Canford Park SANG, more commonly known as Canford SANG or just the ‘SANG’ (Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace) was opened in the summer of 2019 as a greenspace area to ‘relieve pressure from sensitive heathland’. The SANG quickly became one of the most popular spots for dogs walker, matched only by Upton House Country Park.
How to Find Canford Park SANG
The entrance to the SANG is from the traffic light junction on Magna Road (A341) in Poole. The entrance is signposted, but the signs are pretty small.
Update 06/23: Road works at the entrance make the driveway into the SANG a little confusing. There is a sign, but it is easy to miss.
Once along the entrance road, there are three car parks to choose from (the third one is for the SANG extension). Generally, the one on the right down the slope is best for Phase 1. To find the Phase 2 carpark, continue along the lane past car parks on the left and right, through an open metal gate and along the lane for another 1/4 mile.
What is Canford SANG Like?
The SANG has a circular gravelled pathway that is bordered by the banks of the River Stour. There is an abundance of wildlife including otters, swans, kingfishers, deer and badgers.
The SANG is being created in phases. Phase 1 included a 1.6 mile circular walk. In late Spring of 2023, phase 2 was opened to increase the circular walk to approximately 2.4 miles. Phase 3, when it is opened, will increase the SANG up to its full, very large, size.
Canford SANG is a near-perfect spot for training recall. The large, secure pen is ideal for taking the ‘at home’ learning to the next level and is, without question, the best pen I know. In fact, it is so good, it is better than many private training fields As with all public training pens, people will just let themselves in with their dogs (the signage could be clearer) and so diligence is needed.
There are several semi-contained areas within the park for the next level of recall, before moving on to the full 15 hectares of open space.
Caution is still needed during training, as always. The park can be extremely busy and the boundary isn’t completely secure. There is stock fencing on two sides, with several five-bar gates with space underneath for the escape artists. The other side is bound by the river. During the summer months, the river is shallow and so ideal for first-time swimmers, and for training water retrieves.
Canford SANG Phase 2
Phase 2 of the SANG offers a different experience, it is (currently) far less busy, and feels a little wilder with extensive areas of longer grass (and a LOT more wildlife, including pheasants and deer).
In addition to the free pen, there are three further ‘pay to play’ secure pens that include agility equipment
The SANG can be useful for helping nervous dogs as there are spots to get off the main path and watch other dogs/people go by. However, given the sheer numbers that can be there, it isn’t a first choice, especially with the narrow entrance paths into the park.
Facilities at the SANG
Parking is free at Canford SANG yet, despite the size of the car parks, it does fill up during the summer months. On a sunny August weekend, the whole park does get pretty hectic. There is a coffee ‘van’ at the park’s far end but no toilets. There is a Polygon Pets Self Service dog wash in the main car park and some recently installed children’s play equipment and some fitness machines. Whilst the pathways are hard-standing and mud-free, with the gates, the gradients, the rough surface, and the new height restrictor on the entrance road accessibility for wheelchair users is very poor!
Being right next to the River Stour does mean the park is susceptible to flooding. The main training pen is often locked up throughout the winter and the park can close without notice. The SANG’s Facebook page is sometimes updated when the park is shut or reopened.
In addition to the main park, there is the Canford SANG link, a somewhat uninspiring pathway that leads back to Magna Road. There has been significant tree planting in this space so, hopefully, it will develop into a shaded, woodland area.
In conclusion, Canford SANG is one of the better spots in Poole to walk your dog. It has lots of space, water, areas of longer grass, hard standing paths and plenty of poo bins. However, it is also a missed opportunity, with some vision and proper management it could be somewhere really special that is accessible to everyone.