Branksome Chine Beach is often simply called Branksome Beach. It lies the other side of the road (the B3065) from Branksome Chine Gardens.
It has an on-beach car park, a beach shop and a cafe. The area is maintained and monitored from here too from a Beach office that is manned during the summer season. Also in the summer season there is a life guard station on the beach.
In fact Branksome Chine has it’s own Lifesaving Club which has premises on the beach main area by the beach office.
Branksome Chine: A Blue Flag Beach
It is also the owner of one of Pooles four illustrious Blue Flags. This award, which is handed out sparingly indicates the beach is well kept, clean and safe.
Because of the ease of access and the reputation of the beach has as great place to be it is very popular.
When approaching from an easterly direction from the quieter Branksome Dene beach you will find the Branksome Dene promenade changes to the Branksome Chine promenade. As you come closer car park there are a rather different set of “double-decker” beach-huts.
The massive fine sanded beach continues west here you will find volley ball courts to hire and a boat/wind surfer hire concession. More reasons why the beach is so popular.
As you progress west take a look back at the start of Poole cliffs that will is short order turn into Canford cliffs a little further along. Like all of this coast line these cliffs are (geologically speaking) quite young and date back around 45 million years. So no dinosaurs ever walked on them, the dinosaurs died out nearly 20 million years earlier.
The cliffs are compressed sand. It’s a little too much to call it a rock. It is far too soft and liable to crumble. Consequently the cliffs are subject to rapid erosion when the conditions are right. Just like the Chines are.
However thee crumbling cliffs are home to many exotic species of plant and animal. Because the soil structure is based on sand it tends to be naturally acidic. As a result many acid loving plants and trees including coarse, heather and Scots Pine thrive here. This is in fact one of the few remaining coastal heathland areas in the country.
Many non native species are also present. The one which surprises many people is the Common Wall Lizard that has taken up residence in the last 40 years or so. They are quite un-phased by people and will often be seen scurrying between rocks and wall crevices as you walk along. In fact this reptile is a common feature all along Bournemouth Bay. Kestrels are also a regular site as they prey on the wall Lizards.
A Site of Special Scientific Interest
Because of their rarity and their uniqueness parts of these cliffs have been designated as Sites of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI). In a couple of locations they also have the designation as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Finally there is a small section of Beach Dunes. No beach dunes exist east of these until you get to the foot of Hengistbury Head. Going westward the nearest are at Shell Bay in Studland. While beach dunes add considerably to a beaches stability they are fragile structures so please be careful with them.
Branksome Chine Parking
Branksome Chine Beach Car park (BH13 6LP)
The main car park for Branksome Chine beach sits literally at the end of the Chine right next to the beach. It is surrounded by the shops, the cafe and the beach office it has 104 spaces (3 disabled). Due to the popularity of this beach and it’s visibility (you can literally see the car park and beach from the road) it fills quickly in summer.
Beach Road Car park (BH13 7BE)
This is a far larger car park with 368 spaces. It is though further away from the beach and involves an 8 minute walk of about half a mile. There is a gentle gradient to the beach so the outward journey is easier than returning. For obvious reasons.
Branksome Chine Smuggling
During the late 18th and early 19th century the whole of this area (and Branksome Chine in particular) was awash with criminality. The chines offered an easy and safe beach access to smugglers. Branksome Chine was the most popular.
Goods were brought ashore and then carried over the heathland and distributed around various safe houses. At the turn of the 19th century a small war was fought between the smugglers and the the Crown customs officers. This climaxed in 1798 when smugglers near what is now Mudeford Quay to the East, were shelled by the 18 gun Customs sloop HMS Orsestes.
But these were no romantic naughty boy villains. Maybe the average smuggler was merely a dirt poor fisherman/farmer with no options doing his best to feed his family. But their leaders were something else entirely. Many would (as criminality goes) put the likes of the Kray Twins or the Peaky Blinders to shame.
Thomas Gulliver: Master Smuggler
One of their most notorious leaders at this time was one Thomas Gulliver At one time Gulliver commanded a group that was reputedly 50 strong. They wore a uniform of sorts and had the nickname the “white wigs” due to the head gear they wore. Gulliver was a criminal genius at planning and was clever enough t diversify his ill-gotten gains into other less disreputable ventures. He became very, very rich.
Fittingly today Branksome Chine is one of the most expensive areas within Poole (and in fact within the country).
Hopefully today the vast majority of today’s residents are a little more law abiding than Thomas Gulliver.