Lakes and heath walk, Brownsea Island
Type of walk: 'Waterside Walks', 'Hidden Places'
Brownsea lakes and heaths walk
Starting and ending at the owl barn - a great picnic spot - this short walk passes through the Brownsea countryside, down Beech Valley, past our lily pond and skirts the remains of the old vinery. It takes you along the Island's Middle Street (on the edge of two lakes with Caledonian views in miniature), up Birch Valley and on to heath land.
Starting and ending at the owl barn
1. From the owl barn, head east through horse fields to the top of Beech Valley and then turn left down the path.
As you head east through horse fields to the top of Beech Valley, turn left down the path to enter what was once part of Brownsea Farm. The owner Humphrey Sturt improved the soil to grow crops here in the 1760s. Look out for parallel ridges of soil which are the remains of daffodil beds cultivated in the early 20th century.
2. You'll pass the lily pond on the left. Watch out for our rare and famous red squirrels.
3. When you meet Middle Street you'll need to turn left again, heading west, but first have a look at 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. At the end of the second lake, watch out for dips and hollows cut into the ground surface as these may be sand, clay, peat or gravel pits.
4. Head up Middle Street, past the east and west lakes where freshwater runs off from the land. You'll also notice piles of chopped rhododendron which has been in the process of being cleared for the last 50 years.
5. Turn left after the end of the second lake.
6. Walk past a plantation of broadleaf trees and notice areas of cleared rhododendron.
7. At the top of the slope you will arrive at the heath block, a critical habitat on Brownsea and one of the main reasons for our Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) designation.
Watch out for bomb craters
A decoy site was built on Brownsea in the Second World War and German planes dropped bombs here instead of Poole. The area is perfectly safe now but the craters still survive. The military use and strategic importance of Brownsea is made clear by the castle: the Island being at the entrance to Poole harbour is an obvious place to mount guns. Sir Ralph Bankes, builder of Kingston Lacy, was required to arm the castle in the 1660s against the threat of invasion. Concrete emplacements hidden in the woods date
8. Turning left at the heath you'll eventually arrive back at the owl barn.
9. We hope that you really enjoyed this one-mile walk. The National Trust looks after some of the most spectacular areas of countryside for the enjoyment of all. We need your support to help us continue our work to cherish the countryside and provide access to our beautiful and refreshing landscapes. To find out more about how you too can help our work as a volunteer, member or donor please go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk
Ending at the owl barn
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