Anyone who has been captivated by Dorset will relish this latest visit to one of Britain’s most spectacular counties. Your journey begins at Studland, where we take the Chain Ferry across Poole Harbour, first visiting the millionaires’ playground of Sandbanks.
A stroll around Poole Quay reveals how the town developed, largely through its trade links with North America; at its peak in the 18th century it was one of the busiest ports in Britain. In more recent times, it was a major embarkation point for the D-Day landings of the Normandy Invasion.
After looking at some of Poole’s most historic buildings, as well as Holes Bay and the national headquarters of the RNLI, we take a majestic boat trip around the second largest natural harbour in the world, which includes a view of Brownsea Island, where Robert Baden-Powell set up the first Scout Camp in 1907.
We then set sail on the world’s last seagoing paddlesteamer, Waverley, which berthed at Poole for the first time since 1987. As we reached Branksome Dene Chine, the presentation was handed over to distinguished Bournemouth historian and tour guide John Walker. John explains the history of significant sites such as the Royal Exeter Hotel, once home of the town’s founder Captain Lewis Tregonwell. You will also see St Peter’s Church, where Frankenstein author Mary Shelley is buried, enjoy a tribute to the town’s floral splendour, and visit the Pier, the Pavilion and the Bournemouth International Centre.
There is also time to call at Boscombe, Southbourne and the ancient town of Christchurch, famous for its splendid 11th century Priory and its stunning quay, before we finish our tour at Highcliffe, on the very edge of Hampshire.