What’s on the islands of Poole Harbour? Oil wells, John Lewis getaways and £3million wildlife programs

Locals and visitors alike are often amazed by the sheer size and beauty of Poole Harbour. At its only coastal entrance, on its eastern side, it hosts Millionaire’s Row and the luxury strip of Sandbanks, and west of its mouth begins Studland and our rather well-known nudist beach.

Pass through the harbor and there are a host of islands catching your eye. Some are big and obvious, others are small and subtle. On these, your chances of spotting the properties there are limited. There are actually five remarkable islands in Poole Harbour, and they all serve very different purposes.

From a hidden maze of underwater oil wells to a lesser-known John Lewis escape, these islands are largely deliberately private, so here’s what we know about them…what we can tell say…

Read more: Award-winning £5million house in Poole has a swimming pool hidden under the dining room

Furzey Island



Only from above can Furzey Island’s network of oil wells be spotted

Apart from rare sightings of an oil rig hidden behind pine trees, there is no indication that Furzey Island sits atop Western Europe’s largest land-based oil farm.

Beneath the tiny mass of green earth are 22 oil wells that supply the Wytch Farm oil field run by energy giant Perenco since 2011. Oil is mined from Hampshire and Dorset, stabilized on site by separating the oil, gas and water, then transported via a 91km pipeline to a terminal at Hamble, Southampton Water.

Although oil production at the site was expected to decline at the start of the decade, modernized techniques have meant the facility is expected to remain in the area until 2037.

Who owns it?

Furzey Island in Poole Harbor is owned by oil and gas company Perenco.

How much is it worth?

Estimates assume that Wytch Farm, the parent oil farm that processes Furzey’s underground oil, was producing 20,000 barrels of oil per day. With oil sales rates from 2021 to £47.23 per barrelthe farm’s output alone is said to be just under £1 million a day.

Can I go there?

Furzey Island is an oil station and therefore rightly highly secure. The site is busy 24 hours a day and does not accept tourist visits.

Brownsea Island



Red squirrel hides in the branches of a tree on Brownsea Island
Red squirrel hides in the branches of a tree on Brownsea Island

Poole Harbour’s most famous island, from day trips to private getaways, Brownsea is a crowd pleaser. The largest island in Poole Harbour, the site is shared between the National Trust and Dorset Wildlife Trust.

Opened to the public only in 1963 after being closed for three decades by recluse Mary Bonham-Christie, it was immediately thrust into the limelight as it became the site where the Scouting movement was launched by military general Lord Baden- Powell.

During the Boer War, General Baden-Powell had become a national hero for his tactics during the 217-day siege of Mafeking. During the period, it is claimed that Baden-Powell saw the local cadet corps on site being used as part of tactical defense by standing guard for troops, carrying messages and assisting men in the hospital. This was said to have freed the soldiers to fight more effectively.

After the war, as Baden-Powell returned to England, he wished to educate young boys with skills he had witnessed, and he was invited to set up an experimental camp on Brownsea Island. The course, with lessons in tracking, fire-lighting, cooking, nature study and charity, is what is now known as the first meeting of the Scouting movement.

Today, Brownsea offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the history of the movement as well as learn about the island’s natural biodiversity, which includes a red squirrel population of 250.



Brownsea Island tourist map does not highlight the castle
Brownsea Island tourist map does not highlight the castle

Visitors can book accommodation on the island on a variety of National Trust sites, but there is one Brownsea “hotel” that is not on the official tourist map…

Brownsea Castle, a defensive fort of Henry VIII at the entrance to the harbour, is nestled next to the island’s main pier. Owned by the National Trust, the picturesque stone building cannot be accessed via the association’s website as it is leased from the John Lewis Partnership. The Partnership worked with the Trust to restore the castle and now offer it as ‘getaway accommodation’ at their head office Staff. Listed on their site as a “scenic island getaway”, it is indeed a luxury perk.

Who owns it?

Brownsea Island is jointly owned by the National Trust and the Dorset Wildlife Trust.

How much is it worth?

Brownsea has a rich variety of assets ranging from its castle to accommodation and tourist infrastructure, in addition to the value of its rich biodiversity and history. It is unlikely that Brownsea will ever be tendered for a private sale due to these factors.

Can I go there?

Brownsea Island is accessible by public ferry of Poole and Sandbanks.

green island



Green Island is a private island in Poole Harbor owned by Edward Iliffe
Green Island is a private island in Poole Harbor owned by Edward Iliffe

A private island owned since 2005 by owner of the Edward Iliffe Press Group. Little is known of Mr. Iliffe’s use of the island. The area is said to be home to a number of residential properties and in 2011 Mr Iliffe obtained planning permission to build a three-storey eco-house on the site.

Then, in 2012, tragedy struck when a fire engulfed a four-story wooden building on the island that was, at the time, under construction. A court case ensued whereby the construction company building the eco lodge was ordered to pay damages seven digits after “faulty installation of a wood-burning stove or flue”.

Who owns it?

Green Island is owned by newspaper group owner Edward Iliffe.

How much is it worth?

The island was purchased in 2005 for £2.5million. With inflation, that estimate wouldn’t put the island’s value at nearly £4m. This does not take into account additional assets.

Can I go there?

Green Island is private land and not serviced by tourist boats.

round island

A former Royal Navy base during World War II, Round Island (illustrated, main image) has been in the Palmer family since 1968. The Palmers, who are involved in a Dorset-based construction company, put the whole site up for rent in early 2020, when the family would have used the site less. often.

Listed with a monthly fee of £15,000, the prize included access to the 15 acres of grounds, a sandy beach, two on-site caretakers who also provide short boat trips from the pier, a private viewing room, as well as the opportunity to wander the grounds with the island’s own colony of peacocks. As spring 2020 hit and lockdown measures changed the market, the family returned the island to individual vacation rentals.

With UK holidays being a successful market in a post-pandemic world, available vacation rentals on the island cost between £145 and £325 a night and, as of summer 2021, the island is said to have a two-year waiting list for bookings.

Who owns it?

Round Island has been owned by the Palmer family since 1968. The family are members of a successful Dorset building company.

How much is it worth?

Due to the long nature of the property and the fact that the island has a variety of assets which are not listed on their business website, it is difficult to assess the cost to sell of the property.

Can I go there?

You can book one of three vacation rentals on the island from £145 a night…just book fast as the waiting list is long.

Long Island



Long Island in Poole Harbor is unspoilt private land
Long Island in Poole Harbor is unspoilt private land

Perhaps the most mysterious of all Poole’s islands, Long Island is an uninhabited stretch of land just a few feet wide and can nearly split in size at high tide.

The island was owned by the Rempstone estate for 250 years until it was finally sold in 2010 for £3m to an owner from a local property group, who claims he has no plans to develop it and instead wishes to conserve it as a refuge for wildlife.

The island is popular with pleasure boat owners and along with the other islands in the harbor is known as a safe haven for birds such as avocets, black-tailed godwits and wild birds.

Who owns it?

Dave Wyatt, owner of Wyatt Homes, a local real estate development company.

How much is it worth?

Reportedly sold for £3m in 2010, the land would be worth around £3.9m today.

Can I go there?

Much of the island disappears under water at high tide. Boaters are believed to have used the island as a stopover point. Commercial boats do not stop on the island.

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