Important notice - Brownsea Island will be open from Thursday 23rd July. You’ll need to book your combined ferry and admission ticket in advance from our friends at National Trust. You can enter your DWT Memebership number at time of booking for free entry. - Click here. We are also asking visitors to wear face coverings on the boats to and from the island, but not currently in the DWT Villa Centre. Please note boats are ONLY running from Poole Quay. Ferries will run half hourly from August 3rd.
Scroll down to see our Brownsea Island webcam.
Know before you go
Entry feeSmall donation on entry to the reserve. Please note that groups larger than 15 need to book directly for entry to the nature reserve. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01202 709445 to make a booking.
Parking informationParking at Sandbanks- There is metered road parking available on the peninsular leading up to the ferry and Sandbanks car park is 10 mins walk from the Sandbanks jetty. Parking at Poole- There are signposted car parks at Poole Quay, where boats go from.
Good viewing from hides and a system of paths and boardwalks give access to most of the habitats.
The main track, Villa Wildlife Centre and two hides for lagoon views can be easily accessed. Please note that guide dogs are allowed on the island.
When to visit
Opening times• Winter weekends 10am to 4pm starting 1st February to 8th March
• Island opens daily 10am to 5pm from 14th March to 1st November
• Island open daily 10am to 4pm from 2nd November to 15th November
• Winter closure from 16th November 2020
Best time to visitEarly in the year for winter bird visitors, summer for breeding terns and autumn for red squirrel watching.
About the reserve
Brownsea Island is a very special place. It is one of the few places left in the UK where you can catch a glimpse of a red squirrel. 250 of these iconic creatures live on the island and are often seen scampering up and down the trees gathering and devouring nuts. If you have adopted one of these beautiful and playful creatures from DWT, you can get the chance to see them – a wonderfully comical sight in autumn when they busily start caching food for the winter ahead, searching out just the right spot to hide them in- a process that can take some time! Read more about our exciting #WildBrownsea project here - we have big plans to make the island better for wildlife and people.
And it’s not just the red squirrels that the nature detectives in the family will be able to spot – the lagoon plays a vital role in providing a safe haven for overwintering birds including avocets, black-tailed godwits and large numbers of wildfowl. In winter it’s also possible see huge groups of spoonbills. These tall white birds can be seen swishing their spoon-shaped bills through the water as they feed.
In the summer, the lagoon’s hides are a great place to watch common terns, sandwich terns and gulls from. The reedbeds and alder carr are home to water voles, sika deer, kingfishers and water rails.
We are very fortunate to have such a fascinating reserve on this beautiful island – which we share with the National Trust, the Scouts and John Lewis Partnership. Brownsea Island was saved for wildlife and people to enjoy in 1962 when the National Trust took ownership and leased the northern part to Dorset Wildlife Trust. Since then we have worked to protect the habitats of rare and threatened wildlife, which find sanctuary in its woods, reedbeds and lagoon. (Take a walk through the woods following the footpaths to see glorious views across Poole Harbour.)
Our Villa is situated in the middle of the reserve. Why not bring a picnic and sit on the benches in the sun, watching birds and squirrels nibbling seeds from the nearby feeders?
You can read more about Brownsea Island's place in the new Purbeck National Nature Reserve here.
Scroll down to watch our wildlife webcam from Brownsea featuring the Sandwich Terns.