A lovely walk

A great place for a wood and heathland wander with a good chance of seeing deer and lots of birds, especially from the hides on the edge of Poole Harbour.

Owned/managed by: RSPB

Take a closer look

RSPB Arne covers more than 565 hectares of the Arne peninsula  and is a haven for wildlife and a wide range of flora.

With woods, heathland and wetland, a visit to Arne gives a good chance of seeing deer and lots of birds, especially from the hides on the edge of Poole Harbour.

Arne remains one of the few places in the UK where all six of the UK’s native reptiles can be found. Situated on Poole Harbour and within the Dorset National Landscape, it’s a stunning place which consists of ancient oak woodland and dramatic open heathland.

Heathland (c) Michael Brown

Nature's spectacles

RSPB Arne is one of the best places to spot the Dartford Warbler, especially during spring when they will be busy nesting. See if you can spot them on the heath as they flit around the gorse, shouting at anything that gets too close to their territory (including you)!

In summer the reptiles are out; Arne is one of the few places in the UK to host all six species of native reptile. On a warm day you could catch a glimpse of a sand lizard basking in the sun, or a slow worm slithering across the path. If you’re at the reserve at dusk, listen out for the peculiar call of the nightjar churring in the heath.

Autumn is rutting season for the sika deer at Arne, you can’t miss the piercing call of the stags. Keep an eye to the sky too, Osprey heading south will often call in at Arne to fish in the harbour and devour their catch on one of the Osprey nesting posts on the reserve. In early autumn the pond dwelling raft spider can be seen hunting on the surface of heathland ponds.

The wading birds really are spectacular in winter, with internationally important numbers gathering in Poole Harbour. Arne gets large flocks of waders including avocets and an ever growing number of spoonbill, with up to 60 feeding on the reserve during the day.

Dartford Warbler

Explore the reserve

There are two different sides to the reserve, Shipstal trails and Coombe trails, with many different paths within them. Useful trail boards are provided on site so you can navigate your way easily.

The Shipstal trail to the north of the reserve takes you through many different types of land, including scrub, farmland, ancient oak, woodland, pine and birch forest, lowland heath, salt marsh, sandy beach, acidic ponds and open water. To the north end of the trail there is an enclosed bird hide so you can observe birds and wildlife from a tranquil space. A viewing platform affords stunning views of Poole and Poole Harbour in the distance.

The Coombe trails are to the south of the reserve, with views of the Purbeck Hills and Corfe Castle. This is the quieter side of the reserve and is predominantly lowland heath.
There are 2 different trails, Coombe Heath trail and the Raptor trail.
The Coombe Heath trail is the best spot to watch the resident Dartford Warblers, and in the winter the Middlebere Channel fills up with thousands of waders and wildfowl.

An Easy Access Trail starts from the Accessible car park in the middle of the reserve, it is a 30-minute looped walk through a beautiful silver birch wood, ancient oak woodland and through the dragonfly ponds.

Two Trampers (off-road mobility scooters) are available to hire, please email tramperhirearne@rspb.org.uk to enquire or reserve.

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