In the year City won the League Cup with this goal

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I spent my last summer holiday before secondary school in Swanage, buying football related tat and playing mini-golf.  The pubs made no impression on me then, sorry to say.

In 40 years nothing much has changed. This quintessential English seaside town has seemingly resisted the gentrification of Southwold and micro-pubs of Ramsgate, relying instead on (great) ice cream, steam trains and arcade games. I guess that Wells-Next-The Sea is no different.

The Red Lion is the only Swanage pub that has troubled the Guide in recent years, but it looked like it would still be there on a return visit. Ideal ground for a micropub, let alone a Wetherspoons.

Never mind the pubs though, you come for the views.

40 years ago I missed out on the South West Coast Path from Shell Bay to Swanage, a wonderful leg stretcher through sand dunes and grassland, with a first view of the Old Harry chalk stacks a highlight. A reminder to book that Isle of Wight daytrip too.

20160331_115024.jpgYour first reintroduction to the 21st century returning from Purbeck is Sandbanks, an anomaly in Poole, which otherwise looks rather more industrial than the rest of the south coast. The working-town feel  continues in much of the high street, which lacks the modernisation you’d expect from a town of nearly 150,000.

Ex-Swan, Poole

The Swan has the sort of tiling you normally see in Walsall or West Brom. This beautiful place is up for sale, but the rest of central Poole’s pubs looked in relatively good health.  I remembered some particularly boisterous places from previous visits (Bricklayers ?, Gas Tavern ?) that I failed to find this time.

The Brewhouse is the sole real pub in the pedestrianised shopping area. It’s a basic drinkers pub with Milk Street beers and the real potential to be confused with new American styled brewpub Brewhouse & Kitchen when Simon Everitt visits, which is good.

My favourite in Poole was the Rope & Anchor, a plain but comfortable all-rounder with friendly service and a pint of 6X (NBSS 4 and from the barrel) that proved it’s still a great beer in a decent pub.

This is on the edge of the small Old Town, which is really just The Quay.  The smartest place was Fuller’s Blue Boar, an ivy covered survivor unpromisingly stuck between the car parks and shops.

Only one beer on here, and that was an excellent ESB, an ideal session beer for Mrs RM, but not me. The chap next to me ordered a fillet steak to eat at the bar, at a cost approaching £30, which was the cue for me to head off for a bag of chips by Holes Bay.

Holes Bay

We liked unpretentious Poole a lot; great sunsets, walking, Chinese takeaways and beer. The Aldi is enormous too.

8 thoughts on “FROM POOLE TO PURBECK

  1. You should have kept walking on past Old Harry Rocks to The Bankes Arms at Studland. I haven’t been for a while, but despite being the sort of quaint boozer that casual drinkers/tourists like, they do have their own brewery and the last time we visited it was for an excellent beer fest in their gardens (still have it every year according to web site).


    1. Beer at the Bankes is shocking and the whole place is a shambles. Shame as it’s a lovely location. I’ve walked from Bournemouth station to Swanage a couple of times and so inevitably stop there anyway. Never been impressed on any visit.


  2. Marstons Poole Ales? (The Swan Inn). I know Marstons once had a brewery in Winchester, but I didn’t know anything about one in Poole. Not the same Burton-based company, perhaps?


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