Poole Park Lake Paddleboarding
UK’s largest inland saltwater lake. The ideal spot to try out paddleboarding for the first time in a controlled and safe environment.
≈ Quick Facts:
- Launch point: Rockley Watersports Centre
- Size of lake: 600 metres across
- Best shelter from wind: All wind directions
- Best tide: Not tidal – Controlled by locks
- Pay to park: No
- Parking distance: 5 seconds walk
- Do you pay to launch: Yes
- SUP rental: Yes
- Wildlife: Swans, Geese & Ducks
- Eat & Drink: Yes
- Toilets: Yes
- Hazards: Goose Poo!
≈ Location Guide:
Where to park & launch a SUP at Poole Park Lake?
Follow the road signs to Poole Park from any direction. You will be able to drive into the park via three different entrances. You are looking for the Rockley Watersports Centre that is located right next to a very modern building that houses The Kitchen Café. They are right on the water’s edge.
There are three smallish car parks available, one of these located adjacent to the paddleboard hire centre. There is also an abundance of on road parking within the park. All of which fills up rather rapidly in the height of the Summer, so get there early.
There are two pretty decent cafe/restaurants situated in the park, ideal for an apres SUP coffee and cake. Both having been refurbished recently and both offer free toilet facilities. One of the cafes is attached to the same building as the Paddleboard centre.
Why choose Poole Park Lake for Paddleboarding?
Poole Park lake is the place to head for if you fancy trying out paddleboarding for the first time. The SUP Center offers taster sessions and short courses for all ages, and the prices are pretty reasonable too. Don’t be tempted to just rock up and chuck your plank in. That’s a total no no, you have to go through the Watersports centre, and will probably have to part with some cash.
I have only paddled there the one time. Somehow I was persuaded to run a team building day with some folks from work. It was hysterical, haven’t laughed so much in a long time! The centre kindly allowed me to use my own board for free, which was a Brucy bonus! The others were all first timers, so needed to hire equipment from the centre. Embarrassingly, even though I have been paddling for nearly 10 years, they still insisted that for safety reasons I MUST wear a float coat! Bit cringeworthy, not a great look! Dats the rules, and you must abide.
Surprisingly there isn’t a slipway to launch your self safely. The only option is to float the board alongside the path or scramble on board from their make shift pontoon. Not a major issue though, it’s only two feet deep along the waters edge, but still seriously funny for the spectators if you fall in!
On launching from the SUP centre you will initially be confronted with a variety of random water born contraptions and generally all of them are out of control. Pedalos, canoes, windsurfers, dingys, rowing boats and of course other paddleboarders. Mostly these people tend to remain fairly near to the centre though. So not a problem once you have weaved your way through the mayhem. You will then have the majority of Poole Park lake all to yourself. It’s a good size, roughly 600 metres across, enough to keep a newbie SUPr amused for an hour or so.
The lake is an excellent vantage point for looking back and enjoying the lush views of the park and Poole town beyond.
If you are feeling particularly ambitious, then you could paddleboard straight across the lake to the other side. You will find a train track running close to the water’s edge. Every so often a train heading in and out of Poole town centre comes rattling by, passenger faces peering out of every window at the stunning views across the lake, oh and at you waving dementedly (or is it just me that does that?? Hmm?)
If you are a tad squeamish then it’s highly recommended that you don’t fall in, otherwise you might find yourself knee deep in goose poo! Nice! I would recommend wearing some kind of footwear for this reason.
It’s relatively easy to scramble out of the lake if you want to have a rest for 5 minutes. Three quarters of the shoreline is either grass or a gravel path for walkers/joggers.
There is stacks of bird life scattered all over the lake. If you’re lucky you might get buzzed by a flock of low flying swans coming in to land. Quite a sight! This is when you fully appreciate just how huge these birds actually are when they literally fly inches above your head.
Oh by the way, about the team building day, I still smile when I think about that day. They were all totally useless but it didn’t matter one iota, they all had such a giggle, and that’s what counts isn’t it? I’m still smarting a bit over the float coat thing though! Ouch!