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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).


Top Hotel Deals

See all 1,567 Properties near Brownsea Island
Haven Hotel £99
Haven Hotel

Haven Hotel

     
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Nestled on the beach, this Poole hotel is just steps away from Sandbanks Ferry Terminal and Sandbanks Beach. Brownsea Island is 1.6 mi (2.5 km) away.

    Thistle Poole £46
    Thistle Poole

    Thistle Poole

       
      3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Situated in Poole, this hotel is steps away from Poole Old Lifeboat Museum and Poole Harbour. Poole Quay and Poole Museum are also within 10 minutes. Poole Station is 12 minutes by foot.

      Sandbanks Hotel
      Sandbanks Hotel

      Sandbanks Hotel

         
        4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Nestled on the beach, this Poole hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Canford Cliffs Beach and Sandbanks Beach. Bournemouth Beach and Bournemouth International Centre are also within 3 miles (5 km).

        Hotel du Vin & Bistro Poole £79
        Hotel du Vin & Bistro Poole

        Hotel du Vin & Bistro Poole

        Thames Street, Poole, England
           
          4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Situated by the sea, this romantic hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Poole Museum and Poole Harbour. Poole Quay and Poole Twin Sails Bridge are also within 10 minutes. Poole Station is 13 minutes by foot.

          3 Mins to Sandbanks Beach, Flat Sanitised Every Change Over
          3 Mins to Sandbanks Beach, Flat Sanitised Every Change Over

          3 Mins to Sandbanks Beach, Flat Sanitised Every Change Over

          Brownsea Rd, Poole, ENG
             
            0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Situated by the ocean, this historic apartment building is within 1 mile (2 km) of Sandbanks Ferry Terminal and Sandbanks Beach. Brownsea Island is 1.7 mi (2.8 km) away.

            Modern Apartment on Sandbanks Peninsula, With Private Garden
            Modern Apartment on Sandbanks Peninsula, With Private Garden

            Modern Apartment on Sandbanks Peninsula, With Private Garden

            Poole, ENG
               
              0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              This family-friendly Poole apartment building is located by the ocean, within 1 mi (2 km) of Sandbanks Ferry Terminal and Sandbanks Beach. Brownsea Island is 1.7 mi (2.8 km) away.

              Sandbanks Apartment. Beachwalk
              Sandbanks Apartment. Beachwalk

              Sandbanks Apartment. Beachwalk

              20 Brownsea Road, Sandbanks, Poole, ENG
                 
                0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Situated by the ocean, this romantic apartment building is within 1 mile (2 km) of Sandbanks Ferry Terminal and Sandbanks Beach. Brownsea Island is 1.7 mi (2.8 km) away.

                1 Mansard Court - an Apartment That Sleeps 4 Guests in 2 Bedrooms
                1 Mansard Court - an Apartment That Sleeps 4 Guests in 2 Bedrooms

                1 Mansard Court - an Apartment That Sleeps 4 Guests in 2 Bedrooms

                3 Brownsea Road, Poole, ENG
                   
                  0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Situated by the ocean, this cottage is steps away from Sandbanks Ferry Terminal and Sandbanks Beach. Brownsea Island is 1.7 mi (2.8 km) away.