What most surprises first-time visitors is that, although undeniably grand in stature, the Castle is actually a very friendly place. The contrast between its imposing façade and the everyday comings and goings of the guests is all part of its unique charm – after all, where else can you totally relax and live like a King or Queen?
The rest of the Island is run by the National Trust and the Dorset Wildlife Trust and was voted the best Nature Reserve in 2014 by BBC Countryfile Magazine.
Landlubbers will find that the island's deer, walking trails and lush foliage are a nature-lover's paradise – but perhaps its biggest claim to fame comes in the shape of an adorable population of small furry animals. While elsewhere the rampaging habits of the troublesome grey squirrel have been all-conquering, at Brownsea about 200 red squirrels live a glorious life of blissful isolation – one of only two colonies in southern England. There is always the threat of grey squirrels somehow swimming to the island, or worse, being smuggled in by a visitor, but the Dorset Wildlife Trust actively protects the reds, closely monitoring their numbers throughout the year.
If the entire family wish to explore, children's all terrain buggies are available for use from just outside the Reception office.
The National Trust also offer hourly bookable 'golf buggy' trips around the island for a small donation.
Guests can visit the Reserve when open to the public. There is a small charge, however. Go to the Visit Britain website (www.visitbritain.com) for details of local attractions and place of interest in the area.