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Visit Brownsea Island

Brownsea Island from the air The National Trust's Brownsea Island is situated within Poole Harbour, just a 20 minute boat trip from Poole Quay. Brownsea is a beautiful 500 acre island of heath and woodland, and there is something for everyone to enjoy. Famed for the rare red squirrel, the island is also known as the birthplace of the Scouting movement which celebrated its Centenary in 2007.

The island has a rich and colourful history, and has had a variety of uses throughout the years. In Victorian times, pottery was produced there and some pieces can still be found on the shoreline today. During the Second World War, the island was used as a decoy to protect the Harbour, and was subsequently taken over by the National Trust in 1962.

Brownsea has much to offer visitors, with tranquil woodland walks, children's adventure trails, stunning views across the harbour and a Scout and Guide activity centre. The island is one of the last strongholds of the Red Squirrel in southern Britain and is also home to internationally important population terns, wildfowl and wading birds including avocets.

On arrival at the Visitor Centre you can collect a wide range of information to help you make the most of your visit. Food and drink can be purchased at the Villano Cafe with its lawned terrace area in an unspoilt setting. There are also many secluded spots for the perfect picnic.

Many special events take place throughout the year, including the popular open air theatre, activity weekends and guided walks, see www.nationaltrust.org.uk/brownsea for full details.

Walking on Brownsea Island 2 If you would like a DVD on Discovering Poole Harbour, please contact Ray Joyce on 01202 692008

The History of Brownsea

Brownsea Island also holds a marvellous history. Once an isolated island, there is evidence of settlement in the area by the beginning of the fifth century BC, with pottery production, agriculture and trade all well established. In 1964, while clearing a channel just off the island, a dredger recovered two sections of a 33 foot log boat. This boat is now preserved by Poole Museums.

As well as home to the first Scout Movement thanks to Lord Baden-Powell, Brownsea has seen a host of owners from royalty such as King Henry VIII to Mrs Marie Bonham-Christie who lived an extremely reclusive life on the island. Mrs Bonham-Christie was the owner of the island when it was mainly destroyed by fire in 1934. The fire raged for three days but the main buildings on the eastern end of the island were saved by the wind suddenly changing direction.

The island is now owned by The National Trust and The John Lewis Partnership.