I grew up on the English south coast, and Brownsea Island was somewhere that always seemed too close to bother with. In fact I think I only went there once during the eighteen years or so I lived in Hampshire. All I really remembered about it was that it didn't take very long to get there on the ferry, and there seemed to be peacocks everywhere.
In April this year, my wife and I found ourselves down on the south coast again with a day to kill, so on a whim we took a trip over to the island. It's reasonably cheap to get there on the ferry (around £10 for an adult return ticket), and as it's a National Trust property there's a landing fee of about £7 to pay once you get there (free for NT members). And, obviously my memory was working reasonably well, as it doesn't take long to get there, and there are peacocks all over the place.
All the photos in this post were taken with a Fujifilm X-T10 and the 50-200mm XF lens.
Although the feathery fellows are very fine indeed, they are given a run for their money by the numerous red squirrels that also call the island home. I'm not sure if there are many other places in England where you can see red squirrels in the wild, and they certainly have the run of the place on Brownsea.
I don't remember the squirrels at all from my previous visit. Considering I was on a cub scout trip at the time it's likely my friends and I were all running about and being too noisy for these inquisitive but wary animals. But, as we found out on this visit, if you keep still and quiet they will come pretty close. A particularly brave young squirrel even jumped onto my wife's leg for a moment!
The island is relatively small and you can easily walk around it in a day. I can imagine it can get pretty busy on a sunny weekend in the summer, but we managed to pick a bright term-time Friday and hardly saw a soul all the way around.
If you like the forest, and you like being by the sea, Brownsea Island offers the best of both worlds. There isn't much there in terms of entertainment, so if you're looking for high-octane thrills it's probably safe to say it won't fit the bill, but if an almost complete absence of technology, traffic, and hassle appeals - which it certainly did for us - it's definitely worth a look. Don't forget your camera!
Now that I've rediscovered what a nice place it is, I'm definitely not planning to wait another 30 years before I go back for another visit!