Brownsea Island is the largest of the five islands in Poole Harbour. Access is managed by the National Trust and the island is open to the general public from March to October. The church of St Mary (not owned by the Trust) has a light ring of 8 bells (4-2-21), rung from an upstairs ringing room (with its own fireplace). Bands are encouraged on Sundays in Summer (May to September) to ring for the 15:00 afternoon service, but the bells are available at other times too. Ringers are welcome on practice nights in the summer - see details on the Brownsea Island tower page.
Brownsea Island can be reached by foot-passenger ferry (Brownsea Island Ferries - 01929-462383) from either Poole Quay (SZ008903) or Sandbanks (SZ037871). Car parking at Sandbanks is extremely limited, but parking can be guaranteed by the ferry company for coaches (see previous 'phone number). There is a National Trust car park at Shell Bay (accessible by taking the Sandbanks-Shell Bay car ferry or by road from the Studland direction) but this can be full, especially at weekends. Parking at Poole is a better plan, but even this can be difficult on warm weekends in the holiday season. There are also (less frequent) trips to Brownsea from Bournemouth and from Swanage (The Dorset Belles - 01202-558550).
A National Trust landing fee is payable on the island. If you are in a party ringing for a Service then eight ringers are usually allowed free entry. National Trust members do not have to pay.
The total cost of the trip for an adult couple is likely to be around £42, made up as follows (2017 prices) -
- Ferry fare from Poole Quay - £10-75 adult return (children £6-75) - discounts for groups
- National Trust Landing Fee - £7-70 per adult (children £3-85) - a little less if booked as a group
- Car-parking at Poole Quay - £5-00 for 5 hours
- Ferry fares from Sandbanks - £6-50 adult return (children £5-00)
Brownsea provides plenty of interest for visitors. It was the site of Baden-Powell's original experimental Scout Camp. It has a large nature reserve and many woodland walks and is a favourite with bird-watchers. It is well-known as one of the refuges of the red squirrel. There is a National Trust tea-room and shop on the island and plenty of space for picnics.
The return boat journey to Poole Quay normally goes "around the islands". This can be a very enjoyable trip but takes longer than the outward journey and needs to be considered when planning any other activities in the same day.
Car Park Information