Autumn is within the air and it’s the right time to identify purple squirrels scampering via vibrant leaves on Brownsea Island.
Non secular house of the worldwide Scouting motion, this unspoilt haven in southwest England is the place Robert Baden-Powell first took teams of boys to study bushcraft expertise greater than 100 years in the past.
The small island in Dorset’s Poole Harbour now welcomes greater than 130,000 day-visitors and campers a yr.
Why ought to I go to Brownsea Island?
In case you love being at one with nature, Brownsea is the place for you. A lagoon, lakes, reedbeds and seashores supply sanctuary to an enormous variety of birds, whereas the woodland is house to purple squirrels and sika deer.
Even attending to the island affords a style of the calm to return, with a boat journey from both Poole Quay or Sandbanks.
Whereas it’s the best place to get away from all of it, you gained’t must depend on your Scouting expertise to your subsequent meal. There’s a customer centre with a restaurant and details about the island’s wealthy historical past and wildlife.
And if the considered pitching a tent makes you groan, you’ll be happy to listen to the household campsite now boasts pre-pitched bell tents so you possibly can keep in a single day with out the stress.
Brownsea Island brims with autumn actions
Able to guide your bell tent? You’ll should be quick – Brownsea Island closes to campers on the finish of September every year. It stays open for day journeys till the top of October – leaving a bit of extra time to take pleasure in all of the autumnal sights, sounds and smells on supply.
One of many final remaining strongholds in southern England for native purple squirrels, the island is a superb place for wildlife watching. Catch the elusive creatures gathering nuts for winter by becoming a member of an hour-long guided stroll, which runs each day from mid-September to mid-October.
Choose one thing extra heart-racing? The ‘Scary squirrel story household path’ highlights how the purple squirrel wasn’t at all times the nationwide treasure it’s now, with the creatures hunted for his or her fur and tails. It runs till the top of October.
There’s additionally a fungi foray for teenagers and adults, led by Dorset Fungus Group. After studying the right way to inform your Fly Agaric from the lethal Destroying Angel, tuck into (non-lethal) mushrooms on toast earlier than heading house.
An early hen stroll and breakfast on 15 October can be a possibility to benefit from the island and its wildlife earlier than the crowds arrive.
What’s being accomplished to guard the wildlife on Brownsea Island?
The Brownsea Island Countryside Stewardship Mission is a five-year conservation scheme, funded by Pure England, that started in September 2021.
It’s the biggest conservation venture within the island’s historical past, restoring the uncommon and endangered heathland habitat.
The last word purpose is to create a imaginative and prescient in violet by slicing heather from present patches and scattering it throughout naked soil to permit new crops to develop.
Tim Hartley, lead ranger for the Nationwide Belief, says, “Brownsea has a wealthy and interesting previous and our heathlands are an vital a part of that historical past. However over the centuries, the habitat has shrunk and change into fragmented.
“We wish to enlarge these pockets of heathland and knit them again collectively. Heathlands depend upon human intervention for his or her survival and what we’re doing is mimicking the work of our ancestors to guarantee that the panorama, and the wildlife that will depend on it, remains to be right here in centuries to return.”
Dense areas of bushes can be rigorously thinned to let extra gentle onto the woodland ground, once more selling heather development, and permitting youthful bushes area to develop.
In addition to offering extra meals and habitat for purple squirrels, the work also needs to assist the island’s different wildlife, together with Britain’s quickest declining mammal, the water vole, and uncommon birds comparable to Dartford warblers and nightjars.
Brownsea is a part of the not too long ago designated Purbeck Heaths Nationwide Nature Reserve, the biggest lowland heathland nature reserve in England.
Since being taken on by the Nationwide Belief 60 years in the past, the park has seen 50 soccer pitches-worth of Himalayan rhododendron eliminated by volunteers and rangers. The stewardship venture goals to eradicate the invasive species, which flourished through the many years when the island was owned by a recluse, with guests prevented from setting foot on its shores.
There’s nonetheless one other 12.5 acres of rhododendron to be eliminated by subsequent yr, with work additionally going down on trails and footpaths in order that guests can get round simply.
How do I get to Brownsea Island?
The foot ferry from Poole Quay to Brownsea Island takes 20 minutes and operates from 10am to 4.30pm outbound and from 10.30am to 5pm again to the mainland. It prices £12.50 (€14.50) for Nationwide Belief members. Non-members pay £21.50 (€25) to cowl the ferry fare and entry to the island.
The wood jetty at Sandbanks is being changed, however an interim passenger service is in operation till the top of October. From right here, the boat to Brownsea takes 10 minutes. There are two pre-bookable providers, one leaving Sandbanks at 10.30am to return at 2.20pm and the opposite departing at 11.30am and coming again at 3.20pm. The ferry fare is £8.50 (€10) for adults, with a £9 (€10.40) admission fee for non-members payable on arrival on the island.
Poole is positioned two hours by prepare from London.
The place to remain on Brownsea Island
There are two cottages to lease at Brownsea, in addition to the campsite, which is open till the top of September.
Campers are suggested to pack gentle because it’s a 20-minute stroll from the touchdown level to the campsite.There are bogs, showers and a area kitchen, the place cooking tools is offered. Costs for tenting vary from £50 (€58) for a pitch for 2 nights as much as £300 (€347) for a four-person bell tent for 2 nights.
Whether or not you wish to channel your interior Boy Scout or fancy a woodland wander to look at the wildlife, it is definitely the season to go to Brownsea Island.