On the last weekend in September, we headed down to Poole, looking for brilliant things to do. It is a couple of hours drive from Bristol. I’m a fan of British seaside resorts ‘off season’, with less crowds you see a different side to a resort. Autumn is perfect, sea temperatures similar to August and empty beaches to enjoy. When the sun shines less and the beach isn’t a default option, you find yourself discovering a whole other side to a place. Poole proved it has lots of brilliant things to do.
1. Blue Flag Beaches.
In a place like Poole, you can’t ignore the beaches. There is a pleasure in wrapping up against the wind and enjoying the beach. Sandbanks, Branksome Chine and Canford Cliff beaches have soft golden sand and are all blue flag. Blue flags are awarded to beaches with quality of water, beach and facilities. On the afternoon we visited Branksome Chine, there were life guards and a clearly designed swim area. The Branksome restaurant is right on the beach and has a lovely afternoon tea menu. While, just beside the car park is a shop selling take away hot drinks, ice cream, buckets etc.
2. Walk the dog on the beach.
Lots of resorts beaches ban dogs for some or all of the year, however walk up from the car park at Branksome Chine and there is a stretch of beach which welcomes dogs all year round.
3. Window shop for dream homes.
Sandbanks and surrounding area has some of the biggest price tags for property, per square metre in the UK. Expect breath-taking modern homes with sea views. If you love to browse an estate agent window then this is the area for you.
More affordable dream beach hut on Branksome Chine.
We ate at Lakeside Fish and Chips a family run restaurant and take away with views across Holes Bay, delicious 8oz haddock and chips for £12.95. You could eat at Rick Stein at Sandbanks, waterside views at a 3 course lunch menu for £25.00 (booking essential).
5. Learn to kite surf.
On a blustery autumn afternoon, the wind seemed to be perfect for kite surfing and was a popular option. Places like Whitley Lake are ideal places to learn to kite surf. Surfers of all ages were striding out, waist deep in water. There are plenty of more challenging spots for experienced surfers.
6. Poole Park Lake.
If kite surfing seems too active, hire a pedalo or paddle boat on Poole Park lake. If remote control is more your pleasure, there is model boat area on the lake. Great for families, Poole Park has a cafe, toilets, a modern play area and miniature railway.
7. Walk the Cockle Trail.
An hour and half walk around town. Stroll the history of Poole from smugglers to D-Day launches. Simply pick up a guide from the Tourist Information Centre and follow the cockle symbols.
8. Something for a rainy day.
Poole Museum has four floors of local history. Including beautiful pottery and tiles. An Iron age long boat made from a single tree, one the largest found in the UK. The museum has a good cafe. Various season events. Corners for kids with colouring stations and dress up.
9. Peace and Quiet.
Discover Scaplen’s Court, a court-yard garden, tucked away in the old town. Restored by volunteers the garden was designed in the 1930s, while the buildings around it date from 1600s.
10. Brownsea Island.
Take a ferry to Brownsea and maybe spot a red squirrel. Owned by the National Trust and birth place of the Scouting movement. The woodland island sits in Poole Harbour. Yellow Island ferries make regular crossings from the quay.
The Royal Nation Lifeboat Institute is a much-loved and incredibly important national institution, providing life saving help at sea. The RNLI college on West Quay Road and offers tours, unique stays and a cafe. Every penny spent supports vital work. RNLI stories are as inspiring as they are often heartbreaking.
Heaps of arts and culture at Poole Lighthouse, which caters for every type of artsy taste. From kid films to thought-provoking talks. An eclectic schedule of comedy, visual arts, theatre and dance.
13. Poole Quay.
The old town has narrow, historic and very photogenic streets. A high street lined with unusual shops and a good choice of places to eat. Poole Quay, just in front of the old town is a row of cafes and shops. Watch fishing boats and super yachts on the water way. Climb the steps to get up close to ‘Sea Music’ the quayside Anthony Caro sculpture.
Get the maximum for the town and stay a night or two. Poole offer lots of accommodation options be it boutique or bed and breakfast. We stayed at the Travelodge on Holes Bay, just across the road from Poole Station. There is plenty of parking. We left the car and explored the old town, high street and quay on foot.
14 brilliant things to do in Poole in autumn in partnership with Travelodge. All words and views my own.