Walk 14: Poole Town Centre: Cockles & Mussels alive a live oh!

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: About 1.5 miles (2.4 km)

Time to walk: It really depends how much you want to stop & explore. If you want to just walk quickly round it’ll take about 30 minutes, but there’s lots to see & explore. It would also make a great pub crawl as there’s some fabulous ones on the way

Difficulty: Completely flat & on hard paths & roads. Very easy!

Parking: It was a hot busy Saturday night in July when we did this walk so we parked in the Quay Multi Storey – it’s well signposted

Public toilets: Plenty in the pubs & cafes etc

Map of the route: @ Poole tourism

We were working down in the Poole area & have always loved that part of the country. Whilst looking for walks we came across the ‘Cockle Trail’ which is a historical walk around the centre of the town, also taking in the Quay area

Poole’s a large coastal town on the Dorset coast with the second largest natural harbour in the world after Sydney. It’s also a huge conservation area of great importance with many small islands including Brownsea Island, owned by the National Trust & which has a colony of red squirrels

It’s name comes from the Celtic word ‘bol’ & the Old English one ‘pool’ meaning near a pool or creek. Over the centuries it’s welcomed the Romans & the Normans amongst many & became an important trading port with America. We’ll look at this in more depth as we go

The Cockle Trail was opened in 1998 to celebrate the 750th anniversary of Poole’s first charter. It’s really to easy as the route is marked by cockle shell plaques on the pavement

It was a beautifully hot summers evening in July 2014 so we donned t-shirt, shorts & flip-flops & set off to see what we could find. So come with us…

Lets Walk!

1. Our walk actually starts on Poole Quay, but on the way there we pass a local institution…Poole Pottery. You may not know but it’s quite famous & visited by many people every year

It’s got some unique designs & you can try being Demi Moore in  frequent workshops & there’s kids ‘make your own’ sessions

2. To find the start of our walk just keep heading towards the Quay…

We hadn’t eaten before starting this walk, promising ourselves a treat at the end, but it was tempting…fish’n’chips, fresh seafood etc etc

Just on the right is the starting point of the ‘Cockle Trail’…the blue shelter which marks the site of Poole’s old fish markets, known as the Old Fish Shambles…

These days the site still attracts people who like fish (& chips)…

The trail's very well marked

The trail’s very well marked

3. To the right is our first pub…yes we’ll see several this evening & they all seem to have a story to tell. This one’s called The Lord Nelson & dates back to 1764 when it was originally known as the Blue Boar. It was renamed in 1810 in honour of Lord Nelson

4. Next door’s another well-known establishment called The Jolly Sailor

Apparently this pub’s famous for a former landlord who was known for diving off the quay to save people

5. Over the road a couple of things caught our eye…firstly the kiosk advertising some pretty good local trips…

It’s also a reminder this area’s part of the Jurassic Coast – a world heritage site. Swanage is also well worth a visit if you’re staying in these parts

Secondly, we spotted this chap…

Recognise him? Yes…it’s Robert Baden Powell founder of the Scout movement. He’s looking across to Brownsea Island, the site of the the first Scout camp in 1907

He hasn't got a bad view has he?

He hasn’t got a bad view has he?

 6. Right…back across the road & the next establishment of note is The Oriel Restaurant

This building was a Seaman’s Mission for many years & had a chapel on the first floor

Next door is another watering hole…The Quay. Told you this was a fab place for a bit of a pub crawl…

7. A bit further along is the oldest building on Poole’s Quay…The Poole Arms

Parts of this pub date back as far as the 17th Century. The website tells us that the green tiles on the front of the pub were made by the people who originally owned the Poole Pottery…Carters of Poole

The coat of arms on the front shows a dolphin & 3 scallops. The shells are the symbol of St James & underneath is a motto…’Ad morem villae de Poole’ which means ‘According to the custom of the town of Poole’

8. In quick succession there’s now another couple of pubs…firstly Grace House…

…& secondly the Portsmouth Hoy which was named after the ships that used to moor along here…

9. Walking further along the Quay we see several sights, but realise that Poole is still very much a working port

Probably the worst example as to why we're moaning about seagulls attacking us...

Probably the worst example as to why we’re moaning about seagulls attacking us…

The large metal sculpture above & below is called ‘Sea Music’ & was designed by Sir Anthony Caro

Climb to the top - it's worth it

Climb to the top – it’s worth it

10. This part of Poole also reminds us that the town is still very much a working port…

…but there’s also some pretty classy yachts around too…

11. Next along is a building called Newfoundland House, now a restaurant. This building refers back to the 18th century when Poole traded heavily with Newfoundland

On the wall next door is a plaque commemorating the D-Day landings & Poole’s role in ‘Operation Overlord’

Poole played a massive part in D-Day, being the 3rd largest place that US groups left for the French coast. Poole was also a major training area for the invasion

12. Just past this sign is The Custom House..

We’re now in one of the oldest parts of the Quay. The wooden structure outside the Custom House is the old weighing scales (how great is that!)

13. The lamp-post indicates it’s time to move away from the Quay inland down Thames Street

Opposite on the right are the Town Cellars which are now part of Poole Museum. The original part dates back to the 14th century, but the building we can see today is 15th. Apparently the site was the battleground of Spanish raiders in retaliation for attacks by Harry Payne, the ‘Poole Pirate’. Click on the link – it’s a great read!

14. On the left is the King Charles Pub, the main section of which was built in Tudor times & was named after King Charles X of France who landed in Poole in 1830 on his way to exile. It’s well worth a look inside

The pub’s reputed to be haunted & plays on it…

The black doors in the picture above tell a story. Every year a French onion seller uses it to store his wares…

15. Before carrying straight on we briefly turn right to have a look at the building that used to be Poole Gaol…

It was whilst standing here we decided to take one more photo of the pub when we heard “It’ll be better with us in it…” So here you go & lovely to meet you both

16. So let’s continue down Thames Street & we have to say this area of Poole gets more beautiful by the minute…

On the left is The Hotel du Vin which was built in the late 1770’s for Isaac & Benjamin Lester, one of Poole most influential families whose business traded with Newfoundland

17. We’re now entering the area known as St James Precinct which is also the heart of this beautiful town. The trade with Newfoundland brought immense wealth into the town, mainly to a few people, but they built some stunning Georgian mansions…

…plus on the right is St James Church, the original of which stood on this site over 800 years ago…

The route’s still well marked…

18. This really is a lovely area…on the left is 18th century Poole House, the home of Robert Slade, a Newfoundland merchant. He was also Mayor of Poole in 1835…

 …& then ahead is another masterpiece…West End House

This was lived in by another Slade, John another Newfoundland trader. It was later sold to the Carter family who were the founder of Poole Pottery which we saw at the start of this walk

19. We head round the church towards the bollards…

…& after passing through turn right into St James Close down the side of the churchyard

Down here on the left is an overspill graveyard – this is reputed to be one of the most haunted areas in Poole…

Better move quickly on!

Better move quickly on!

20. At the end of the close is the lovely Rectory which dates back to 1765…

…& our way out of the close is down the narrow alley…

…where we emerge into another fabulous area…Church Street

21. Turning left we walk up the street towards St George’s Almshouses, which unfortunately today were under scaffolding…


Nice flowers

Nice flowers

The building dates back to the early 15th century & was originally a Priest’s House built by the Guild of St George for the 4 priests saying mass at the Old Church of St James. It’s been used as almshouses since 1586

The niche in the wall once contained Poole’s first street lamp…

22. The area we’re now in was part of the medieval town &, although some of the buildings date back to this time, others reflect the elegant Georgian period & were occupied by the wealthy

Through the bollards & we’re now in Market Street which leads up to the elegant Guildhall. Some of the oldest houses here are on the left…

23. As the name indicates, this area was once the scene of the thriving local market. There’s several local hostelries & restaurants along here which would also have been busy on market days…

The Guildhall Tavern now houses a very nice French Restaurant…it has a great seafood menu

24. The view up Market Street is superb…

On the right is another old pub…The Crown

The Crown is reputedly haunted. During alterations in 1966 a piano was heard to start playing by itself & a mist floated down the stairs into the courtyard

25. Just before we arrive at The Guildhall on the left is The Angel…

…but let’s now have a look at the stunning Guildhall building

It was built in 1761 &, in those days, there were shops on the ground floor & the chamber & courtroom on the first floor. It, no doubt, has many tales to tell!

26. Facing The Guildhall, walk down the right side. Here in the wall is a bullet mark…

This was where in 1886 Alderman Horatio Hamilton, an ex Mayor, was shot several times by John King, a harbour pilot over a boat dispute. King was tried & sentenced to hang, but was reprieved due to public support

27. We turn right & walk along to the junction with the High Street…

Cut-throat shave Sir??

Cut-throat shave Sir??

…& turn right along it…

28. After about 100 yards the High Street opens out into The Cornmarket. On the right is another bar/restaurant, but the window high up on the right is interesting…

We didn't see Tom Cruise

We didn’t see Tom Cruise

29. We continue down the High Street. In past times it linked the Quay with the Town Gate & Cromwell’s men made the town a stronghold during the Civil War

We met our new friends again down here..

We met our new friends again down here..



The buildings along here are a rich ‘mish-mash’ with several being added on to over the years…

30. There’s several more ‘watering holes’ in this street. On the right’s The Antelope which states it’s Poole’s oldest hostelry

It was a coaching inn & a stop off for coaches travelling to London, Bristol & Bath

Next along the High Street we come to The King’s Head…a pub that contains 5 hidden tunnels thought to be used by smugglers

Sounds good!

Sounds good!

Good to see a real traditional pub

Good to see a real traditional pub

31. Next to The King’s Head is Scaplen’s Court Museum, Poole’s most complete medieval building…

Built in the 15th century & converted into an inn, it would have been used by merchants travelling from abroad to Poole

Other visitors were the pilgrims from Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain. Their symbol of a scallop found its way into Poole’s Coat of Arms…the Cockle Shell (the symbol of our trail today)

Today the building’s an education centre

32. The road now bends left & the Quay’s ahead of us again…the evening’s drawing in now

On the right’s Poole Museum which contains the history of Poole & is well worth a visit

Well…here we are back on the Quay & what a great little walk that was!

We’re feeling really hungry, but the light’s really good now so let’s head left down to the marina & grab a few snaps…

Poole Quay really is stunning at this time of day…

Right…we can’t wait any longer…it’s time for that treat!! So we head back along the Quay & straight into Harlee’s Fish’ n’ Chips. The local delicacy is Cod, but we were born north of the ‘Cod Line’ near Grimsby so Haddock’s our choice

Wonder what's in here then??

Wonder what’s in here then??



Have to say that our favourite Fish n Chips restaurant is The Magpie in Whitby, but these came a pretty close second

So…where was our table to eat this traditional delicacy…well we’re sharing it with a few others on the quayside & it’s great!!

Well that’s the end of our walk around historical Poole’s Cockle Trail & it’s fantastic

Poole & Dorset are one of our favourite parts of this country so, if you’re in the area, give this a go!

Go Walk!!



2 Responses to Walk 14: Poole Town Centre: Cockles & Mussels alive a live oh!

  1. Rita Harrison says:

    I used to live in Wellingborough and moved to Poole in 2013 loving every minute. It was so good to see a site about Northamptonshire Walks including this beautiful town I hope lots more people chose to come to see its beauty

    • Hi Rita. What a lovely comment. I know & love Poole very well. There’s a few more walks around your area under the Walks outside Northamptonshire tab including Hengistbury Head. Thanks again for taking the time to comment & I hope my website brings back some Northamptonshire memories for you too 🙂

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