Dorset walk around Poole Park and Baiter
PUBLISHED: 16:58 17 September 2015
Edward Griffiths enjoys an easy summer stroll around a picturesque ‘people’s park’ before exploring Poole’s bustling quayside and one of the town’s oldest streets
In 1885, Sir Ivor Guest, Lord Wimborne of Canford Magna, gave some land to Poole Corporation to be used as a ‘People’s Park’. The 100 acre park, with five ornamental gateways, roads and paths, cost around £7,500 to create. It was opened by HRH, The Prince of Wales on 17 January 1890. Half of the park consists of a large saltwater lake and a smaller freshwater lake. The other half is grassland, flower beds, shrubs, trees and a cricket pitch. In 1875 the London and South West Railway Company laid tracks across Parkstone Bay, and this embankment forms the park’s seaward boundary. Tennis courts and the miniature railway were built in 1948 and a new Bowling Club pavilion was opened in 2001. The following year, Poole Park gained Grade II listing from English Heritage, and improvements in 2007 included the Boat Shed restaurant (now The Kitchen) and two reed beds to provide additional habitat for birds and wildlife.
This relaxing walk follows Poole’s inner harbour from the bustling quayside, past Fishermen’s Dock to Baiter. After Poole Park, the walk meanders through part of Poole Town’s newest residential area and along one of its oldest streets with the High Street a stone’s throw away.
• Distance: 3¼ miles (5.25 km)
• Time: 2¼ hours
• Exertion: Easy. No hills. Dry firm surfaces, child-buggy friendly
• Start: Baden-Powell statue by Brownsea Island Ferry’s kiosk on Poole Quay (Grid Ref: SZ011903)
• Map: OS Landranger Sheet 195
• Public Transport: Wilts and Dorset Route 1 to Poole Quay from Poole Bus Station, X53 to Seldown Bridge
• Dogs: On leads in park and on roads
• Refreshments: Poole Quay kiosks, and many local cafes and pubs for lunches. The Kitchen and Scoops ice cream parlour in Poole Park.
1 Facing Brownsea Island, where Major General Baden-Powell, the hero of Mafeking and founder of the Scout movement held the first ever camp for boys in 1907, go left along the quay, passing Poole Yacht Harbour. Reaching Fishermen’s Dock, with views of Brownsea Island over the rock-armour breakwater, go around the old Lifeboat Station and along the path between benches and fishing net racks. On reaching the beach, keep following the harbour path for ‘Harbourside Park’. The concrete footings in the beach are remains of the old seawater swimming baths. Passing left Furnell Road, keep straight on parallel with Labrador Drive. Follow the path alongside Baiter car park and field, past ‘Baiter Slipway’ and the ‘Whitecliff’ pointer. Baiter was the site of plague burial grounds and the 1837 Isolation Hospital. The square stone ruined building was the old Powder House where gunpowder was unloaded from ships entering Poole, well away from the quay and its buildings, in case of accidents. Looking ahead, you see a long low white wall below some houses. This will be your target shortly.
2 When the field gets narrower, and you pass the outlet from Poole Park’s lake, notice the large white building left of a church spire in the left distance. This is Poole Hospital. The Bournemouth to Weymouth railway is on your left and, after the railway’s chain-link fence veers towards a brick-arched tunnel, take the left Tarmac path towards that long white wall. Through the fence-gate, turn left along the road for ‘Poole Park via Keyhole Bridge’. Through the bridge, pass the Model Boat Lake and go through Whitecliff Entrance gateway. Keep following the seawater lake’s edge. Past the right freshwater lake with the Miniature Train track and The Ark restaurant, keep following the seawater lake path, but notice the avenue of trees and the flower beds. Go through, or round, the Remembrance Garden to both World Wars, and pass the right tennis courts and bowling club.
3 After The Kitchen restaurant, head across the lawn to the cast-iron fountain. From here, turn left to pass the crazy golf and follow the drive out of the park at Seldown Lodge and West Gate. Cross Kingland Road onto the Swimming Pool concourse. Cross the car park road onto Seldown Bridge with the Lighthouse Theatre over to your right and a multi-storey car park facing you. Turn left up and over Seldown Bridge to find several complexes of new flats with the Purbeck hills in the distance. At the pedestrian crossing, take the right path down past Aldi’s. Cross Pitwines Way and go left to Newfoundland Drive T-junction.
4 Cross the road using the refuge, then turn right passing older houses to your left. Past Sainsbury’s on the right, meet the Foundry Arms roundabout. Keep straight on, passing left Old Town Infant School, along Lagland Street, with Poole High Street parallel on your right through various passages. Pass the tree-shaded blocks of flats and the left Cockleshell pub and a sign pointing to ‘High Street Shops’ across to your right. Crossing Skinner Street notice the United Reformed Church dating from 1777 and renovated in the 1880s, on your left. Reaching Old Orchard, facing the multi-storey car park, turn left. Past right Strand Street, you’re back on Poole Quay where you started.
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