The Dorset walk – Green spaces and quiet roads
Matt Wilkinson and Dan Bold sample an urban walk for a change
Published in March ’11
Some years ago, we gave a route taking in Bournemouth gardens and beach and Branksome Chine. It made for an unexpectedly good walk, so perhaps it is time to give similar treatment to Bournemouth’s neighbour, Poole. There is a surprising amount of green space to be found in the town, and plenty to see of historical interest.
Most notable is the Old Town, which was revived in the 1960s and 1970s; today, its ancient buildings are shown to their best advantage, yet it is still a genuine community. The route then takes in almost all of the busy Quay and much of Parkstone Bay before heading inland to Parkstone with its large green central area and the historic church of St Peter’s. It is that rarity, a successful piece of Victorian church architecture, and is also used as an effective concert venue.
The 110-acre Poole Park is a tremendous asset to the town. On land given by Lord Wimborne, it was opened in 1890 by the Prince of Wales. The ceremony was actually conducted in the booking office of Poole station, due to terrible weather throwing all the careful arrangements into confusion!
Distance: About 4¾ miles
Terrain: Paths and pavement
Start: The car park next to the Dolphin Swimming Pool in Kingland Road, Poole. OS map reference SZ019909. Postcode BH15 1TN.
How to get there: From the George roundabout at the eastern end of Towngate Bridge, in the centre of Poole by Barclays House, take Kingland Road and pass Lighthouse on the left. At the top of the slope, take the second exit from the roundabout and the car park is on the right after the swimming pool.
Maps: OS Explorer OL15 (Purbeck & South Dorset); OS Landranger 195 (Bournemouth & Purbeck); Estate Publications – Bournemouth
1. Walk back out of the car park by the same way as you entered. Turn left on the road and walk up to the roundabout at the top. Cross Mount Pleasant Road and bear left, downhill. Pass Lighthouse and cross Seldown Lane to reach an underpass. Take this, and at the far side turn right to follow the pavement with the road on the right and the Dolphin Shopping Centre on the left. Bear left round the end of the shopping centre, with Barclays House across the road on the right, and continue on the pavement alongside a slip road as the main road rises onto Towngate Bridge on the right.
2. At a crossroads under the flyover, turn left to reach Falkland Square via a covered arcade of shops. At the end of the shops on the right, turn right to cross the level crossing and walk straight ahead down Poole High Street. Where the street forks, in front of a building that was obviously once a bank, take the right fork into Hill Street. At the end of the street, go straight ahead into Market Street, walk down the side of the historic Guildhall and continue into the heart of Poole Old Town via Church Street with St James’s church on the right. At the bottom of Church Street turn left into Thames Street and walk down to the Quay, where turn left.
3. Walk the whole length of the Quay, pass the yacht haven and the former lifeboat house, now a museum, and continue on the pavement, staying as close to the water’s edge as possible. The path leads eventually onto Baiter, a large grassy area of reclaimed land, and round the edge of Parkstone Bay. When an area of open grass opens up on the left, with play equipment and pitches, bear slightly left to head for a one-storey white pavilion with red doors on the other side of the grassy area.
4. Pass to the right of it, walk through the parking area, cross the road and walk up Wedgwood Drive, which should be almost directly ahead. Right at the end of Wedgwood Drive, turn left, then right up a path which leads up the left-hand side of no. 108. At the top, turn left, then take the second on the right (Mill Lane). Bear right in front of Baden-Powell and St Peter’s Middle School onto a track. In a clearing at the end of the track, turn left on a path between two fences. At the road, turn left and walk up to the next T-junction, where turn right. At the crossroads turn left and turn left again at the next T-junction to cross the Osborne Road railway bridge.
5. Continue down Station Road and on the corner of Church Road on the right, turn half-right into the greenery of Parkstone Park. Fork right to walk along the top of the park to the next corner, where leave the park and cross the main road to Lloyds TSB and in a few yards bear left into Church Road. Turn left in front of St Peter’s Church into Parr Street. Follow it down to traffic lights and go straight across, walking down Britannia Road with the crenellated tower of Parkstone Library to the left.
6. At the bottom, cross Sandbanks Road and head down to the right of the red-brick building ahead. At the end of the path, turn directly right and, where the road forks, left into Copse Close. As Poole Park opens up on the left, bear left onto the grass and continue ahead to a path by a small car park on the right. Turn left on the path, keeping a paling fence on the right. Just after passing the engine shed of the Poole Park Railway, turn right over a bridge.
7. Walk alongside the railway until it reaches the end of the pond. Here turn left and walk straight ahead to cross the road into a car park next to the large boating lake. Keep the lake to the left and follow its edge all the way past the war memorial and the Mezza Luna, until the lakeside path emerges onto a road with a children’s playground on the right. Here turn right and walk up to the car park on the left.