruises plc is the leading operator of passenger services on the River Thames, carrying in excess of 2 million passengers annually on our extensive sightseeing, entertainment and charter services. City Cruises has been in operation since 1985. It has a fleet of 19 vessels, operating on the Thames as sightseeing boats.
www.citycruises.com

 

Share