An explorer's guide to the islands of Britain

Brownsea Island, United Kingdom
Distance: 8.9 km
Difficulty: Easy
Method: Walking
Wow Factor: 9 out of 10

Key Facts

  • Location: Poole Harbour
  • Size: 200 hectares
  • Terrain: easy footpaths, trails.
  • Access: Ferry
  • Height gain: 133 metres
  • Map: OS Explorer OL15.
  • Starting point: Quay on Brownsea Island. Lat/Long 50.6889, -1.9564; GR SZ 032 877
  • Accommodation/food:

    There is a National Trust cafe on Brownsea Island and plenty of picnic stops.

    Brownsea Island accommodation includes camping and staying in the fabulously located National Trust holiday cottages right by the pier

  • Island Summary:

    A walk around Brownsea Island follows easy paths through the island’s pine-woods, heathland, sandy beaches, meadows, lakes and lagoons which are all are crammed with flowers and wild creatures. It isn’t surprising that this island was voted the best nature reserve in the UK. Throughout this walk there are stunning views north and east to Poole and Sandbanks, and the Purbeck Hills and chalk stacks of Old Harry’s Rocks to the south. With plenty of access to beaches for swimming and exploring the foreshore, there is too much to do in a single visit

  • Look out for:
    • Spotting red squirrels in the pines and spoonbills on the lagoon
    • Swimming off peaceful South Shore
    • Spending a night under canvas in honour of the first scouts
  • Route description:

    This walk around Brownsea Island starts at the quay and passes the statue of Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scouting movement, before entering the Dorset Wildlife Trust reserve with its hides offering a close-up peek at the bountiful bird life on the lagoons and the islands famed red squirrels. It continues through the pine woods to Pottery Pier, on the east coast, which is full of the ceramic fragments of the ill-fated porcelain works. Then, along the south coast the site of the original Scout camp still offers nights under the stars for Scouts, Guides and the public. From this stretch of coastline there are multiple access points to South Shore for a swim. The route returns to the visitor centre via a peacock-filled lawn in front of the church which is a great place for a picnic

  • Getting there:

    Getting to Brownsea Island – there are half-hourly boat service from 10am, departing Poole Quay (01202 631828/01929 462383) and Sandbanks (01929 462383).

    Closest island routes nearby:

    Hayling Island 

    Portsea Island

    Thorney Island


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Brownsea Island Camping

Spend a night under the stars on this special island

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