Poole Harbour is the second largest natural harbour in the world covering an area of 14 square miles. There are a number of options for cruising in the harbour with stalls along the quayside advertising the various trips.
We opted for the City Cruises Harbour Lights Cruise, which was due to depart at 7 pm for a 90 minute cruise around the harbour. The cost of the cruise was £11.50. In addition, City Cruises offer trips further along the coast to Swanage (with option to disembark and return on a later boat) and the Jurassic Coast, plus special cruises such as the Thursday Firework Cruise, Murder Mysteries, musical evenings etc.
It took a little longer than anticipated to find a parking space, so we didn’t have time to buy dinner beforehand, only just making it to the quay by 7 pm. When we arrived, we were told that our cruise had been combined with the 7.30 pm Fish & Chips cruise. So, we sat in the sunshine on the quayside and had a couple of glasses of wine before boarding.
Once on board, we set off in a clockwise direction around the harbour towards Brownsea Island. The tour has an informative running commentary, so I now know that Brownsea Island is the largest of five islands situated in the harbour. It is owned by the National Trust and is open to visitors between March and October.
We need to stop briefly to let the chain link ferry, which crosses the mouth of the harbour between Sandbanks and Studland, go past. Meanwhile, those who booked the Fish & Chips Cruise are served their food. I’m starving, so it’s tortuous watching other passengers eating their dinner. The smell wafts across the deck making me even hungrier. There’s only one thing for it – finish the wine my friend has secreted in her handbag, together with a bag of crisps (it’s a big handbag).
We set sail again towards the Purbecks, chased by jet skiers racing across the bay.
We reach Old Harry; named after an infamous local pirate, this chalk stack is the last in a line of formations which mark the start of the Jurassic Coast. I’ve walked/run to the top of the cliff a few times, but this is my first view of the rocks from the other side, and it’s quite a view!
At this point, the boat turns and heads for home into the sunset, which provides us with a different, even more stunning view of the rocks with the setting sun behind them.
We cruise back towards the quay whilst enjoying watching the sun set beneath the harbour.
Our return voyage takes us along the edge of Sandbanks; dubbed Millionaires’ Row with allegedly the fourth highest property prices in the world, this row of 13 houses has a combined value of almost one hundred million pounds.
We continue past plenty of yachts. Another reminder of how the other half live, as we pass by on our £11.50 cruise, sipping supermarket wine from plastic cups.
We arrive back at Poole Quay just as it is getting dark. We’ve really enjoyed our cruise around the harbour with its beautiful scenery and amazing sunset. Unfortunately, the chip shop has closed by the time we arrive, so we go in search of dinner elsewhere.