Holes Bay SUP (Poole Harbour)
Holes Bay is another excellent Poole SUP spot to get away from the crowds. This section of Poole harbour is rarely paddled but there is a surprising number of things to see.
≈ Quick Facts:
- Launch point: Asda – Poole town centre
- What is the distance: 3 miles circular route
- How long does it take: 2 – 4 hours
- Shelter from wind: West side in South Westerly
- Best tide: High Spring
- Pay to park: Yes at Asda
- Parking distance: 5 seconds walk
- Do you pay to launch: No
- SUP rental: No
- Wildlife: Rare sea birds
- Eat & Drink: 2 restaurants & 2 cafes
- Toilets: Yes (Asda & Costa)
- Hazards: Debris on sea bed & mud at low tide
≈ Location Guide:
Where to park & launch a SUP at Holes Bay?
There are a variety of spots around Holes bay that you can park and launch a SUP. One access point is the RNLI slipway where you can park nearby for a maximum of 2 hours for free. You can also launch from some of the roads in Hamworthy, with no time limit and also totally free. The ideal spot though is to park at the waterside ASDA located in Poole town centre. There is a variety of places to grab some food and coffee, such as Lakeside fish and chips, Subway, Costa and the Asda cafe. There are also numerous toilets.
To launch your SUP you will need to make a fairly easy scramble down a rocky sea wall to enter the water. It is only advisable to SUP Holes Bay at the top of a normal high tide or ideally a Spring high tide. There are two reasons for this, firstly there is a fair bit of debris dotted about the seabed, deposited over the years by fly tippers and working boats. I once made the mistake of paddleboarding Holes Bay in a medium high tide. Unfortunately I smacked into a scaffold pole hidden just under the water’s surface. Put a monster hole in the hull of my SUP, wasn’t best pleased I can tell you! I’m guessing it had been driven in to the sea bed for the purpose of mooring boats. The second reason is that when the tide goes out, it REEEALLY goes out! Literally most of Holes bay will transform in to a mud bath in a matter of hours. You will be totally kippered if this happens, you will struggle to walk back to the shore, horrible stuff. My advice is to never SUP here in an outgoing tide, only incoming or mid high.
What’s there to see when you SUP Holes Bay?
A train viaduct divides Holes bay into two distinct halves. On one side is Poole town centre and low level boat traffic, on the other, beautiful countryside and no boats to stir things up!
All of Holes bay is accessible, but remember it MUST only be paddled on a high tide. After launching your SUP, paddle to the left past the new multi-coloured apartment complex and Lakeside fish and chip restaurant. After this point you will be greeted with a stunning view of the newly built and very contemporary looking RNLI building. This serves as their head office and college.
After this point the new Twin Sails lifting bridge comes in to view and one of the many Sunseeker boat building sites. You won’t get much change out of £10 million for one of those puppies. On this SUP use the bridge as your marker to turn right.
You’ll pass an open piece of green space on your left which used be the location for Poole power station back in the day. This land has been earmarked for re-development at some point in the future. Just after this point there is a water side residential area situated on the left. There are a few spots along this stretch where you can jump off and take in the views back to Poole.
From here head on up to Cobbs Quay Marina situated on the shores of Hamworthy. I have launched my SUP from Hawkwood Drive in the past, which is at the waters edge just after Cobbs. Definitely only launch at Spring high tide from here, this is the spot where my board came to blows with the submerged scaffold pole! Grrrrr! From here you can head out to deeper water via the narrow channels in the marshland.
Then SUP up to your left towards a nondescript, low profile bridge built into the Upton train viaduct. Paddle under this, you will probably have to duck a bit unless you’re only a metre tall. This takes you to the other half of Holes Bay, the quiet side!
The main point of interest here is the heavily tree covered Pergins Island (also known as Doughty’s Island), which I actually don’t think should be called an Island at all. You cannot actually SUP all the way around it. One side is muddy marshland permanently connected to the main land. The island is uninhabited and I believe you are not permitted to walk on it anymore.
In the distant past people used to camp here. Another bit of useless information, rumor has it that the people of Poole used to take ‘witches’ to Pergins, tie them to the trees and leave them to die. Gruesome!
The other point of interest here is the tree lined perimeter of Upton Country Park. This runs down to the shores of Holes bay, all the way along the west side of Pergins Island. Upton park is very lush in the Summer, with plenty of trees and open spaces to enjoy a walk.
Once you have finished exploring this area SUP around to the East of Pergins and paddleboard right across to the other side of Holes bay. You’ll see a tarmac path at the water’s edge. This runs into Upton Country park one way and all the way back to Asda the other. The path has the noisy A350 dual carriageway running next to it, this takes you back in to Poole. Tons of bird life congregate in this corner of Holes Bay, some of it pretty rare apparently. This area is known to be one of the best places to see the bird life anywhere in Poole Harbour. Hang a right here and SUP parallel with the path. There is a scrappy beach all the way along this side of Holes bay where it is possible to land the SUP for a breather. Be careful though, the beach is quite rocky.
Onwards from here you will find a second equally nondescript rail bridge that you can also duck under. This end of the track is known as Creekmoor Viaduct. If you’re lucky you might get to see a train pass over the top. Give them a wave, it’s very rare paddleboarders are seen up this part of Poole Harbour.
From here you can either follow the deeper water (not that much deeper) of the boat channel back to the car park or alternatively continue to follow the path all the way back. Either option is good. Enjoy! 🙂