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Brownsea Island

Brownsea Island is the largest of the islands in Poole harbour. It has been owned by The National Trust since 1962 and is open to visitors from March until October. 

Brownsea Island

Brownsea Island by Ian Woolcock / shutterstock.com

A visit to Brownsea Island begins for most visitors with an exciting ferryboat trip across Poole Harbour from Poole, Sandbanks, Bournemouth or Swanage. The island is dramatically located at the entrance to the harbour and has spectacular cliff top views of the surrounding area including Studland and the Purbeck Hills. The island's fascinating and colourful history includes use as a coastguard station, Victorian pottery, Edwardian country estate, daffodil farm, decoy in World War 2 and in 1907 was the site of Baden-Powell's first scout camp. 

The island is managed primarily for nature conservation and for visitors. The pine woodlands on Brownsea have important populations of red squirrel, which are increasingly rare in Britain.  In fact in southern England they can only be seen on the Isle of Wight and on islands in Poole Harbour.  It's also important for nesting seabirds especially terns and overwintering birds like avocets, which use the lagoon at the eastern end of the island. There is also an area of heathland - a once common but now increasingly rare habitat in southern Britain. 

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