Skip to content

Rainy day adventures on Brownsea Island

Two young children, one in a pink dress and another in a brown coat and yellow wellie boots splashing in muddy puddles on a footpath, on a sunny day with bright yellow daffodils on either side of the path which seem to glow in the sunshine
Children enjoying the puddles. | © ©National Trust Images/Annapurna Mellor

In this article, we'll share how to make the most of quieter rainy days on Brownsea Island throughout the year, when you've got a really good chance of seeing a red squirrel in the wild.

Under foot

With hard paths and wooden walkways across the island, you can get around whatever the weather. On rainy days, there are puddles to jump in and a range of habitats to explore.

The wooded areas offer shelter from the elements and are home to lots of red squirrels, which are much more visible on quieter days.

Rain shelter

Our indoor spaces like the Visitor Centre, Visitor Reception and the island's church are available for you to shelter in should the weather take an unexpected turn. There are several hides at the Dorset Wildlife Trust area, where you can shelter from the rain and enjoy watching the wildlife.

Squirrel Shuttle bus service

Accessible tours are available on our Squirrel Shuttle bus at 11.40am and 1.40pm. This service improves access for all, offering guided tours for those less mobile or with additional needs. There is also a hop on, hop off service at 10.40am and 2.40pm for those that need a little help exploring further afield, including families with smaller children. Booking is advised, please contact reception 01202 492164. Please note that there are 8 spaces for each journey, but this number is reduced if a wheelchair user is on board. This service is subject to volunteer availability on the day.

Engine Room bookshop

Browse the range of second hand books available in the Engine Room and put your feet up, knowing that every donation goes towards looking after this special place. The Engine Room also plays host to displays about this island's history and famous faces.

Villano café

After you have explored the island, head on over to the café and warm up with a hot chocolate and a slice of cake. Or try one of the seasonal soups on offer. This is a great place to warm up, dry off and enjoy the stunning views over Poole Harbour. With free activity sheets, there's plenty to keep kids occupied while a shower passes.

Girl sipping a large cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows on the top
Warm up with a warming hot chocolate in the Villano Cafe. | © National Trust Images / John Millar

'50 things...'

There are a few challenges to tick off from your '50 Things to do before you're 11 3/4' list which lend themselves to rainy days too. You can Go Welly wandering, build a den, make a mud creation or discover wild animal clues.

For more information or to see the full list, click here.

Travelling on the ferries

The Poole Quay ferry has a indoor deck and seating is provided on a first-come, first-served basis so it's best to be prepared for wet weather using our checklist:

  • Waterproof jacket and trousers

  • Wellies or waterproof shoes

  • A change of clothes for little ones

  • Warm jumpers and hats

  • A map of the island so you can navigate to the nearest rain shelter

Visitors travelling via ferry to Brownsea Island looking out of the window
Stay warm and dry in the saloon on the ferry over to Brownsea Island | © National Trust Images / Sophie Bolesworth
Two children in coats and wellies walk along the path with umbrellas up towards East Riddlesden Hall, Yorkshire

Top ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ activities to do when it’s raining 

We've compiled a selection of items from the ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ list that are perfect for rainy days, so grab your waterproofs and get involved.

An aerial view of Brownsea Island and Sandbanks in black and white.

History of Brownsea Island 

Discover the stories of Brownsea Island through the years from medieval to modern and meet some of the characters that have helped shape the island's history.

Couple eating at a picnic table with views over Poole Harbour in the background

Eating and shopping on Brownsea Island 

Fuel up for your adventure at the Villano Café, where you'll find a wide variety of hot and cold drinks, snacks and light meals. Elsewhere, shop for a Brownsea Island souvenir at the Trading Post and browse our second-hand bookshop.