Dorset walk around Poole Bay and Evening Hill

View to Old Harry from Evening Hill

View to Old Harry from Evening Hill - Credit: Archant

Edward Griffiths enjoys an easy coastal stroll with sensational views towards Old Harry Rocks and then explores Canford Cliffs Village

There’s one superlative view over Poole Harbour that has always attracted visitors and residents alike to sit and stare for hours on end – Evening Hill. There are lots of benches on Evening Hill, so the dedicated harbour traffic watcher can observe the comings and goings to their heart’s content. But we won’t stay here long, as we’re going to walk the entire length of the inner harbour promenade. On breezy summer days this is usually a hive of activity with sail-boarders and wind surfers taking full advantage of the shallow water’s edge easy launching facility. This is the natural home of restored Volkswagen T2 Camper Vans!

After Evening Hill, we visit Canford Cliffs Village, Poole’s equivalent of Hampstead Village. Here we pass roads and residences bearing the name of the defensive Martello towers of the Napoleonic era. These circular towers were about 40ft high, garrisoned by up to 25 men and with a heavy gun mounted on the flat roof. Then, from Pinecliff Gardens and down the Zig-Zag to Branksome Beach Promenade and an easy return walk to Sandbanks Beach.


• Distance: 3½ miles (5.5km)

• Time: 3 hours

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• Exertion: Easy. One ascent to Canford Cliffs

• Start: Sandbanks Beach Car Park, Banks Road (Grid Ref: SZ045877)

• Map: OS Landranger Sheet 195

• Public Transport: Wilts & Dorset 50

• Dogs: No dogs on beaches and on leads on promenades between 1 May and 30 September. Find out where there are dog-friendly beaches at• Refreshments: Loch Fyne Restaurant or The Bakery in Canford Cliffs, and beach kiosks between Pinecliff Zig-Zag and Sandbanks Beach

The walk

1 From the Pay and Display Car Park, go to Banks Road roundabout and cross over to the pavement following Poole’s inner harbour. Turn right and begin your long stroll with individually styled blocks of flats positioned between the inner harbour and Poole Bay on your right. Past tamarisk bushes and reed beds, continue past Shore Road opposite. Pass Chaddesley Glen and Haven Road, where John Lennon bought his beloved Aunt Mimi a bungalow on the corner. This has now been replaced by something much grander. Reaching East Dorset Sailing Club, fork left off the road onto the promenade with banks of pines above.

2 When the promenade ends abruptly at a bench, walk up the fenced path and steps, but not including the crazy-paving steps at the top. Choose any of the benches and enjoy the great views of Poole Bay to Old Harry rocks, and over Brownsea Island to Ballard Down. Then descend the grassy slopes above the promenade, past the benches and along the wooden fence to Sandbanks Road, becoming Shore Road again where you passed East Dorset Sailing Club. Continue along the harbourside pavement and, in 250 yards, cross over to the ‘Footpath 85 from Alington Close’ pointer. Go through the 1½ gates into Luscombe Valley Nature Reserve and, after reading the information board, follow the right fence to the half-gate back into Shore Road.

3 Keep straight on over Brudenell Avenue, and walk back to Aunt Mimi’s corner. Turn left into Haven Road. Walk up the hill, passing several roads right and left and continuing around the left bend at Flaghead Chine and Flaghead Road. After right Pocket Park, turn right at the mini-roundabout into ‘Canford Cliffs Village’. Walk through the village, possibly enjoying a little shopping on the way. When the shops end, pass the right car park and Martello Park, and left Martello Road South. In this particular instance, all of these ‘Martello’ connections refer to a gazebo built by Sir Charles Packe of nearby Branksome Towers, the magnificent house which the Leicester MP built at the end of a long private drive now named ‘The Avenue’. Continue to Canford Cliffs Library on your right.

4 Go through its car park to Pinecliff Gardens cliff-top walk with enormous wooden insects and fine views to the Purbecks, Hengistbury Head, Bournemouth and the Isle of Wight. Reaching the sunken formal gardens, walk down the central steps, have a look around and go through the stone-walled exit onto the crazy-paved zig-zag cliff path. Down to the beach hut steps, turn right to begin a steady stroll back to the start. Pass the ‘Grand Canyon’ cliffs before Canford Cliffs Promenade and Chine, then pass Flaghead Chine. The promenade becomes Shore Road Promenade before Shore Road, from where the last stretch is along the beach back to Sandbanks Beach and Car Park where you started.

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