Brownsea Island celebrates it’s 60th year welcoming visitors

Brownsea Island celebrates it's 60th year welcoming visitors

Brownsea Island reopens to visitors this month, as the National Trust celebrates 60 years of the island being open to the public.

After being closed during the winter months for much needed rejuvination and restoration, Brownsea Island heralds it’s 60th year since being acquired by the National Trust in 1962.

Brownsea Island from above

The famous Brownsea Island – ready to explore

Famous for it’s long history including as the birth place of the Scout movement and 16th Century castle built by King Henry VIII. It was also used during WWII as an MSND (Major Strategic Night Decoy) was established at the western end of the island, with flares to draw bombers from Poole and the surrounding populated areas.

16th Century Brownsea Castle

The famous 16th Century Brownsea Castle

It is also recognised internationally as a nature reserve and area of outstanding natural beauty, with the rare red squirrel being one of it’s more famous current residents. The island’s habitats include heathland, woodland and a lagoon – internationally important for overwintering and summer-nesting birds.

The Red Squirrels of Brownsea Island

The rare Red Squirrels of Brownsea Island

The National Trust work alongside John Lewis and Partners, who lease Brownsea Castle and grounds, and Dorset Wildlife Trust, who manage the northern part of the island. There’s also an army of volunteers who give their time to support keeping Brownsea Island beautiful, protecting the delicate natural habitats and welcoming visitors.

One such volunteer is Richard, who has dedicated 60 years of the service to the Island:

‘to begin with, Brownsea was a forbidden place until ownership changed and public access became possible. The best thing about volunteering on the Island is the lifetime friendships you make with likeminded people. You join a big family and share great company.’

For the first time in three years, visitors will be able to travel to the island from Poole Quay without the need to book. They can also travel from Sandbanks but will need to book for this service.

After an awe inspiring ferry trip across the historic harbour, you will land on Brownsea and will be greeted at the reception centre. Then your very own island adventure can begin!

There’s nature trails and natural play area, wildlife havens and the historic campsite. There’s also the 19th century church and old farm house to see and of course the islands most famous residents to meet – the Peacocks and Red Squirrels!

Brownsea Island nature trails and park

Explore the island with nature trails that lead you past St Mary’s Church – built in 1853

You can find out more about Brownsea Island here.

“For the island’s family offer this year the theme for 2023 to coincide with our 60th anniversary is ‘bugs, glorious bugs’. It’s the perfect excuse to celebrate 60 of our wriggly, buzzing, flying and crawling little friends throughout the year.” – Dawn Clark, Visitor Experience Officer

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