Sunday, August 12, 2012

20 miles around Poole Harbour

Poole Harbour is the third biggest natural harbour in the world, apparently, after Rio and Sydney (or the second according to The Famous Five books, but what do they know). Going around the edge of it in a kayak is certainly a good way of realising just how big it is.

Jon was away in Wales on holiday, and Stu and I decided on a change of scenery so moved along the coast westwards and, at about 6.30am on Sunday morning we got into the water at Baiter Park, Poole,  where there is a slipway and carpark on the north east side of the harbour. Across the water in the morning gloom was Brownsea Island, home of the Scouting movement.

Getting ready to go, 6.30am at Baiter Park, Poole

Baiter Park Slipway. The water in Poole Harbour looked a bit choppy, but perfect for a morning paddle

We set off anti-clockwise, paddling across the entrance to the ferry terminal and quay area, and past the Condor catermaran where the industrial area of Poole turned into the more natural low cliff, wetland and beach environment which makes up the vast majority of the length of the coastline of the harbour.

It was a lovely morning but the most unexpected part of the environment we were in was that the conditions were so changeable. As we paddled around the western edges of the harbour, the water was like a mirror, lovely and flat. At other times, for example when we later crossed back from Brownsea to Baiter Park, it was like a washing machine, and the sort of conditions we've paddled through in Southampton Water.

Elsewhere in the harbour, the water was stunningly flat

But the scenery was stunning, at one point there were deer on the shore, although at another point the view was interupted by a number of people lying on the shore who appeared to have been there all night (it was still only 7.30am). There was also the occasional tent back from the beach.

It reminded me that the bloke who sold me my sit-on kayak, whol lived in Poole, had told me that he regularly set out in the early summer evenings into the harbour and camped on the shore on the other side.

A break at 10.5m. Stu refused to leave his kayak given (quite rightly) he won't be able to do so in the Channel

This wasn't exactly a testing paddle but, importantly, we cracked the 20 miles barrier which, just a couple of weeks before our Channel crossing could potentially take place, we felt was an important one to get over.

A quick stop, assessing the traffic between Brownsea Island and Baiter Park as we near the end of the paddle. At this point we'd completed almost 19m

The final stretch between Brownsea and Baiter Park was the choppiest of the day by far, plus there was a little bit of traffic to work our way through. But when we beached back at Baiter we knew we'd broken the 20m barrier for the first time, and then felt pretty good.

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