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The history of Poole is a long one. The first tourists to visit were nomadic stone-age travellers. They navigated the rivers that flowed through what is now Poole Harbour and Poole Bay and settled on the banks. That was at a time when the land bridge to Europe was still intact and the sea was some distance from Poole, the other side of the chalk hills that used to join the Purbecks with the Isle of Wight, the Old Harry rocks to the Needles.

Since then, Poole has been a popular destination for Romans, Saxons, Danes, Normans, and now, more peaceful invaders from all over the UK and abroad.

Poole is unique in that it has the world's second largest natural harbour, only Sydney is larger! With a shore-line of about 110 miles, the harbour is enclosed by Studland nature reserve, the picturesque Isle of Purbeck to the south, Wareham to the west, Poole town on its northern shore around and almost completing the circle, the Sandbanks penninsular where the narrow harbour entrance is 400 yards to Studland.

This makes Poole a Mecca for water sports; from sailing to windsurfing and dinghy racing to power boating and water-skiing, canoeing and pleasure boat trips, Poole is unsurpassed! What better than to spend a day out on the water and the evening in one of Poole Quay's famous pubs?

A stroll up the High Street and you reach one of the south's most under-rated shopping malls, the Dolphin centre. Just opposite is the Lighthouse, renown for its shows and concerts.

Continue a little further east and you reach Poole Park, a children's favourite with its play areas and minature railway; just make sure they don't fall in the boating lake (they won't be the first!).

A mile further east brings you through Lilliput, past Canford Cliffs (Compton Acres is a must visit) to Sandbanks, home of the rich and famous. Stand on the golden strand of Sandbanks, look south and you'll see Studland's miles of pristine beach, famous for its naturists (binoculars recommended) round to the imposing chalk cliffs of Ballard Down and the Old Harry Rocks.

And if that's not enough, the charming towns of Wimborne, Wareham and Dorchester are within easy reach, with a fast ferry link to the Channel Islands and France.

Andy Mills is passionate about Bournemouth and Poole. He has lived in the area for many years and has explored many of its hidden treasures. Andy is short and balding, but very cuddly.