We all know that talking to the locals is one of the best ways to get the real lowdown on a place. I’m usually pretty good at striking up a conversation but occasionally, if there are very few folks around, I’ll vow to speak to the next person who appears on the horizon. Last year, in this very spot waiting to board the Sandbanks chainlink ferry for the short hop over to Studland, I did just that.
Spotting my prey in a distant figure cycling towards me in the distance, I waited. For once I found it incredibly easy to maintain unwavering eye contact with the chap when he drew up next to me as he was stark naked. Behind him were flashing blue lights in hot pursuit. As he was led away I overheard a police officer grumble “Gross..it’s a hired bike too”
When the case came to court the defence claimed that the cyclist was not naked as he was wearing socks and shoes. In addition, during a seven mile cycle through Bournemouth and Poole there were only two official complaints from the public. I’ll leave you to decide what that says about the folks in Dorset…
Sandbanks Ferry is a vehicular chain ferry which crosses the entrance of Poole Harbour in the English county of Dorset. The ferry connects the towns of Bournemouth and Poole with Swanage and the Isle of Purbeck. This avoids a 25 mile journey by road. As you may have heard, Sandbanks boasts some of the expensive property prices in the world. And the property itself is rather quirky.
Foot passenger fare on the ferry is currently one pound which is a one way charge, applied only from the Sandbanks side. See here for all current charges. The journey takes minutes but one chap obviously couldn’t wait and whipped his rod out right on the chainlink station. This day was turning out just as I like: offering huge potential.
As we clattered across the tiny span of water (noisy chains, remember) a child began releasing streams of bubbles into the air. Rather than simply bursting or disappearing rapidly in the breeze they stayed put and enveloped the deck in a shimmering, glassy rainbow. For once I wished I was back on shore as judging by the people pointing from the quayside we must have cut a pretty picture. A huddle of boats waited as we passed before continuing on into Poole harbour. I was reminded of an incident several years ago when a 72 year old woman out in a dinghy was sucked under the ferry only to pop up like a cork, shocked and bewildered on the other side. Her husband, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Royal Artillery said afterwards “I saw my wife go under and I thought, ‘Oh bother’.” Bless you lovely chaps.
Harry Redknapp owns one of the fabulous houses overlooking the harbour – it always amazes me that the fabulous beaches of Sandbanks and Studland along with the beautiful Brownsea Island are just a whisper away yet many tourists opt instead to take a boat trip to ogle the houses!
As the cars rumbled off towards Old Harry Rocks and the brilliant Bankes Arms pub, I, as usual, took the opposite direction and clambered over the rocks towards the beach. An immediate turn to your right on stepping off the ferry brings you to Shell Bay with its seafood restaurant. Studland is well worth a lengthy visit but I only had a couple of hours to spare today so was just out for a mosey along the beach. All six native British reptiles live at Studland: sand lizards, common lizards, slow worms, grass snakes, adders and the rare smooth snakes. The sand is glorious here – perfect for sandcastles and scattered with shells and surprisingly pretty seaweed. This beach has been voted one of the best in Britain and was the inspiration for Toytown in Enid Blyton’s Noddy. What more could you possibly need to know..?
A few hundred metres on there is a sign to welcome or warn you (depending…) that here begins the start of the naturist beach.
I guess this was the destination of our eager chap on the bicycle. Anyway, proceeding further on or indeed spending the afternoon on this beach is entirely up to you. Guess you’d never be short of somewhere to park your bike.