Brownsea Island wildlife walk

Walking trail

This walk cuts through mixed and pine woodland at the centre of the island.


Brownsea Island wildlife walk map pdf


Path next to church


Start the walk from the path next to the church and walk in the opposite direction from Brownsea Castle. Take the left fork in the path.


In autumn, this is a good place to see red squirrels as they feed on sweet chestnut and beech tree nuts. Carry straight along this path.

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Red squirrel on Brownsea Island, Dorset


At Rockets Corner, take the second left and continue through ideal red squirrel territory, with mature Scots pine trees on your left. Also look out for goldcrests in the woodland distinguished by a bright yellow stripe on their head, they tend to live high up in the canopy. They're the smallest European bird and have a suitably small call more of a high-pitched squeak. Other birds that can be spotted at Brownsea are the avocet (over 1,000 roosting in winter), peregrine, little egret and kingfisher in winter, and terns, gulls and oystercatchers in summer. Birds in the reedbeds include grebes, coot and the shy water rail, with its distinctive pig-squealing call. Brownsea also has internationally important birds such as the bar tailed godwit.

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Group on woodland trail on Brownsea Island


Note that the pine woodland here is regenerating. This must be managed carefully to conserve the red squirrel population. Take the next path on your left

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View over the island lagoon


Pass a track on your left, and then take the path that bears left. In this area, volunteers have recently removed rhododendron (an invasive foreign plant) to maintain the diversity of native plant and animal species. The lakes on Brownsea (which resulted from peat digging) attract many insects, including 24 species of dragonfly such as the small red damselfly and the ruddy darter. There are also green tiger beetles and many species of butterfly, such as the green hairstreak and the small copper.

Visitor watching deer on Brownsea Island, Dorset.


At the farm buildings turn left, then follow a path until you again reach the church at the start of your walk. Alternatively, take a right towards Brownsea Castle. Here, there are facilities including a National Trust shop, toilets and café.

Holiday cottages on the quay


End: Path next to church, grid ref: SZ022876

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Brownsea Island wildlife walk


The paths are uneven in some places.

Brownsea Island wildlife walk

Contact us

Telephone: 01202 707744





Brownsea Island wildlife walk

How to get here

Start: Path next to church, grid ref: SZ022876
By train

Trains to Poole or Bournemouth

By road

Poole Quay and Sandbanks are clearly signposted on roads approaching Poole. Shell Bay National Trust car park and non-National Trust car parks in Poole and Sandbanks

By foot

Poole Quay is a 0.5 mile (0.8km) walk through Poole town centre from Poole station. Shell Bay marks the eastern end of the South West Coast Path

By ferry

from Poole Quay and Sandbanks (every 30 minutes); also from Bournemouth and Swanage. A chain ferry travels from Shell Bay, Studland to Sandbanks every 20 minutes

By bus

Poole bus station to Poole Quay and Sandbanks, also Christchurch Quay to Sandbanks (June to September)

By bicycle

Signed on-road cycle routes to Shell Bay and to Poole Quay from Poole 

Brownsea Island wildlife walk

Facilities and access

  • Toilets
  • All terrain buggys
  • Gentle terrain, though the paths are uneven in some places