Hamworthy Two Island SUP
Hamworthy is a convenient gateway to SUP a string of beautiful, unspoilt islands dotted off the Southern shores of Poole Harbour.
≈ Quick Facts:
- Launch point: Lake Pier
- What is the distance: 5 miles
- How long does it take: 2 hour
- Shelter from wind: SE and NW
- Best tide: High slack tide or neaps
- Pay to park: £2 for day (March to October)
- Parking distance: 5 seconds walk
- Do you pay to launch: No
- SUP rental: No
- Wildlife: Sika deer, Peacocks and Seals
- Eat & Drink: Only an ice cream van in the summer
- Toilets: Yes
- Hazards: Deep mud shoreline at low tide & water ski area
≈ Location Guide:
Where to park & launch a SUP in Hamworthy?
There is a pay and display car park located at Lake Beach, Hamworthy. This spot is tucked out of the way in a residential area close to the Marine base. Drive to the end of lake drive and you’ll find a tiny sign on a lamp post saying “BEACH CAR PARK”. Get there by 11am in the Summer months. To find this spot you will need to follow the signs from Poole to Hamworthy. You can launch your SUP right off the beach from here. The beach is an excellent spot for the other half to sunbath while you’re out exploring. This mile long beach never gets too busy due to not being well known by tourists. Even in the height of Summer you’ll always find plenty of space to get horizontal.
About the Tides?
Best tide – Mid to high. Ideally you will need the sea level to be as high as the two island’s sandy beaches to make this Hamworthy SUP route doable. At low tide (even neaps), a lot of the route is either super shallow or exposed mud, making it impossible to fully complete the two island circuit, such as Arne bay, Middlebere lake & Corfe river. The water almost dries out around the top of Round island. Don’t even think about trying to walk your paddleboard around either, the mud will easily reach your knees or deeper on some stretches.
In a light southerly wind direction it would make your life easier to begin the trip by paddling up the left side (East side) of the islands first. The two islands will shield you from the wind in this direction until you finally reach the top of Round Island. After this you will then have a short stretch along the top where you will be exposed to the wind head on. After this point you will bear the paddleboard away to the right to begin a stunning downwinder on the other side of the islands.
What is there to see?
When you first step in to the water the sea bed is firm, a mix of sand and mud. This SUP route is ideal when the wind is light and blowing North Westerly. From Hamworthy SUP straight across the channel towards the Isle of Arne. A long strip of undeveloped land is situated directly across the water, opposite the car park. You will first need to paddleboard past the wooden pier (Lake Pier) and through a collection of moored yachts.
After this you will have to SUP across part of the permitted water ski area, this spans more or less the whole width of Wareham channel. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for crazy speed boaters not concentrating on where they’re going! I don’t trust them to spot me due to their main focus is looking backwards towards the skier.
It will only take 5 minutes to SUP this stretch, beach to beach. The Arne beach is actually surprisingly pretty, you are permitted to land on it if you fancy stopping for a minute. A good spot to take look back at where you have just launched from.
After here you will then need to SUP around the point of Arne and head up towards the West side of the islands that you will be circumnavigating later. Then you have a choice to either cut straight across the huge Arne bay on your right or SUP around the shoreline if the tide is high enough. The whole of Arne bay isn’t SUPable at low tide! Head over to the very inviting Arne beach on your right. This is the only other beach on the entire SUP around the two islands (Long Island and Round Island) where you’re allowed to land. Once you have hauled your paddleboard on to Arne beach you’ll be rewarded with stunning views back towards both Long and Round island.
In a straight line the Islands are not all that far a paddle from this vantage point. This beach is a great spot to chill for a while and soak up the scenery. If you’re in to wildlife then I would definitely recommend heading up one of the paths that run up the bank behind the beach. If you’re lucky you’ll meet a heard of Sika deer here. They basically roam free right across the Arne peninsular. You probably won’t have to walk very far at all before you come across them. In the Autumn you’ll hear them before you see them, this is their rutting season. The males are quite frisky this time of year, bellowing their boots off to impress the females.
Seals have been reported anywhere along the Wych channel. Sadly I haven’t seen any myself yet, but have seen videos taken by some of my kayaking mates. Probably would be better to leave at dawn when there is nobody about to disturb them. Once you’re back on board you will want to paddle straight over to Long Island, the nearest island. Only a few flicks of the paddle and you’ll be there. I usually head for the permanently beached canal boat to take a gander.
You’re NOT allowed to land, and that means nowhere on either of the islands! But you can SUP to the water’s edge and stand ankle deep to have a look, they can’t do much about that.
From this point there is usually a gathering of pleasure boats for you to weave your SUP through, they moor in the Wych channel (The channel between Mainland Arne and the Islands).
Continue paddling along the western side of the Islands after this, it’s really lush, stuffed with pine trees, the smell of them wafting across the water.
Quite often you’ll hear peacock calls echoing across the channel, they permanently live on the islands. The sound always brings a big smile to my face, you don’t hear that on many paddleboarding trips. Keep heading up towards Round Island directly ahead of you, which is where 2 houses can be seen on the left by a long wooden jetty. It’s a lovely setting.
Long and Round island are really one island, they are permanently connected by a strip of marshland between the two. Continue past these houses. You’ll next see a random conservatory sat on the hill overlooking the sea below, weird one.
After this you will paddle around the end of Round island (South end), there is a wide channel between the Purbecks and the Island here. Progressively the other islands scattered across Poole harbour come in to view, such as Brownsea Island, Furzey Island and Green Island. They are a fair way across from here, most of them more than a mile, so off limits for this paddle.
If you’re lucky you might get buzzed by a huge Hercules airplane heading back to base after parachuting exercises off Sandbanks beach. Impressive sight, they fly very low to the water! As you continue on around the Southern end of Round Island you will next see three swanky houses tucked away on your left. How on earth do you get to become an owner of one of these puppies???
After this point, for the next half a mile, there’s not too much to see on the East side of the islands, except for boggy marshland a few 100 meters deep running the full stretch of both islands. When you finally arrive at the Northern end of Long island the marshland is usually swarming with birds. In nesting season (June) the birds are deafening, they scream at anyone that has the audacity to pass by. From this spot you are now on the return leg back to Lake beach. You will pass Arne Bay again now on your left and then on down to Arne peninsular for the second time. From here take a slight detour across the channel towards the posh marina apartment complex named “Moriconium”, located just to the right of Lake Pier.
Gawp at the expensive, multimillion pound houses that also run along the shoreline. After making yourself feel very poor, head back to the Lake pier by weaving your way through the moored boats that run past the Marines base and up to Lake Pier.
Tip of the day!
Be very careful where you hop off your SUP! The majority of the sea bed around the islands is mud glorious mud! Knee deep, oily, black, nasty, smelly stuff that can stain your clothes and your equipment. Unless it clearly looks like sand below then don’t do it. Yuk!