Islands of Poole Harbour

Although I have walked around Poole Harbour I have not quite finished with it’s coastline, since the large shallow harbour also contains a number of islands. These are mostly private and/or inaccessible without your own boat, but below is a list and the access details that I have been able to find of the 10 islands within the harbour.

From the list there is easy public access only to Brownsea. It is possible to stay in a cottage on Round Island and I believe there are occasional guided walks to Pergins Island. The others are all in private ownership and I believe inaccessible.

For this reason the only of the islands I have visited and walked around (as much as is possible) is Brownsea, which I will detail in a seperate post.

Brownsea Island

Brownsea is the largest of the islands within Poole Harbour and the closest to the harbour mouth. Here is a map.

Originally known as Branksea Island, the island was in private ownership until 1961 where the previous owner died and the island was sold to the treasury by the owners son, to settle her death duties. A consortium of the National Trust, Dorset Wildlife Trust and John Lewis Partnership ended up combing their resources to raise sufficient funds to secure the purchase of the island from the treasury. It is now owned by the National Trust and open to the public for most of the year. Boats leave regularly from both Poole Quay and Sandbanks. There is a charge for the ferry to the island (including for National Trust members). In addition there is a landing charge on the island if you are not a member of the National Trust.

A little over half of the islands, coast is accessible. This includes most of the south and west coasts, and a small part of the east coast. In total a little over half of the island is accessible to the public via the National Trust. The northern part of the island is leased to Dorset Wildlife Trust who allow access to part of this area (for an additional charge of £2) on a self-guided nature trail. Branksea Castle at the south east of the island is owned by the John Lewis Partnership and operated by them as a private hotel for their staff and public access is not permitted (although I have been inside). The island is a nature reserve, famed for it’s birdlife and red squirrels.

Drove Island

A small marshy island just off the Studland peninsula by Goathorn Farm. Here is a map.


There are no buildings on the island and it is mostly marsh. I am not aware of any way to access the island other than by a private boat, or it’s ownership status.

Furzey Island

This is a private island, located south and west of Brownsea Island. It is owned by the gas and oil company Perenco (when it was sold by BP). Here is a map.

The island contains two oil wells, largely hidden from view because of the line of pine trees around the edge. There is a lot of oil under Poole Harbour and the two oil wells on the island pump this out. Oil tankers can sometimes be seen coming and going from the island on a flat topped ferry which operates from the long jetty on the north east of the island. Looking at the island from the outside you would have little clue that this industry is going on, since the islands appeareance is largely woodland. There is no public access to the island.

Giggers Island

Located right at the west of the harbour near Wareham and the mouths of the river Piddle and Frome. Here is a map.

It is owned by Dorset Wildfowlers and not accessible to the public. Given it’s usage I would not recommend trying to visit unless you want to get shot.

Green Island

This island is just south west of Furzey Island. Here is a map.

The island is currently privately owned and there is no public access. The current owners new £4,000,000 burnt down in 2012.

Long Island

This island is to the west of the harbour, just off Arne. Here is a map.

It is currently privately owned and I believe owned by a property developer. Public access used to be possible (and at least tolerated) by the previous owner. However an application to have a Right of Way confirmed on the island was dismissed in 2009. There is no public access to the island.

Otter Island

Located at the south western edge of Lytchett Bay. Here is a map.

A marshy area of land only just seperated from the mainland. I can’t find anything about the ownership or access to this island, but as far as I know it cannot legally be accessed.

Pergins Island

Located in Holes Bay to the west of Poole town centre. Here is a map.

Also called Doughty Island. It is part of the Upton House Estate I believe and the previous owner decreed it could be used for camping by the residents of Poole and Hamworthy. The estate is now owned by Poole Council so I presume is legally accessible by the public, but I don’t know of any way to get there other than by private boat or possibly wading over the marsh from Upton Country Park at low tide, but I am not sure if that is even possible (and would certainly be dangerous). I have found that there have been guided walks (organised by Upton Country Park) to the island in the recent past, but I have not been able to find any walks coming up.

Round Island

Round Island is just east of the Arne peninsula and joined to Long Island at low tide via marsh. Here is a map.

It is privately owned, with I think 5 houses on the island. However these are let as holiday cottages, so unlike most of the other islands, it is possible to visit this island but to do so you will need to book a holiday cottage on the island. The cheapest of these is £110 a night and the minimum stay is 4 nights, meaning that it costs £440 to visit the island. Much as I would like to visit I can’t justify this sort of expense just to see the island!

Stone Island

A sandbank (or stone bank) really, this tidal island is mostly revealed at low tide and is right by the mouth of the harbour. Here is a map.

There is no vegetation and no buildings. If you have your own boat I don’t think there is anything to stop you gaining access, but there is nothing to see!


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