There are no words to convey the feeling of hesitation when I woke up in another country, in a strange house with a black cat, in a strange bed wondering if I dream or spend abroad SUP holidays in reality.
My first morning in Poole was full of doubts. I closed and opened my eyes alternately waiting for my bedroom appearance. But when I saw my backpack next to the door, stuffed to the limits with clothes and accessories for the board, I finally believed that I was in the right place and only an hour separates me from fulfilling my dream of SUP-ing in Dorset with my favourite SUPGIRL Nadia.
Only a few months ago I discovered the beauty of landscapes and the rich architecture of Great Britain staying on the sofa as a faithful viewer of the British program “Escape to the country”. And in September I explored the south-west coast of England personally visiting places that lured me from my TV screen previously.
Jump on SUP
Our priority while arranging holiday schedule was undoubtedly sightseeing Dorset from the SUP board. Because the choice of places turned out to be too difficult for me I asked Nadia to take me to her favourites.
We set to the distance to cover: as close as possible. None of us wanted to lose a day for traveling. Even so we had to take into account closed ferry terminal in Poole, connecting Sandbanks with Studland, which adds extra kilometers when planning the route. Traffic jams caused by starting the school year at the beginning of September extended the time to travel to destination as well.
We treated the first floating as a warm-up and checking my skills on a hard board. I didn’t deal with this type of equipment before so I had to bear in mind possible difficulties.
We chose Branksome Chine Beach in Poole as the launching point, while the goal was to reach Bournemouth Pier. The hydrotechnical spur motivated me from the first wetting of the paddle but it didn’t eliminate my stress during taming the equipment. It was a wonderful experience admiring the cliffs bathed in the morning sun. Only perspective from the water let me see their density and an architectural diversity of buildings. I loved the beach huts at the foot of the slopes along the promenade. The “candy paints” of their elevations emphasized the seaside character of the area. I admit that I have never seen such beach arrangement.
The crowd was another novelty for me. There were only two people on boards who I passed during three years of floating on the Baltic Sea. Here, SUP-ing was like walking on the water promenade. I thought that Nadia and I would be alone early in the morning. After all,what normal people jump on SUP at 8 am on Sunday?
The smaller the distance to the pier was, the more the view at the heart of Bournemouth reminded me the one form “Delirious New York” book. I felt like coming to Coney Island. However, I found beauty in this urban hotch-potch and the whole perspective seemed to be consistent to me. I’m not surprised that this is the most attractive part of the city. The pier is a real amusement park. The tower at its end, which I thought to be a viewpoint on the surroundings until I noticed steel lines running to shore, turned out to be the beginning of the 250-meter downhill route Pier Zip Line. It’s hard to believe that the original pear construction was only 30 meters long.
It cost us a lot of effort to get back to Branksome Chine Beach. The west wind was playing with us. We were paddling sometimes without moving ahead. In the result, it took us almost an hour to cover 3 km distance. A cup of coffee was a good reward for wonderfully started day. But before I experienced the taste fulfillment I had to complete one task more. Swimming in the sea, which was kind of routine for Nadia, appeared to be a real challenge to me. I broke my thermal comfort after my long complaints about low water temperature and my friend even longer doping which in time turned into motivational shout. And a blackmail made me swim. I laughed through tears but I finished the task. I felt like a newborn. Half an hour later I enjoyed delicious coffee and a croissant with almond filling in the charming bakery Le Petit Prince. I got ready for new things.
We went to Studland to the sandy Knoll Beach next day to start the SUP trip to chalk formations of Old Harry Rocks which are the final part of the Jurassic Coast.
We were only 3 km away from this geological marvel. I wanted to reach the destination soon as possible. White rocks glimmered beautifully in the rays of the mid-day sun and were spectacularly reflected in the blue water of the sea. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I got close as possible to look at the effects created by wind and water for million years. I didn’t believe that I have one of the most beautiful parts of England at my fingertips. I could sit on the board and stare, stare, stare at, it if not disturbed by the rising wind. We got a hard time on the way back to Knoll Beach. Reaching Harry Warren House the 19th century Victorian country house, which I managed to capture in a photo somehow, meant that we were close to the South Beach and half the distance left to cover. I barely got to shore.
We finished our geological trip with a ritual of plunging in the sea and a moment of relaxation with a sweet accent of cream tea – delicious set of happiness. It is unforgettable taste of England.
Always plan B
Although we coped well with the wind, tides and the sea currents during the first two days, we didn’t dare to stand on the board till the end of my stay. Moreover, rain which appeared several times during the day influenced following our further holiday plans. Since we couldn’t see the SUP places from the water we chose walking as a classic way of sightseeing.
I recommend admiring Swanage from the Peweril Point where you can see best the SUP potential of the area. There is a wonderful panorama of Swanage Bay with the chalk cliffs of the Jurassic Coast and Old Harry Rocks in the northern part of the bay. The farther south, the more dense the sprawl is and the natural shore is engineered. Therefore, both lovers of natural and urban floating will find something for themselves here. Doubtless, the wooden Swanage Pier, steel slip for boats of the RNLI Swanage Lifeboat Station, the Wellington Clock Tower and an old quays made of stone are my pearls worth seeing from the water.
We visited West Lulworth to continue my geological tour of the Jurassic Coast. Instead of getting Lulworth Cove by the main road Nadia chose more difficult track. We turned left into Bindon Road at Cove House and after 50 meters we got a field path on the right side of the road, thus starting demanding walk up the hill. We reached the cliff taking the South West Coast Path.
The view of the bay knocked me down. I was taking photos all the time wanting to catch more views of the landscape changing under influence of the sun and clouds. I didn’t pay attention where I was going to. Blackberry hedges, separating me from the edge of the cliff, saved my life several times. A walk along the pebble beach was safer for me and the landscape was equally amazing. I wished we had a picnic basket with us.
Rather than lazing around we went to the viewpoint, located on the west side of Lulworth Cove, to see the small Stair Hole bay explored eagerly by SUP users.
Then we went down to the huge parking lot to continue the walk to Durdle Door sticking to the South West Coast Path. The number of cars seemed that the footpath to Durdle Door would be very crowded. In turn, we had to adjust the march walk to the others and line up to take photos of sea impressions. Durde Door was the icing on the cake of our trip. If I could go back to geology lectures on the first year of my studies, I would like to have the erosion process explained in this place. That would be very valuable lesson. I found the rock formation as a majestic sculpture placed in the sea on purpose. Only the whole composition was disturbed by tourists, especially those lying on the beach. It was a pity to see people climbing the rock and then jumping into the water. I regretted that such unique natural place is open to the public and doomed to devastation.
We chose the way back to West Lulworth through meadows and pastures keeping ourselves away from the noise and crowds.
I walked in silence wondering if I ever come back here.
We were unable to find a weather window for floating in Poole too. A walk along Poole Harbour made me aware of the possibilities that this city gives to people doing water sports. This is not only an attractive location but also well developed infrastructure: shops, outlets with equipment, rentals and water sports schools. All this at your fingertips, available immediately 7 days a week.
That is why I love this region for its huge SUP potential. The number of unique places to discover seems endless without boredom and monotony. I would give a lot to go back to Dorset but this time for longer.