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Brownsea Island

Combine sightseeing at the church and castle with a search for playful red squirrels as you meander through the dense woodland of this island.

Brownsea Island is a small woodland islet with a range of interesting terrain, wildlife and cultural landmarks. It is the largest of Poole Harbour’s eight islands and is home to the 19th-century St. Mary’s Church and the 16th-century Brownsea Castle. Learn about the early children’s camps that eventually led to the formation of Robert Baden-Powell’s Boy Scouts.

As you approach the island by boat, see the castle looming over the water. Peruse its pleasant gardens and capture photos of the fortress, which served as a defense fortification in the 1500s. Walk around the castle and pass through the mock Tudor entrance added in the 19th century.

Admire the Gothic style of the gray St. Mary’s Church. View a tomb and a monument to a previous owner and the original architect. Italian Renaissance sculptures decorate the church’s interior.

The island’s varied terrain includes a lagoon, salt marshes, freshwater lakes and woodland. Appreciate the picturesque setting at the Outdoor Centre. More than 100 years ago, Lieutenant-General Robert Baden-Powell, who is credited with setting up the Scout movement, camped here with early Boy Scouts. Enjoy today’s activities of orienteering and camping.

The island plays an important role in the survival of the rare red squirrel, which is dying out in the rest of the country due to the dominance of its gray counterpart. Discover several ornamental peacocks showing off their colorful tail feathers and visit the island’s heronry to see other majestic birds. Most of the islet is open from April to September, although the castle is closed to the public. The ferry ride has a small cost, with discounts for kids.

Book a ferry for one of its regular voyages to Brownsea Island from Poole Harbour. The journey is short, with arrival at the docks beside Brownsea Castle on the eastern coast. Get around the small island on foot easily. Its length is just 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers).


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Top Hotel Deals

See all 246 Hotels near Brownsea Island
£52
Haven Hotel

Haven Hotel

161 Banks Road, Poole
3.8
of 5, from 111 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Nestled on the beach, this Sandbanks hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Sandbanks Ferry Terminal and Brownsea Castle. Shell Bay Beach and Compton Acres are also within 3 mi (5 km).

£87
Hotel du Vin & Bistro Poole

Hotel du Vin & Bistro Poole

Thames Street, Poole
4.2
of 5, from 34 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Situated by the sea, this romantic hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Scaplen’s Court Museum and Poole Harbour. Brownsea Island is 1.9 mi (3.1 km) away.

Quay Holidays - Harbour Reach

Quay Holidays - Harbour Reach

41 High Street, Poole
5.0
of 5, from 1 reviews
3.5 out of 5.0

Situated in Poole, this apartment is within a 10-minute walk of Scaplen’s Court Museum and Poole Harbour. Poole Museum and RNLI Memorial Sculpture are also within 10 minutes.

£52
Holiday Inn Express Poole

Holiday Inn Express Poole

Walking Field Lane, Poole
3.8
of 5, from 140 reviews
3.0 out of 5.0

Located in the heart of Poole, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Poole Old Lifeboat Museum and Poole Harbour. Brownsea Island is 2.9 mi (4.7 km) away.

£54
Thistle Poole

Thistle Poole

The Quay, Poole
3.4
of 5, from 36 reviews
3.0 out of 5.0

Situated in Poole, this hotel is steps from Poole Old Lifeboat Museum and Poole Harbour. Poole Museum and Scaplen’s Court Museum are also within 10 minutes.

Quay Holidays - Poole Quay

Quay Holidays - Poole Quay

41 High Street, Poole
3.5 out of 5.0

Situated in Poole, this apartment is within a 10-minute walk of Scaplen’s Court Museum and Poole Harbour. Poole Museum and RNLI Memorial Sculpture are also within 10 minutes.

Breath Taking Views - Sea Breeze - A Holiday Home on the Shore of Poole Harbou

Breath Taking Views - Sea Breeze - A Holiday Home on the Shore of Poole Harbou

Sea Breeze, Poole
0.0 out of 5.0

Located in the heart of Poole, this vacation home is steps from Poole Old Lifeboat Museum and Poole Harbour. Poole Museum and Scaplen’s Court Museum are also within 10 minutes.

£83
The Merchant House - B&B

The Merchant House - B&B

10 Strand Street, Poole
4.3
of 5, from 26 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Situated in Poole, this bed & breakfast is within a 5-minute walk of Poole Museum and Poole Harbour. Brownsea Island is 2.1 mi (3.4 km) away.