Brownsea IslandPoole
National Trust
Poole Harbour
Dorset BH13 7EE


Brownsea Island has a lovely location in the middle of Poole Harbour and is only accessible by ferries running from Poole Quay or Sandbanks Jetty. The island is a nature reserve and home to the very rare red squirrel.
The island is also known worldwide for its connection with Scouting and Guiding. In 1907 Lord Robert Baden-Powell held the first Scout Camp and a memorial stone marks the spot. This tradition of outdoor adventure activities for youth is maintained in the Baden-Powell Outdoor Centre (BPOC).
The Castle
The cluster of buildings and the pier date from the mid 19th century when Brownsea was a thriving community. The castle is now a private hotel and is not open to the public.
The pier buildings house the National Trust offices, Reception Centre, Café and NT Shop.
Brownsea is a peaceful island of woodland, wetland and heath with a rich diversity of wildlife. The tracks around the shore and across the island provide spectacular views of Poole Harbour and the Purbeck Hills. Free guided walks are available, leaving at 11:30 and 14:00 hours.
Wildlife - Red Squirrels
Wildlife ranges from Sika deer to tiny birds like the Goldcrest. Green Woodpeckers can be found feasting on ants in green spaces of open ground, and brilliant Kingfishers frequent the freshwater lakes.
Most visitors are keen to get a glimpse of the endangered red squirrel. They dwell in the branches of the fir trees and are difficult to see but are most visible at sunrise and sunset during spring and autumn. A dead giveaway of a squirrel up in a tree is a half eaten pine cone on the ground.
Unlike the more common grey squirrel often seen in parks and gardens, the red squirrel does not come down to ground. It likes densely canopied pine forests where it can leap from tree to tree. Red squirrel guided walks take place daily in the autumn.
To find out much more about what there is to see on the island go to  Web:  National Trust/ Brownsea Island    External Link
Accommodation - Search & Book through Agoda here:     External Link
Baden-Powell was not the only person to recognize the value of Brownsea.Island. Over two thousand years ago the Iron Age people lived on the island, crossing the water in log boats. The Poole Longboat on display in Poole Museum was dredged up from the silts of Brownsea.
Early settlement centred around pottery production, agriculture and trade but there was always the threat of invaders, particularly the Vikings until King Alfred the Great’s naval fleet drove the Danish ships away in 876 AD.
Cerne Abbey established a small chapel on the island ostensibly bringing Christianity to the medieval seamean and salt producers living there, but it seems that the flotsam and jetsam washed up from shipwrecks was of great value to the Abbey.
Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530s, control of Brownsea passed from Cerne Abbey to King Henry VIII. The King recognised the strategic importance of the island for guarding the entrance to the thriving port of Poole so a fort was built.
With the island passing into royal hands it became a commodity that could be given to influential courtiers for services rendered and so began a period of private ownership. One owner made it a haven for pirates provided he got a share of the booty.
The island passed into Parliamentary hands during the 17th century Civil War and back into royal hands during the Restoration. In 1726 the island was bought by an eccentric and controversial gentleman who rebuilt the castle as a residence. He planted many kinds of trees, and preserved specimens of hundreds of rare plants on the island.
So began the transformation of the island into a place of beauty. By 1770 the castle was surrounded by beautiful gardens, millions of fir trees had been planted and two freshwater lakes had been created.
During the 19th century industries, farming and flower production were conducted on the island but in 1927 the new owner stopped all commercial activities and the island gradually reverted to its natural woodland and heath, In 1940 it briefly served as a Refugee camp for Dutch and Belgians fleeing the German invasion. Upon the owner’s death in the 1960s the island came under the care of the National Trust.
Plan Your Visit
Accommodation - Search & Book through Tripadvisor here:    External Link
Opening Dates & Times
There is no visitor access via the ferry boat service from Poole Quay and Sandbanks during the winter months of November, December, January and February. Check the official National Trust website for exact opening times  Web:  Brownsea Island/ Opening Times    External Link
Admission Prices
Go to the National Trust website for up to date prices  Web:  Brownsea Island/ Prices    External Link
There is an additional charge for visiting the Dorset Wildlife Trust reserve  Tel:  +44 (0)1202 709 445 for information
Disabled Access
Toilets are available at Visitor Reception, Visitor Centre and BPOC
Café and shop have level access
Path to Visitor Centre is level and smooth.
Island paths and tracks can be rough and difficult to negotiate
For more detailed information, go to  Web:  Brownsea Island/ Facilities and Access     External Link
Tours for those less Mobile
For visitors who are less mobile, this beautiful island can be explored through the electric buggy tours. Helpful and knowledgeable guides will take you on a trip around the island. They will stop at various sites of interest so that you can enjoy the views, wildlife and history that is to be found on the island. For more information and to book: Tel:  +44 (0)1202 707 744
Ferry operator kiosks are on the quay, cash only for boat fares (cash machines are nearby in Poole High Street, 30 minute walk from the departure point at Sandbanks - Tesco metro)
Dogs are not permitted
Visitor Centre with information displays, introductory DVD, self-guided trail leaflets
Toilets located at Visitor Reception and Visitor Centre
Villano Café in the old coastguard station built in 1842
National Trust Shop
Picnic shelter at Horse Field and seats provided beside trails
Baden-Powell Outdoor Centre has toilets and a shop (The Trading Post) selling Scout and Guide souvenirs.
For more detailed information, go to  Web:  Brownsea Island/ Facilities and Access    External Link
Contact & Further Information
Telephone   +44 (0) 1202 707744 (General enquiries)
Mail   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website   Brownsea Island at National Trust    External Link
Getting There
The only access is by passenger ferry – Again refer to National Trust website for details. Bicycles are not allowed on the island. Wheelchair users should contact ferry operators before travelling. For detailed information go to  Web:  Brownsea Island/ How to get here    External Link
- From Poole Quay
Half-hourly ferry services (not NT) operate from 10:00 hours. For more information contact:
Greenslade Pleasure Boats
Telephone   +44 (0)1202 631 828
Website   Greenslade Pleasure Boats    External Link
- From Sandbanks Pier
Brownsea Island Ferries
Telephone   +44 (0)1929 462 383
Website   Brownsea Island Ferries    External Link
- By bus
Buses are available to all ferry points. For Contact and Timetables go to:
Website   More Bus Bournemouth & Poole    External Link
Website   Yellow Bus Bournemouth    External Link
- By Car
SatNav for Poole Quay is BH15 1HP.
From Dorchester take the A35/A350. From the east take the A31 Ringwood-Poole road. From Shaftesbury, take the A3081/A350 road.
Public car parking is close to the Quay.
SatNav for Sandbanks Jetty is BH13 7QJ.
Limited street parking and jetty car park is short stay. Nearest public car park is a 15 min walk from the jetty.
Google Map - Brownsea Island