After a couple of evenings bobbling to the wake of passing powerboats in Studland Bay, the tranquillity of Whiteground Lake, Poole Harbour, is a welcome relief, as Graham Snook explains
If your draught will allow, Whiteground Lake is well worth it for your own slice of serenity. Tucked behind Brownsea Island in the vast, shallow expanse of Poole Harbour, there is little to disturb you except the scenery and wildlife.
Whiteground Lake is at the western end of Blood Alley. To get there, enter Poole Harbour (giving way to the chain ferry), then leave the two large port lateral marks to port while heading roughly north-west. Continue past the north cardinal towards Brownsea Castle, and the east cardinal off it, until the green pole is in transit with a north cardinal at approximately 240ºT. Then pass close to the green pole (it matters not which side) and head towards the north cardinal that marks the entrance to Blood Alley. Heeding the cardinal’s advice, stay to the north and look west; there should be a nice string of unlit red poles winding their way towards the gulley between Furzey and Brownsea Islands. If you’re going to touch the bottom, the time will be around now.
We entered with around 1.5m of tide above Chart Datum (our draught is 1.7m) and we still had 0.3m to spare. Keep around a boat’s width from the red poles – stray too wide at the first one (BA2) and things get shallow. At the red mark BA6, heading straight towards BA8 could again see the bottom start to rise, but a gentle curve towards Brownsea Island and back again will see you through.
Once the channel turns towards Furzey, you should be able to pick out the long jetty – now derelict – coming out towards you. Have a good sound around north of the jetty for the deepest water, being careful not to anchor in the channel or the ‘anchorage sensitive zone’ to the south and west of Shard Point on Brownsea. With a neap tide range of 1m, we anchored in 2.1m at LW+2. The holding is good, in fine silt. Don’t forget to allow for the change in direction of tide, which might happen a few times in a tidal cycle. If in doubt, it might be time to use the kedge.
Once secure, you’ll notice that few boats pass this way – unless the tide is high and navigation to and from the Wych Channel is possible. South of Brownsea Island is a quiet zone with an advisory speed limit of 6 knots and a ban on jet-skis. This peace and quiet comes at the cost of £0.52/m/day in the form of harbour dues, which can be paid online from Poole Harbour commissioners: www.phc.co.uk. Without the interruption of internal combustion engines you may hear the strange cries of exotic birds. Don’t worry, you’re not hearing things. Brownsea is home to an ostentation of peacocks as well as the less vocal and flamboyant red squirrel.
Landing on the south shore of Brownsea is allowed; the National Trust asks that you do the decent thing and visit the reception to pay for your visit, or show your card. The island offers many walks to soak up an afternoon, as well as a suitably placed walled garden café to watch boats enter and leave Poole Harbour.
While anchoring you may spot tents near the shoreline. Now a campsite, this was where Robert Baden-Powell took 20 boys on an experimental camping trip in 1907. Here the boys learnt bush craft and teamwork skills. The camp was the start of the Scout and Guide movement, and is now visited by Scouts from around the world. Be prepared for the possibility of bumping into packs of Cubs, Scouts, Brownies or Guides, but don’t let it put you off walking around this delightful island. Mecca it might not be, but I did find myself rummaging the depths of my memory, trying to recite the Cub Scout Law.
Poole Harbour commissioners: www.phc.co.uk