The Perimeter

Day 31: Bournemouth to Wareham – Pines & Chines

Harry Ramsden’s, Bournemouth, Dorset.

I can just about make out Old Harry Rocks this morning – the dramatic chalk stacks near Swanage that are geologically connected to the Needles on the Isle of Wight. The rocks mark the start of the Jurassic Coast and a much more rugged landscape heading West – I can’t wait!

But now in Bournemouth beach huts are arranged by hue like paint swatches. A tractor passes to and fro methodically scraping the sand flat. Branksome beach cafe brings back happy memories of walking through the pines with my parents many years before.

Bournemouth Pier, Dorset.

Peering through the window of a Sandbanks Estate Agent reveals that most properties here are in the £1-7 Million price range. Surprised at the lack of architectural quality of these expensive houses, their main selling point seems to be bigness. Walking through the area is an underwhelming experience of high gates adored with CCTV, beware of dog and security company notices. I’m reminded of a damp version of the conservative parts of LA.

A queue of cars waits for the ferry to South Haven Point and the start of the South West Coast Trail – a tangible reminder that the geographical momentum has started to point West. I turn my back on the ferry to start the lengthy detour around Poole Harbour.

Bournemouth beach towards Sandbanks, Dorset.

“Good morning young man, are you ok? having a good day?”
It was drizzling and the Indian man confident in summer shirt and leather sandals is not much older than me.

A couple passes with heads obscured by a large umbrella though I can see his white brogues and hear the tap of Blakeys.

Net curtains in a garden shed. In Poole the aesthetic enhancement of a handsome Anthony Caro sculpture is completely negated by a spectacularly ugly viewing platform constructed next to it. This in turn is wrapped with vinyl banners advertising local businesses.

Bournemouth Aquarium, Dorset.

I take refuge from the rain in the Fisherman’s Cafe
“Do you want sugar luv or are you sweet enough?”

Good humour continues on the cafe walls with an advert for fishing trips on the Beowulf which shows a photo of a man struggling with both arms under the weight of a mighty fish with the caption ‘It’s not always like this, we have good days as well’

Passing by the Sunseeker factory capacious gin palaces are in varied states of completion. I catch wafts of fibre glass resin.

Canford Cliffs Chine, Bournemouth, Dorset.

Further on a sinister razor wired shipyard bearing the sign “No photography or sketching in accord with the official secrets act”. I love the idea of breaking out the easel and oil paints for a spot of forbidden surveillance.

Cattle track across strip lynchets. Footpath and underpass are closed. There is no way forward and I’m stuck between marshland and a main road. I try a bearing across the field which turns out to be impassably marshy. Holton Heath – Danger Contaminated Land. Liminal space is often interesting but here it’s frustrating . Barbed wire grabs at my trousers in the gloom. I scrabble up the embankment of a main road having no choice but to follow it on a narrow verge with trucks thundering past in the darkness.

Sandbanks, Poole, Dorset.