If you’ve never visited Poole Harbour before you might not appreciate the range of habitats it’s home to. Without doubt one of the most iconic is Brownsea Island.

It’s the largest island in the harbour and one with a fascinating history, not to mention some incredible wildlife.

Evidence of human habitation on the island dates back as far as the 5th century BC, and in that time has seen castles built and dismantled, farming introduced to the island and even a pottery business set up and fail in the mid-19th century.

One of the things Brownsea Island is most famous for is its association with Lord Baden-Powell and the Scouting movement. The first Scout camp was hosted on the island in 1907 and members of the Scouts and Guides still come here to camp each year.

Now, however, it is one of the region’s most important wildlife habitats and much of the island is covered in the natural heath and woodland that would have been there before any kind of human settlement.

And it’s the wildlife that draws many of the island’s visitors each year. The most iconic are the red squirrels, which live in the pinewoods on the western side of the island. However, sika deer, rabbits and a variety of birds also live in the woodlands here.

Along the coast - which is what you’ll get the clearest view of if you go on a kayak tour from Poole - you’ll have the chance to spot a range of birds, from oystercatchers to cormorants, while in the spring and summer you can see common and sandwich terns nesting in the Brownsea lagoon.

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