Brownsea Island
Brownsea Island
4.5
Islands • Nature & Wildlife Areas
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10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tuesday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
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About
Owned by the National Trust, Brownsea Island is dramatically located in Poole Harbour, with spectacular views across to the Purbeck Hills. Thriving natural habitats - including woodland, heathland and a lagoon - create a unique haven for wildlife, such as the rare red squirrel and a wide variety of birds, including dunlin, kingfishers, common and sandwich terns and oystercatchers. The Outdoor Centre invites you to come and follow in the footsteps of Lord Baden-Powell and the very first Scouts who camped here in 1907. Spend a night under the stars at the historic campsite and live life like a true Scout whilst you take advantage of the peace and tranquillity of the island when all other visitors have gone home. The perfect day's adventure - this island wildlife sanctuary is easy to get to but feels like another world from the moment you step ashore.
Suggested duration
2-3 hours
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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4.5
2,513 reviews
Excellent
1,810
Very good
539
Average
113
Poor
26
Terrible
25

booandkitty
Bridgend, UK57 contributions
Apr 2022
Great family day out, we only spent a few hours here, but you could spend all day.
You need to pre-book the ferry to avoid disappointment, ideally going before 12 noon to the island as it does get busy. The ferry has a bar on board for refreshments and snacks.
The island itself is being 'repaired' after being left to go over wild leading to some areas looking like a large dinosaur has gone crashing through the trees, uprooting them, stripping them bare and snapping some in half ( my little boy thought it was a Gruffalo, but I'm sticking with a dinosaur)
We didn't get to see all the Island, nor any red squirrels, but it is very peaceful and quiet with lots to explore.
The church is really interesting as is the pump room with a second hand book section, and a history of the Island.
The cafe is good with a selection of hot/cold food, cakes, snacks and drinks
Written May 6, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Rachel E
Thame, England, United Kingdom18 contributions
Jul 2022
What a lovely place to visit. Lots to see, great information/history, views. Stunning surroundings. As the island is inhabited with boys scouts it is not quiet or peaceful. If you go expecting to see red squirrels you will probably be disappointed; They only come out when everyone has left - not surprising.
Do take plenty to eat and drink as the only place to buy provisions is at the NT cafe; extremely pricey and there is no alternative. £3.20 for a 250ml apple juice. Shame.
Written July 29, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Llanelly
Saffron Walden, UK161 contributions
Jun 2021
We had planned to visit Brownsea Island, just not on this particular day! Visiting Poole for the day we wandered down to the key and on asking one of the National Trust staff on the quayside, how far in advance you need to book, she advised that we could go on the next boat if we wished to! A quick visit to the nearest cashpoint for the cash to pay the boat fare and we were off!

Given the current situation, numbers on each boat trip, indeed overall on the island are limited, but to be perfectly honest that is a great innovation and certainly enhances the trip. Seating on board the boat was socially distanced, and once on the island it was rare to see another human unless you actively sought them out!

The only disappointment is that the National Trust have closed the shop on the island and replaced it with a very limited range of goods in the cafe, which limits those Brownsea Island specific mementoes.

Throughout our visit, including the boat trip there and back, we felt perfectly safe. The fresh air, beautiful weather and friendly, helpful volunteers were the perfect antidote to the current situation.
Written June 21, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

111TWIGAMINHAAFRIKA
Bristol, UK7,148 contributions
Apr 2021
Another excellent early morning organised ‘birdsong’ event at Brownsea Island.
Our ranger/guide John, collected the group from Sandbanks quay and then on the NT boat, we headed for the island(5 minutes).
We navigated the island on foot with John giving us the general insight to how Brownsea works, and excellent guiding with his inexhaustible knowledge on the birdsong.
This event was prepaid, a 0730am start, and included coffee/tea and a bacon, sausage and egg bap.
We decided to stay on the island after the event which concluded at 1015am and spent a further hour and a half exploring ourselves, finding quality time photographing several red squirrels at close quarter.
Excellent morning at Brownsea.
Written October 16, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Emma N
Newcastle-under-Lyme, UK60 contributions
Jun 2022 • Family
Absolutely nothing bad to say about our visit to Brownsea island.

The volunteers are an absolute credit to the place, it is clean and well kept and everyone there seems to be really happy to help and the two volunteers by the scout hut that day knew all there was to know about the scouts; well done ladies!

We had a pram which was exchanged (for free) with ease with a pram provided on the island to help with the “off road experience” - my toddler was very comfortable (it is an out n about nipper with a fixed front wheel) and it’s a very useful thing for families like ours. There is a play ground on the island also which we didn’t use but looked really good fun.

We saw red squirrels, peacocks, chickens, ducks and ducklings, a rooster and even deer on the island!

Definitely worth a visit, if you plan to stay a while I would recommend a picnic, there’s only one cafe at the beginning of the island and then a small cabin serving tea/coffee/ice cream and small snacks near the scout hut.

If I’m in Poole again I will visit without question.
Written July 3, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

_jenniferdaisy66
London, UK38 contributions
Aug 2021
you need if possible a whole day, we saw many red squirrels, lots of peacocks , Pea hens and their babies, watch where you sit i don't mind sharing that my bag got covered in peacock poo from a bench, even got to see family of ducks and ducklings, unfortunately they were being chased by some unruly children,. No deer, unfortunately, but it is believed that the Deer may have swam off the island. there is a lot of walking involved so suitable foot wear is a must. the cafe is worth a visit for a tea or coffee but food wise I would bring yourself a picnic as the food is pricey £1.00 for a standard Mars bar or 4 finger kitkat Im no skinflint but if you have a couple of kids it will add up. it was my second visit and even though the sky was overcast it was still pleasant.
Written August 21, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

baldrick69
Bristol, UK15 contributions
Oct 2020
Lovely walk around Brownsea during October with my 10 year old. Brownsea is famous for the red squirrels so there is an obvious challenge for the kids to try and spot one.

The hides and narrow walkways are all closed for covid reasons and that detracts a little but the main paths through the woods are all open if a little muddy (wellies or walking boots suggested in October).

The parking is easy to miss when you drive down to the quay. When you find it, you'll find that the parking is quite expensive for the 3.5 - 4 hours you need. The machines weren't excepting plastic either so load up paybyphone on your mobile first or you'll spend a happy 15 minutes in the car park like I did.

The little ferry is to get there is very pleasant although they do insist on face masks even though you're distanced and outside.
Written October 24, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Tilly871
57 contributions
Apr 2022
Make sure to book in advance during busy times. We almost made the mistake to go on a day trip to Poole without booking. Luckily we checked the website just before leaving home and it was fully booked so we went a day later and booked online. 20 min boat ride. We spent 4 hours exploring the island. Nice walks around the island. Lovely cafe with cakes, sandwiches, sausage rolls etc Saw one red squirrel and loved the peacocks. Took one star off as Dorset Wildlife rents a section of the island from the National Trust. The Dorset Wildlife lady was very bushy and basically unless you make a £2 donation you cant explore that section. She jumps right out in front of you and asks for £2. The tickets are very expensive already and that really put me off. I cant stand the tactics these charities use.
Written April 11, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

quynhn
19 contributions
Sep 2020
We booked tickets with the National Trust to visit the island via the ferry from Poole Harbour. First the good news. The ferry was expertly handled and took us to and from the island. The island was lovely and peaceful and the red squirrels were amazing. The NT cafe staff were great and refreshments much appreciated. Such a day can only be recommended.
Unfortunately there was dark cloud on the otherwise excellent experience that we enjoyed. The NT website informed us that full corona measures were being taken. They were not and it was a disgrace.
There was no social spacing between passengers on the lengthy queues to board the ferry
There were no masks worn at all on a previous ferry, while queuing to board, and whilst onboard.
The ferry was not cleaned between trips. As soon as the last passenger disembarked, the first on the new lots of passenger boarded. There was no time for any cleaning, which would have been impossible as there were was the helmsman and one crew member.
I raised the matter with NT who promptly fobbed me off with advice to contact the local NT. This I duly did, and they patronisingly told me that I could not see what went on behind the scenes. So I am left with the impression that HQ and local NT are not particularly concerned about Corona precautions and the safety of members and guests.
Written October 17, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Hi there. We're sorry to hear about your experience travelling to the island. We would highly recommend you contact us as soon as possible at brownseaisland@nationaltrust.org.uk with the details of your visit so we can look into the points your raise. We have strict social distancing and hygiene measures in place and we need to adhere to these in order to stay open and create a safe visit for everyone. Thank you.
Written October 20, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

laurella w
Alresford, UK1,366 contributions
Jul 2022 • Couples
We absolutely loved our day on Brownsea. The ferry takes 20 minutes for Poole Quay, the yellow kiosk. It’s so beautiful and we saw the red squirrels and peacocks. There is a nice cafe and toilets. Great for all ages. Recommend. If you are a national trust member you just need to pay the £12.50 ferry return trip, if not it’s £21.50 per adult for non members.
Written July 25, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Brownsea Island (Poole) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

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