Sandbanks is the beginning of the Bournemouth Coast Path. This guide offers both the original coast route devised in 1985 and the offical E9 which is a more direct route following mainly the promenade.
After Sandbanks, the old route rises on to high cliffs with an occasional descent into wide chines. The word ‘chine’ is the name, found here and on the Isle of Wight, for the ravines carrying streams down to the sea. From the cliffs there are good views back to the Isle of Purbeck and ahead to Hengistbury Head with the Isle of Wight beyond.
The bay, stretching from Sandbanks to Hengistbury Head, was first called Poole Bay in 1810, the very year Bournemouth began its development. Ten years earlier Poet Laureate Robert Southey had walked along the beach from Southbourne in the vain hope of finding Sandbanks Ferry operating. In 1856 the young Prince of Wales walked the same beach from Bournemouth and managed to take a boat to Brownsea Island.