Autumn is in the air and it’s the perfect time to spot red squirrels scampering through the colorful leaves of Brownsea Island.
Spiritual home of the global Scouting movement, this unspoiled south-west haven England This is where Robert Baden-Powell first took groups of boys to learn the techniques of bushcraft over 100 years ago.
The tiny harbor island of Poole in Dorset now welcomes over 130,000 day visitors and campers a year.
Why should I visit Brownsea Island?
If you love being at one with nature, Brownsea is the place for you. A lagoon, lakes, reedbeds and beaches offer refuge to a large number of birdswhile the forest is home to red squirrels and sika deer.
Even getting to the island offers a taste of the calm to come, with a boat travel from Poole Quay or Sandbanks.
While this is the perfect place to get away, you won’t have to rely on your scouting skills for your next meal. There is a visitor center with a cafe and information about the island’s rich history and wildlife.
And if the thought of pitching a tent makes you groan, you’ll be glad to hear the family camp site now offers pre-pitched bell tents so you can spend the night stress-free.
Brownsea Island is full of fall activities
Ready to book your bell tent? You’ll have to be quick – Brownsea Island closes to campers at the end of September each year. It remains open for day trips until the end of October – allowing a bit more time to enjoy all the autumnal images, sounds and smells offered.
One of the last strongholds in southern England for native red squirrels, the island is a great place to wildlife watching. Catch the elusive creatures that collect nuts for the winter on a one-hour guided walk, which runs daily from mid-September to mid-October.
Prefer something more thrilling? There ‘Scary squirrel story family trail’ highlights that the red squirrel wasn’t always the national treasure it is today, with creatures hunted for their fur and tails. It runs until the end of October.
There is also a mushrooms foray into teens and adults, led by Dorset Fungus Group. After learning to differentiate your fly agaric from the deadly destroying angel, enjoy some (non-lethal) mushrooms on toast before heading home.
An early morning stroll and breakfast on October 15 will be an opportunity to enjoy the island and its wildlife before the crowds arrive.
What are we doing to protect wildlife on Brownsea Island?
The Brownsea Island Countryside Stewardship Project is a five-year conservation programme, funded by Natural England, which began in September 2021.
It is the largest conservation project in the islandby restoring the rare and threatened habitat of the moors.
The ultimate goal is to create a purple vision by cutting heather from existing patches and scattering it over the bare ground to allow new plants to grow. growing up.
Tim Hartley, National Trust Chief Ranger, says: “Brownsea has a rich and fascinating past and our moorlands are an important part of that story. But over the centuries, habitat diminished and fragmented.
“We want to enlarge these pockets of moorland and replenish them. The moors depend on human intervention for their survival and what we are doing is emulating the work of our ancestors to ensure that the landscape and the wildlife that depends on it are still there for centuries to come.
Dense areas of trees will be carefully thinned to let more light onto the woodland floor, again encouraging the growth of heather and allowing young trees space to expand.
In addition to providing more food and habitat for red squirrels, the work should also help others. wildlifeincluding Britain’s fastest declining mammal, the water vole, and rare birds such as Dartford’s warblers and nightjars.
Brownsea is part of the recently designated Purbeck Heaths National Nature Reserve, the largest lowland heathland nature reserve In England.
Since being taken over by the National Trust 60 years ago, the park has seen 50 football pitches of Himalayan rhododendrons removed by volunteers and tidy them up. The stewardship project aims to eradicate invasive species, which thrived during the decades the island belonged to a recluse, with visitors prevented from setting foot on its shores.
There are still 12.5 acres of rhododendron to be removed by next year, with work also underway on trails and trails so that visitors can move around easily.
How to get to Brownsea Island?
Foot ferry from Poole Quay to Brownsea Island takes 20 minutes and operates 10am-4.30pm one way and 10.30am-5pm return to the mainland. It costs £12.50 (€14.50) for National Trust members. Non-members pay £21.50 (€25) to cover ferry fare and access to the island.
The wooden pier at Sandbanks is being replaced, but an interim passenger service is in operation until the end of October. From the boat to Brownsea takes 10 minutes. There are two pre-bookable services, one departing from Sandbanks at 10.30am returning at 2.20pm and the other departing at 11.30am and returning at 3.20pm. The ferry fare is £8.50 (€10) for adults, with an entrance fee of £9 (€10.40) for non-members, payable on arrival on the island.
Poole is located two hours by train from London.
Where to stay on Brownsea Island
There are two cottages for rent in Brownsea, as well as the camp siteopen until the end of September.
campers It is advisable to bring light as it is a 20 minute walk from the landing point to the campsite. There are toilets, showers and a field kitchen, where cooking equipment is provided. Prices for camping range from £50 (€58) for a pitch for two nights to £300 (€347) for a four-person bell tent for two nights.
Whether you want to channel your inner Boy Scout or fancy a walk in the woods to watch the wildlifeit is certainly the season visit Brownsea Island.
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