Lakes and heath walk, Brownsea Island
Type of walk: 'Waterside Walks', 'Hidden Places'
Brownsea lakes and heaths walk
Starting at the picnic shelter, this short walk passes through some of the most beautiful and varied habitats on Brownsea including heathland and woodland. A perfect walk for wildlife watching and keen photographers.
Picnic shelter near the healthland
1. Start at the picnic shelter in the middle of the island and follow the blue way marked route through to the heathland.
2. Pass through the heathland and take the first right hand turn into the woodland.
The heathland habitat
The heathland is a critical habitat on Brownsea and one of the reasons for our Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) designation. It’s a great place to spot dragonflies and in the summer and autumn months; witness the colourful burst of purple heather.
3. At the bottom of the track, take a right hand turn towards the quay. As you wonder down, you will pass two lakes on your left hand side which are located in the Dorset Wildlife Trust reserve.
Brownsea’s freshwater lakes
There are two man-made lakes in the central valley of the island and the nearby flooded meadows which have been colonised by reeds, attract a different sort of wildlife. The lakes are surrounded by sallow and alder trees, an important source of seed for over-wintering birds such as siskin and redpoll. You may also see where Sika deer have rubbed their antlers on sallows during the autumn mating season.
4. Continue on until you reach a right hand turn, sign posted ‘Lily pond’. Here you will also come across the remains of the old Vinery.
Looking at the remains of the old vinery, just imagine the then owner of Brownsea Island, Colonel Waugh, creating this kitchen garden in the 1850s. Many types of fruit and vegetables were grown and the long brick wall is the most visible surviving feature. To the south side were glasshouses for vines and on the lakeside you can see fireplaces for gardeners' accommodation, as well as the site of the boiler which heated the greenhouses.
5. At the Lily pond, take a seat and take a minute to take in the Heartwood art installation. How many hidden hearts can you spot?
6. Continue on wards past the Lily pond and arrive by Daffodil Field at the top of the hill.
In 1908 a previous owner of Brownsea, Florence van Raalte, had been so inspired by the flower bulb industry on the Isles of Scilly, that she decided to imitate it on Brownsea. She oversaw nearly 14 acres of daffodils which were sold locally and at Covent Garden. On average 750 bunches of a dozen flowers were picked every night during March and April. The daffodil business ended when Florence left the island but the bulbs kept producing flowers. Looks for the parallel ridges in the ground on Daffodil field and you’ll see traces of where the flowers were cultivated.
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