Sandbanks, which sits on a narrow spit of land enclosing the northern end of Poole Harbour, has the distinction of containing some of the country’s most expensive real estate. If you have a few million to spare, you can pick up a nice balconied number with views across Poole Harbour or over Sandbanks beach and out to sea. For example, a quick search in March 2011 threw up a “stylish and contemporary first floor apartment situated on the waters edge boasting superb uninterrupted views stretching across Poole Harbour, Brownsea Island and Evening Hill” for a cool £1,595,000. Needless to say, the inhabitants of Sandbanks are not your ordinary average Joe, numbering a famous English football manager among its illustrious residents.
Hop on one of the jaunty little yellow boats leaving from Sandbanks and you will find yourself in another world. Sandbanks is one of two departure points for ferries to Brownsea Island – Poole is the other. This small island near the mouth of Poole Harbour is one of the few places in England where red squirrels can be seen, being protected from the domination of their pesky grey cousins by virtue of their island habitat. There are also sika deer and a variety of birdlife such as avocets, redshanks and green woodpeckers. This little paradise is presided over by the National Trust, which offers guided walks on the island. The island has a long history stretching back to at least the 5th century BC, the time of the earliest evidence of settlement. Perhaps one of the best-known facts about the island is that it was the location of the first ever Scout camp, held by Lord Baden-Powell in 1907. This was the testing-ground for the Scout movement proper which began the following year.
Map of the area.