Dorset walk - Holes Bay and Poole’s Twin Sails Bridge

PUBLISHED: 15:50 05 March 2015 | UPDATED: 15:50 05 March 2015

Watching the sunset from the RNLI HQ  in Holes Bay

Watching the sunset from the RNLI HQ in Holes Bay


Edward Griffiths walks through the bird rich reed beds of Poole’s upper harbour and admires a grand Georgian house in Upton Park

North of Poole’s stylish new Twin Sails Bridge is the upper harbour area known as Holes Bay. Though very shallow at this point, the harbour has two deeper channels - Creekmoor Lake and Upton Lake - which lead into Back Water Channel before the new bridge. At its northernmost end, the railway to Weymouth crosses the harbour on an embankment and steel bridges across the two channels. Beyond this, there’s a little wooded island called Pergins Island which is clearly visible from the shoreline below Upton House which is where this walk starts.

Upton House was built in 1816 by Christopher Spurrier. The Spurriers profited from the lucrative Newfoundland trade in the 18th and early-19th centuries but Christopher was exceedingly profligate and had to sell the house to Edward Doughty in 1828. In 1830, his business collapsed with £26,000 in debts. Poole Borough Council bought Upton House and its 100 acres of garden and woodland in 1957 and the grounds are now enjoyed by the public.

On this winter walk do look out for visiting birds that make Holes Bay, with its reed beds, mud flats and tidal reaches, their home during the colder months.



• Distance: 5 1/2 miles (8.75km)

• Time: 4 1/2 hours

• Exertion: Easy and level. No stiles. Some mud on front lawn of Upton House

• Start: Upton House, Poole (Grid Ref: SY992931)

• Map: OS Landranger Sheet 195

• Public Transport: None to Upton House in winter, but you could start the walk at Poole Railway Station on Point 4

• Dogs: On leads in Upton Park and on roads

• Refreshments: Various fish and chips, sandwiches and snacks outlets on Blandford Road, all on the route


The Walk

1 From the car park and conveniences, follow the Tarmac paths to Upton House itself. Facing away from the closed kiosk on Upton House front, walk half-right down the lawn, just left of the Holm oak, to the grassy path leading left of an evergreen pine. Continue on the gravel path to the Walled Garden gate. Through, take a little time to look around the garden before leaving by the opposite gate. Turn left onto the ‘Shoreline’ gravel path, passing the left Plant Centre and right kennels. Continue across the lawn to meet a wider track. Down to the left shelter, take the ‘Shoreline’ path. Down over a footbridge, fork right into trees, keeping the Holes Bay shore left. Pass a ‘Shoreline Trail’ sign on the right farmland fence.

2 Follow the boardwalk through reed beds with views across to Poole. Meeting a fenced railway embankment and stream, bend right and follow the tree line. Through the end kissing-gate, turn left onto the ‘Symes Road’ path under the railway arch. Between houses into Symes Road, turn left on ‘Cycleway 2 Town Centre’, then take the first left turning. Join the Tarmac path left of No. 177 and follow this path between shoreline and houses. Over the bridge by twin pylons, keep left over the green, near the shore and past more houses. As you see Cobbs Quay boatyard ahead, the path bends right, still along the shore until a lesser path forks left. Follow this path along the shoreline to another green, and keep following the shore.

3 Before the green ends, turn right into a cul-de-sac leading to Harkwood Drive. Turn left and, round the bend, turn left again into Woodlands Avenue. Pass left Cobbs Quay and continue to the right bend into Hinchcliffe Road. Walk up to the Co-Op and chip shop traffic lights. Turn left onto Blandford Road and keep straight on, passing several dining opportunities. Past the Library and Ashmore Avenue traffic lights, turn left at the next traffic lights into Rigler Road for ‘Twin Sails Bridge’. Follow the new fenced road round to and over Twin Sails Bridge, notice the old lifting bridge to your right. At West Quay Road traffic lights, turn left. Continue along West Quay Road, passing left RNLI College and its life saving sculpture. Reaching Asda, turn left past its orange pillars and along past the shop’s restaurant windows. Continue right of Asda’s car park and over the zebra crossing to Aqua apartments. At the bronze and steel sculpture, turn right along the harbour side path/cycleway to the A350 with Poole Station opposite.

4 Turn left and follow the harbour side path for 1¾ miles, only diverting from the shoreline to follow the ‘Upton Country Park’ path right, up and over the railway bridge over the ‘Broadstone’ turning, and over another bridge at a river outlet. After another short diversion over a water-drainage channel, the path ends at the entrance to Upton House Park. Through into the park, follow the woodland path with a right field and left shoreline. Reaching the ‘Holes Bay Cycleway’ post, go through the kissing-gate into the park path for a few yards before meeting a right pond. Turn right at the pond and walk up the lawn to Upton House back to where you started.



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