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Brownsea Island Campsite FAQs

Camping at Brownsea Island Campsite, Dorset
Camping at Brownsea Island Campsite, Dorset | © National Trust Images / Robin Kitchin

Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about Brownsea Island Campsite.

What time can I arrive?

You can check in at the campsite between 14:30 and 17:30 but can arrive on the island earlier if you wish.

If you have pre-booked your pitch and circumstances beyond your control prevent you from arriving on the last ferry leaving Poole Quay at 16:30, please contact us as soon as possible.

You must book in advance to camp on Brownsea Island via our online booking system. Due to the nature of our island location, we are not always able to accept same day bookings. For same day bookings please call the campsite bookings team on 07929 734508 to check availability prior to arrival.

What time is check out?

Please vacate your pitch by 10:30 and return any borrowed cooking equipment to our campsite reception when you leave. You are welcome to stay on the island longer and depart on any of the ferries that run throughout the day back to Poole Quay.

Do I have to carry my luggage to the campsite?

The campsite is around a 25 minute walk from where you land on the island. We encourage you to pack light and carry your luggage if you wish but for all public campers (not groups), the option to have your luggage transported up to the campsite is available (If you arrive on the island before 4.00pm). When you arrive on the island and pass through the island reception, the team will point you in the direction of our luggage trailer which is based at the very start of the woodland walk. Please leave your luggage here if you would like it to be transported to the campsite. It will reach the campsite by 17:30 at the latest so if you wish to set up camp earlier, please carry anything you need. The cut off for this service is 4.00pm so if you arrive later than this, you will need to carry your belongings.

For departures, we ask that you drop your luggage up to campsite reception by 09:50, as our luggage run leaves at 10:00. We will then transport your luggage back to the start of the woodland walk, where our luggage trailer can be found, and you can then collect it when you are ready to leave the island.

Please use enclosed bags and avoid transporting your camping gear in plastic bags or shopping bags.

Please note, luggage storage is not secured, and your bag is left at your own risk. We cannot accept any responsibility for loss or damage of belongings.

As part of our group camping experience, groups will carry their luggage to and from the campsite and we ask our groups to approach this in an expedition style way and to consider everything from what they pack, to the type of tents they choose to bring.

How do I get to the island?

You will need to take a passenger ferry from Poole Quay. All information on ferries can be found on the Brownsea Island webpage.

Arriving via own boat:
We love when our campers arrive via their own boat, paddleboard or even canoe and to assist you in doing so, we have attached a map which shows where you can and can’t land on the island. The easiest place to land to access the campsite is on the South Shore. Please look for two small gates on the West of the South Shore. To navigate to this point, you can use the application What3Words and the unique What3Words address: “”.

What is provided with my booking?

Each pitch will have access to a communal field kitchen where you can cook your meals. It is not permissible to carry camp cookers and fuel on our boats so please do not bring these with you for your stay.

To lighten your packing list, we also include in the price of your pitch the use of cooking equipment which we provide to you upon check in. This includes all the equipment you need for cooking and preparing food, as well as a cool box, cool blocks (which can be re-frozen during your stay), a water carrier and a kettle. You need to bring your own personal items such as cutlery and crockery.

Please see here for a link to our packing list, information and tips.

How do I cook my food?

We have communal cooking shelters dotted around the campsite which you can use for cooking your food. They are a simple set up of an open sided tent, with tables for cooking and preparing on. They come equipped with gas ring stoves and gas bottles. Cooking inside enclosed tents is NOT permitted and can be lethal due to carbon monoxide poisoning. All cooking equipment used on the island must be what we provide as safety checks have been completed on all items prior to use.

Top tip:
Why not batch cook a meal such as spaghetti bolognaise or chilli at home, freeze this, and bring it with you. The meal will defrost during your stay, and you then have a ready-made, easy campsite meal!

Café and Snack Van:

The island café is open during day visiting hours and sells a variety of hot and cold food, along with coffees, ice creams and snacks. Whether you’re after a snack to grab and go, lunch, or it’s time for tea, our Villano Café has it covered. From breakfast rolls to our famous scones and of course, ice creams available, it's both the perfect pitstop and place to relax and have a brew with a view.

The Snack Van, located at the campsite, is open seasonally and generally opens on Saturday and Sundays outside of school holidays and every day within school holidays.

Is there a minimum stay?

Our minimum stay is 2 nights. We may make exceptions for 1-night stays outside of school holidays. Please contact us directly and we can see if we can accommodate your request.

Where is overnight parking available?

There is no vehicle access available to Brownsea Island and access is by passenger ferry or via your own boat by landing on the South Shore of the island. The nearest parking is the Quay visitors multi story car park or Poole Quay Hotel car park – both around a 10-minute walk to the ferry at Poole Quay and with overnight parking options.

For up-to-date parking information, we recommend you check out the Borough of Poole website.

How do I get to the campsite once I arrive on the island?

You will need to make your own way to the campsite: a 20–25 minute walk on a rough track from where the ferries land. Suitcases and wheeled cases or bags are not suitable due to our rough tracks.

Please see here for a link to the island map.

Can I request a certain pitch, bell tent or tree tent?

We have a selection of pitches on Brownsea Island. We rotate use of our pitches, and they are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. The rotation and use of our pitches is designed to support conservation of sensitive habitat in this nature reserve.

Special requests, including requests for specific sites or adjacent camping pitches, must be indicated to us at the time of booking. We will always do our best to consider requests when allocating pitches, but they cannot be guaranteed and may not be possible. Please note that tents must be pitched 6m apart from each other.

What happens if it’s too windy?

If you are staying in a Tree Tent, if the weather forecast for your stay is due to exceed gusts of 38mph (61.5 km) or Force 7 (moderate gale) we will need to cancel your booking at short notice. In this instance, we will offer a refund, alternative accommodation type if available, or transfer your booking to another date.

For all other campsite bookings, if the weather forecast for your stay is due to exceed gusts of 44mph, the island and the campsite will need to close for your safety. You will be offered a refund, or we will look to transfer your booking to another date.

Can I bring my dog?

Dogs and other pets are not permitted on the island, other than assistance dogs however, you must notify us at time of booking if you are bringing an assistance dog with you.

Are you open all year round?

We are open from April to the end of September

Can I have a fire or barbecue?

Due to the sensitive nature of Brownsea Island (being an area of high fire risk), we DO NOT PERMIT OPEN FLAMES OF ANY KIND including open fires, coal BBQs, liquid or solid fuel cookers/ trangias. Shared field kitchens with gas cookers are provided for all campers. Please do not bring candles, sparklers/fireworks or candle lanterns of any kind. Any liquid fuels are prohibited and will be confiscated if discovered. We encourage you to bring battery lamps and torches to use over night as there is no street lighting on Brownsea Island.

Can under 18s stay at the site?

Under 18s must be accompanied by an adult and each booking or pitch must have at least one adult included on the booking.

I am already a National Trust member, do I get a discount?

Unfortunately, we cannot offer a reduction in our fees to National Trust members. Any profit generated from the campsite helps support and finance our conservation projects and we thank you enormously for your continued support.