Located deep within England’s most extensive natural harbour it offers good protection in almost all conditions. In developed situations, it can be somewhat exposed to the open harbour and the surrounding hills can send down gusts that channel their way up the tributaries. This can become particularly uncomfortable in wind over tide conditions. Access is straightforward in almost all reasonable conditions, night or day, and for the majority of boats at all stages of the tide.
Keyfacts for Goathorn Point
Summary* Restrictions applyA good location with straightforward access.
Position and approaches
Haven position50° 40.749' N, 001° 59.060' W
This is in South Deep about 500 metres northwest of Goathorn Point.
What are the key points of the approach?
- Check that there is sufficient water in the approaches.
- Branch off the main channel after the No.14 Port buoy located in the entrance off the southeast corner of Brownsea Island and follow the ample marks.
Not what you need?
- Brownsea Island - 0.5 miles N
- Port of Poole Marina - 1.1 miles N
- Shipstal Point - 1.1 miles WNW
- Poole Yacht Club - 1.1 miles NNW
- Salterns Marina - 1.2 miles NE
- Poole Quay Boat Haven - 1.2 miles N
- Poole Town Quay - 1.2 miles N
- Parkstone Yacht Club - 1.3 miles NNE
- Lake Yard Marina - 1.5 miles NW
- Cobb's Quay - 1.6 miles NNW
How to get in?
Image: © Tom Montgomery
Goathorn Point is a thickly wooded finger of land that is flanked by the marshy inlets of Poole Harbour’s southern shore and its smaller islands to the west. Bordered by woods and farmland, it lies in a natural and sequestered setting close to the harbour entrance. It provides anchoring locations, off the channel fairway, with 2 metres of water or more.
Approaches through Poole Bay and Harbour provide drafts of not less than 6 metres CD. After branching off the main channel there is a short distance with a least depth of 1.2 CD before the deeper waters of South Deep can be obtained. It is advisable to check the state of tide to confirm that there is sufficient draft in the approaches. Vessels carrying a draft of up to 1.7 metres should expect to be able to enter and leave at low water.
Entry into Poole Harbour is covered in the Poole Town Quay entry.
After the No.14 buoy, Fl.R.5s, round the lit north cardinal buoy, Q, situated to the north of Stone Island. Then steer to pass the No.1 Green pile beacon, FI.R.5s, to port. This opens up access to Blood Alley Lake and South Deep.
The first marks of South Deep, marked by port and starboard light-beacons, will be seen 400 metres southward of the No.1 Green Pile beacon. This area, between No.1 and South Deep, has the shallowest water with a least depth of 1.2 CD.
Once in South Deep, the channel then deepens as it meanders its way along the mainland passing between Goathorn Point and Furzey Island, then Cleavel Point and Green Island and onward to fork into the Wych Channel. In addition to lit beacons there are leading lights, on an alignment of 305°, on the southeast side of Furzey Island that lead into the commercial slip on the island.
Anchor according to draft and conditions anywhere from the entrance to South Deep up to Cleavel Point and beyond. Stay clear of the fairway, moorings and clearly marked oyster beds. Harbour cruise boats and the oil worker’s ferries, supporting the oil rig on Furzey Island, frequently use this channel so it is important not to anchor in a fashion that might obstruct the fairway. Anchoring is prohibited in the vicinity of an underwater cable, well charted and marked by shore beacons, laid between Furzey and Green Islands and the mainland. All is soft mud in the creek so if you do touch little harm will come of it. The harbour’s deep cloying black mud offers excellent holding.
Goathorn is somewhat sheltered by the harbour islands but it can be uncomfortable when a contrary wind and tide sets the boat dancing. This can be avoided by getting in out of the channel and away from the full run of the tide. Its most exposed wind direction is northeast round to east where, at high tide, a fetch of a 1.5 miles can be created. The best anchorages are to be found in the reach between Cleavel and Goathorn points, particularly so at its southern end.
Landing is not permitted at Goathorn point but it is possible to land at high water on the beautiful rustic shore that overlooks Newtown Bay south of Cleavel Point. Newton Bay’s central marsh divides its channels east and west. The western channel runs close along the southern shore making it possible to land by dinghy. This can only be made use of at high water as at low water all is mud.
Why visit here?The origins of the name ‘Goathorne Point’ are uncertain, and it is most likely that it describes the ‘peninsula where goats are kept’. Newtown Bay, the marshy inlets between Goathorn and Cleavel points, acquired its name from the ambitions of King Edward I who, in 1286, ordered a new town called Nova Villa ‘Newton’ to be built here.
Edward’s intention was to create a new port for the export of stone. He granted his planned Nova Villa a charter in 1287 that enabled it to have two weekly markets and an annual fair. But neighbouring Ower Quay was already well-established by this time and it quickly became obvious that such an ambitious development was not viable. Some development however took place as the historic maps of Poole Harbour, including one as late as the 1597, mark a Newton settlement.
The 1st Edition of the Ordnance Survey map of 1811 shows only buildings around the present Newton Cottage and does not name the area Newton. This would indicate that the settlement had by this point declined to such an extent that it was no longer noteworthy. No traces of any historic buildings associated with the planned town have ever been discovered. The current Newton Farmhouse, or Newton Cottage, dates to the late 17th or early 18th century, since which it has been extensively modernised. The most distinctive manmade feature of the area today is Goathorn Pier, with its jetty, that was used by barges to ship Purbeck Ball Clay to Poole Harbour.
The clays of Purbeck have been used for thousands of years and it is said that it can be found in a third of all fine pottery ever produced in England. It is valued for its whiteness and its special properties, when fired, which made it ideal for tableware, bathroom ceramics and in situations where it is required to cope with high temperatures. Purbeck clay was first mined in the 17th Century when it was used for the manufacture of clay pipes used for tobacco smoking. It was soon shipped to London where it began to be used in the manufacture of tableware. When, in the 18th Century Josiah Wedgwood adopted the high quality clay, he gave birth to an extensive industry in this quiet rural backwater.
The clay had been taken by pack horse to wharves on the River Frome but this was far too slow for the large scale commercial extraction required by the Staffordshire potteries. The bottleneck was first removed by the introduction the ‘Middlebere Tramway’ in 1806. It ran from the principal workings pits at Norden, near Corfe Castle, to a wharf on Middlebere Creek in the southwest corner of Poole Harbour from where it was transhipped to Poole Town Quay. The horse drawn plateway was one of the first railways to be established in southern England and the first in Dorset. This was then followed by the ‘Furzebrook Railway’ in 1840 leading from the clay pits near Furzebrook and West Creech to a at Ridge Wharf.
In 1854 a pier was then built at Goathorn Point with a rail line that lead to the clay pits at Newton. The ‘Newton Tramway’ waggons were initially horse drawn. In 1870 a small steam locomotive called Corfe was introduced that was locally nicknamed as Tiny because of its diminutive size. In 1907 the ‘Newton Tramway’ was then extended to Norden by the ‘Norden & Goathorn Railway’ where it became known as the ‘Fayles Tramway’. The ‘Middlebere Tramway’ was then linked to this and, after 101 years of continual use, the original ‘Middlebere Tramway’ to the Middlebere Wharf was discontinued.
In its day the Goathorn line hauled tons of clay for transhipment to Poole but it also had a passenger service, a school service, and carried workmen. But after almost a century of service the line was little used and finally abandoned in 1937. The line that crossed Newton Heath was taken up in 1940 leaving no working line north of Norden. The pier at Goathorn was closed in the Second War when the peninsula was used as part of a bombing range and military practice area. After the Second World War transport shifted increasingly to more flexible lorries which led to the decline of tramways and the mainline railway across the whole range of clay workings. The remaining ground lines were finally abandoned in 1970. While the old quays endure only the routes of the railways survive to this day.
Today Goathorn Point provides boatmen with a peaceful anchorage in quiet waters. Shut in by the dense coniferous plantations along the Goathorn Peninsula, and the thickly forested Brownsea, Green and Furzey Islands, along with the southern shores low-lying meadows, rising up to heathland and coniferous plantations, it is today an extraordinarily beautiful location. It is a place to escape the northern shore’s bustling ferry port and the conurbation of Poole. A place to gently swing at anchor surrounded by wildlife, looking out over the southern shore’s numerous points, bays, channels and marshy inlets that give the harbour its lake-like appearance.
What facilities are available?There are no facilities at this remote and sequestered anchorage.
With thanks to:John Binder CMM Poole Quay Boat Haven & Port of Poole Marina manager. Photography with thanks to Graham Rabbitts, Tom Montgomery and Michael Harpur.
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