Grab you woggles and binoculars we are off to Bronwsea Island with Rob Young.
You can keep your wet, dull British Summer and your chaotic mild-then-arctic-then-mild British Winter. Spring and Autumn in these green and pleasant lands are a joy to behold, as the BBC make such a marvellous point of showing us.
So a bright, crisp autumn day was perfect for a trip to Brownsea Island to follow up our visit of late February.
Brownsea Island is a fascinating place with an interesting history. Having changed hands many times down the years it is know to most people for two things: scouts and squirrels. The very first Scout Camp was held here by the founder of the Scout movement Lord Baden-Powell back in 1907. Brownsea Island is also one of the few remaining places in the British Isles that you can still see the charming red squirrel.
For a spell in the twentieth century the place was inaccessible to the public, the reclusive owner having banned all access following a devastating fire. Following her death, the island passed to the Treasury to pay her death duties and was then given to the National Trust in whose ownership it remains for all to enjoy.
Being a member of both we made the most of our two visits this year and I can heartily recommend a trip to anyone with some stout walking shoes and a love of the outdoors.
Brownsea Island is about a mile and a half long, three quarters of a mile wide, so you’re hardly into extreme sports territory but for a day out its great.
Access is by boat, a little passenger ferry across the calm water of Poole harbour (they run from Poole Quay regularly, though both times we took the one from the Jetty at the uber-exclusive Sandbanks, which affords an additional and different bit of sight-seeing) and entry free to National Trust members (about £6 for non-members).
In the little cafe on our arrival at lunchtime, I fuelled up on a smashing bit of beef and ale casserole and a nice hot cuppa to fend off that fresh chill in the air outside. My wife was enamoured of the bread and butter pudding with custard. And then out into the wonderful wilds of this delightful wooded oasis.
Aside from the glorious views from various spots around the island across the harbour, to Studland and over the Purbeck hills, the island is a place of Special Scientific Interest. The red squirrels are easy enough to spot and the place teems with wildlife. Sika deer live here too, though less easily spotted. Far easier to see are the peacocks that live here too and have learned that with people, comes food. These beautiful birds look a little incongruous in this most English of settings, but are striking and friendly all the same.
Over in the nature reserve we found a twitchers paradise. There was much to entertain the casual visitor and spots to sit and admire the squirrels and the birds as they flit about nearby.
More impressive were the various bird-watching hides dotted about the place, not just for their perfect placement, out at the end of long wooden corridors to hide you from the birds lest you startle them away, but also for the groups of quiet, patient birdwatchers perched in each one, watching over lagoon or reed bed alike. I have never seen so much serious camera and binocular kit in all my life in so concentrated a space!
Why not, of course, with so much to see? A feast for the eyes, a delight for the kids (big and small) and a little bit of nourishment for the soul.
Pick your own favourite time of year, when spring is springing or the summer is at its height. But I’ll take autumn, when the air is fresh, the blue sky smattered with cloud and the trees going from green to red to brown. Unless we go back in spring of course, when everything starts to wake up again.
by Rob Young
Rob has recently written and published his first book ‘Gatecrasher’. It’s a cracking read and available through Amazon.