“ 150 acr country park with tearoom, countryshop, cyclehire, adventurous play equipment, waymarked trails, Narrowgauge steam railway, golfcourse and much more. „
Situated in Ringwood about ten miles from Bournemouth Moors Valley is a country park that literally offers something for every member of the family. It is open from 8am and closes at about 5pm although this changes according to the season.
On arrival you park in a massive car park, as it can be very popular in the summer. The car parking is paid at pay machines. It is £8 to park for the day but there is no entry fee to moors valley (although there are additional charges for certain activities). There is not much point hunting elsewhere to park for free as a lot of it is residential permit parking. If you are disabled you need to have a blue badge&tax exemption proof which needs to be shown in the visitors centre in order to park for free.
The large visitors centre is the best place to start off if you are unfamiliar with Moors Valley. The Rangers are extremely helpful and friendly. It is in here that you can book on activities (in peak season you would need to this in advance) and purchase walking, cycling and fitness trail guides. These were £1 each but the trails are quite easily followed without these so you could save your pennies for an extra ice cream!
Up near the visitors centre there is a lovely restaurant/cafe, we popped in there for a cuppa when we arrived& the breakfasts looked yummy. It offers a range of food from cakes to burgers. I had a delicious burger meal (£10) and my son had a kiddies meal(£4.99).. The wait for food was only about 15 minutes but it was obviously freshly cooked¬ just microwaved! Next to the cafe there is a large block of toilets which even later on in the day was still clean which is unbelievable with the number of people using them. There are great baby changing facilities which was a lovely find.
There is a gift shop near to the toilets (very cleverly placed for people who are waiting for loved ones to finish in the toilets) it sells a range of toys and trinklets. I didn't think it was too unreasonable and there were some cheaper items for little ones to buy.
It is hard to know where to begin on things to do at Moors Valley as there is so much, you would need at least two/three days. We followed the Play Trail which is about a mile long. All along the track there are huge structures for children and the young at heart to climb on from spiders webs to wooden beams. At the moment they are replacing the tunnels with a new treehouse. Off of the play trail you can join a tree-tops trail which takes you up through the trees but we didn't do this as we had our pushchair. The paths were easy with a buggy and would be suitable for wheelchairs. There are picnic benches along the trail although these are often busy. There are no litter bins so it is best to bring a carrier bag with you to place your bits in. This is because there is a lot of wildlife&we saw quite a few squirrels who I imagine would love rummaging through litter given half a chance.
There are lots of walking trails which take you through the woods. You will often see parts of the Go Ape Trail which adds to the fun of the walk. There is plenty of wildlife to be seen and we were pretty sure we saw badger prints. It is a relaxing walk but due to the popular nature of Moors Valley it is not long before you see others on the trail. You can purchase a leaflet with details about the walks but we found that they were easy to follow without a map.
Cycling is very popular here as little ones can safetly cycle so we saw a lot of families off out on their bikes. There are three trails from 1mile long to 7miles. We didn't try this but if you didn't have your bike with you then you can hire them for £17 a day.
Go Ape at Moors Valley is a great deal of fun we didn't do it this time but have done in the past. Through the trees there is a high ropes course including ladders, zip wire and cargo nets to name but a few. You are given clear instructions and guidance before being let out on the high ropes. Go Ape staff are always walking along the route making sure people are happy and helping out any poor soul that gets stuck! They now offer a junior Go Ape which you have to be a metre tall for ( this cost £16) kiddies must have an adult with them as well. When we were there spaces were available (although my son thought it was too scary, he is only five though) during peak season book in advance as this will be extremely busy.
There is a huge lake at Moors valley where it is possible to go fishing. A great place for a picnic and little ones will love feeding the ducks. They let you use disposable BBQ here although they must be raised off the floor (you can hire supports). The area by the lake does get extremely busy and sometimes it can feel like you have joined another family for lunch! It can be a great place to sit though if the children want to play in the parks. There is a park for older children with mini zip wire, tube slide etc. for little ones there were slides, swings and lots of lovely play sand so remember to bring buckets& spades!
Through part of the country park a miniture railway runs, it took twenty minutes for a return journey on a little coal run steam train which you sit astride of. It was great fun going through the tunnels and my little one loved waving to people. This opened just before 11am when we visited but would be worth checking times during the winter. It cost £3.30 for an adult and £2.20 for a child this was for a return and was cheaper a single journey. I was able to leave my buggy at the station to collect on our return. At the station there were lots of miniture trains to look at & you could buy ice creams (they take the litter for you).
There are lots more activities that you could try which I have not covered such as golf, Segway, fitness trail, events led by rangers and orienteering.
If you are on holiday it would be well worth planning two days for your visit and if you live closer purchasing. Season ticket would save on he cost. Although I do feel that £8 for parking is extremely good when you consider the cost of the upkeep of the trails and parks. The only downside is if it is raining it is all outdoors so although it is still open the play trail activities would be very slippery & there are no covered picnic areas.
If you are Ringwood way then this would be well worth a visit I am sure you will not be disappointed.
Having only recently moved into the area, we discovered Moors Valley Park by accident. What a great mistake to make!! There is so much to do for all the family, and is cheap day out as you only need to pay for parking.
If you're local to the park, it's well worth getting a pass for the car park. We have just paid £66 for the year to get both our cars in at any time. Well worth the price, and means when friends come to stay, we pile into our cars so we don't need to pay for parking at all.
There is so much to do too. The place is huge and well laid out - and we've definately not seen the whole park yet! Near the entrance are 2 play areas, one designed for smaller children set in a large sand pit, and another for bigger kids with wooden climbing activities, zip wire and slides. Behind this is a lovely lake to walk around, with a nature trail behind that (which goes around the golf club). For a couple of pounds, the shop sells a variety of different activity packs which keep you going for ages. We have the nature trail pack, and still have not completed all 12 points on it!
If you're up for a challenge, Go Ape is available at additional charge throughout the park, or you can hire their segways as a different way to get around. I prefer to stay on the ground and watch all the mad people swinging through the trees instead!
My two kids love the play trail, which gets you walking around the large grounds, stopping off at a variety of kid friendly activities ranging from a maze, to tunnels and a tree top trail.
If you're a keen cyclist there are plenty of trails for you to follow too, and you can hire bikes there if you do not wish to take your own. You can also complete a fitness trail around the park, with various exercises listed throughout to get your blood pumping.
There's plenty of places to stop for a picnic, just be prepared to take all your rubbish home afterwards as there are no bins available.
Overall, it's a great place for everyone to enjoy.
I live a 10 minute drive away from Moors Valley and have visited many times, usually walking which takes about 30 -45 minutes to get there. Having it so near and being so many times I never fully realized how popular it is or appreciately how lucky I am to live so close by as it really is a great place with a wide range of things to do and most for free! In my Year 11 Geography class we did a project on Moors Valley, an investigation of whether or not it was a tourist honeypot so I had to look at it from a customers and sellers point of view and I learnt a lot about it that I wasn't aware of at all! I think I decided it was in the end as we had to do a study of cars tax disks to tell where they were from and I was really surprised but how far some people had travelled. I came out with a better understanding and appreciation of having the park so close by, even though most activities are not aimed at my age anymore. I also managed to pass geography somehow...
Anyway! Probably the most popular feature at Moors Valley is the Nature Play Trail, which is small play areas made of wood, each with a different animal or insect theme. To access these you have to go on a trail through woods, the woods is not very thick though and it is easy to see if your kids running off, the trail is easy to follow as the footpath is slightly stony and there are signposts directing you to the next part. It can probably take a whole day to visit each one, especially on a warm day (as it's more popular), but there are many simple ones that I often skip from having visited soooo often! The best ones include the first one which is an 'ant hill' with wooden ants around, you can go in the hill and climb up, poke your head out and exit down a slide. The third is a giant play area which is usually the busiest but one of the best (we used to play great games of hide and seek here!). There are slides, walking things, ladders, tubes and a fire pole. Everything is made of wood and metal(slides and chains) and there is strong metal crossed wire (but stronger) on high parts for safety.
The other good parts of the trail include 'The snakes' which is too large snakes that you enter through the mouth and crawl along inside that have mini slides inside as the snakes overlap each other. Also the 'Tree Top Trail' in which you walk around a trail... in the trees! I love this as you have lovely views on the wood and there are many pond which you can often spot dragonflies at. The tree top trail isn't extremely high but I wouldn't recommend it if you have a fear of heights. There are wooden sides the entire way round that can hold onto if you wish and there is metal wire for added safety that in the all the years I have been has never looked unsafe and I've never heard of anyone having an accident. The other of my favourites is a little activity course which is about balancing, on chains, wood, rope and monkey bars, however this is usually quite busy. Other features of the playtrail include 'spiders web,' 'crocodile,' 'mini maze' and 'mushrooms.'
The playtrail leads you back to the main part of the Park, to the café and ice cream cabins. The Playtrail is very safe but adults should definitely accompany smaller kids round as they often need help climbing some of the steps, ladders and need help walking on some things. Don't expect this to be a relaxing or comfortable day for you parents though as many of the features require you to duck right down and crawl and some parts you will have to leave your child to do by themselves as they are just too small. If you child is older then there are many places to perch for a bit while they go off. I am about 5.2 and have to really crawl in some parts (I haven't been on these in a few years but I stopped growing at about 14!). Most parts of the trail are surrounded by bark too. The only downsides to the playtrail are there are no toilets around it, so make sure you go before but I have seen many parents helping their kids have a quick wee behind a tree which is fine haha! There is also no food stall but there is many seating and benches along the way to enjoy a packed lunch, there are also no bins and you must take your rubbish home. The park is extremely clean considering it has no bins though so you make sure you help keep this up!
The other main feature of Moors Valley are the two parks. One is sand and aimed at younger kids, this is made of colourful castles and things to explore, I don't know much about this one though as always been too old to investigate. The other park is a bark wood park, there is a giant slide, tire swings, basket swings, normal swings, a rope climbing frame, zip wire and a large climbing and tunnel thing that ends in a curly slide. I really enjoy this park (even at almost 20...) but it can be extremely busy on hot days, there is often a big queue for the slide and an even bigger queue for the zip wire.
Next to the two parks is a massive field where you can either eat (there are some benches provided but you can bring a blanket for the floor) or play ball games, there is shaded area too. The field is by a large lake where you can feed swans and ducks but obviously be careful as they can nip but I've never seen them come up and chase anyone for food thankfully! There are more icecream cabins and a warm food stand here too.
Another feature at Moors Valley is the mini steam train which is open topped and you sit on a long piece of wood bench inside so everyone faces the same way, you might be a little squished up as an adult but it still an enjoyable ride. I can often hear the 'Toot toot' of the train sometimes from my house too! I think it costs about £2 to board and it takes you around the park for about half an hour, it's good chance to sit and relax after all the climbing and walking inbetween the park and playtrail. The little station has toilets and a tiny food stall too but I've only been on it once. There is a large golf course here too with a bar and hot food available but I have never visited this but have heard many good things about the gold course.
The newest addition to Moors Valley is Go Ape which is a tree wire adventure activity where you are harnessed in the air and zip wire, walk and climb amongst the trees. I think it costs about £20 but I have never tried it as I'm too afraid! Many of my friends have done it though and said they all loved it. You can see people completing the first few stages when walking towards the playtrail. This is an activity aimed at teenagers and adults, so if you have moody teenagers you could leave them here while you go the playtrail with kids. There is also a huge bike ride trail which I often see families doing and I would like to have done but never looked into and don't know how much it costs. You can take your own bikes to Moors Valley though like I used to do when I was younger but I don't think there are many places to lock your bike up safely.
I had a completely different experience of Moors Valley in year 6 which I didn't know was an activity that Moors Valley offered. Basically we had a week of team building and the first two days were spent at Moors Valley, the first day we did some orienteering and survival skills in which we had Moors Valley staff teach and demonstrate different wilderness skills like how to purify your water, build a fire (this wasn't demonstrated of course!) and build a roof to sleep under. We were put in groups and collected sticks and grass to create a little place to sleep then we all had to rate each others and chuck water on them (while the makers were inside!) to how waterproof it was. The next day we did a bit of orienteering and pond dipping, this was so much fun as the pond was huge and there lots of newts and dragonflies to see, we spend the rest of this day doing the playtrail. I didn't know Moors Valley offered these types of activities and they were very informative and fun, great for outdoors and bug loving kids. It was one of my favourite school trips and I'm sure there's more information available on the website if you are interested in finding more about this.
The only downside to Moors Valley, which everyone I know comments on, is the parking prices as they are quite expensive. You can buy season tickets though if you visit a lot. Although the parking prices are pretty high, pretty much everything else is free in the park, you don't even have to pay to use the playtrail and parks! I definitely suggest taking a packed meal though, the food prices vary and aren't overly priced but I imagine if you're a big family the cost would add up, it's much nicer to eat outside on the field anyway. Dogs are very welcome too, it's a popular dog walking place but obviously clear up their mess, the park is extremely clean. I'd recommend you think about what day you choose to go as it can be extremely busy on hot days and you have to queue to go on anything, the park is till just as fun on damp days though, some of the slides may give you a wet bum but it usually means you only have to share the park with a few people at a time!
The Park has an information desk and café. The staff are always helpful and friendly and the café offers things like sandwiches, crisps, hot meals and puddings. The cafe is quite dark and stuffy inside so I would avoid it personally as it's much nicer to eat outside on the field. There is also a gift shop which sells woodland themed toys, activities and jewellery and there are toilets around the other side. The toilets aren't the nicest but it is a wooded area and the majority or people using them are kids so expect pee covered seats (ew) and a slight smell, also take hand sanitizer to save you queueing for the sinks. There is no staff around the parks, only at the food and paid activitites so you don't feek like you are being watched or judges on your way around the park and feel free to do as you want.
Overall Moors Valley always has a great, cheery atmosphere and makes for a fun, cheap day out, everyone is always happy to talk to each other too. You often make new friends as you end up waiting or helping other people or kids to do parts of the playtrail or climbing frames. It's always amusing and cute to see parents going 'come on, you can climb that, it's not high... and people are waiting for you to hurry up!!' to their child and the kid has a bit of a hissy fit or cries but then eventually does do it and then is always so chuffed and pleased with themselves for accomplishing it! Overall it's a great, cheery and cheap (even with parking expenses) day out which will without a doubt tire your children out so they go to straight to sleep when they get home!
If you are looking for a cheap day out in Dorset or Hampshire, then this is the place to be. Moors Valley provides a day out for all ages, and all you have to pay is the parking. Or if you walk in or catch a but there then it is completely free.
Its a great place for young children, who can play in the two play parks, go on the play trail, which is a series of different climbing frames, as well as go on the Narrow Gauge steam railway (which costs slightly more). Its quite easy to spend a complete day out at Moors Valley, and is considerably cheaper than alternatives around.
Should you enjoy cycling, there is a range of cycle paths that you may cycle down, and for those who are not lucky enough to own bikes, there also happens to be a cycle hire venue.
There is also plenty of things for teenagers to do. There is the Go Ape Arial Assault course (costs extra) that lasts around two to three hours, and in my personal opinion is well worth the cost. As well as this, there is plenty of forest to explore, including a lookout and a tree top walk.
If you get hungry during your day, the Seasons Restaurant sells a range of hot food throughout the day, at a fairly reasonable price seeing how all the food is sourced from local companies and farms, as well as being freshly cooked. Even with this, you are more than welcome to bring your own food to the park, although there is no bins, so you will have to take your rubbish home with you.
Overall Moors Valley is a good day out, and is worth the cost of parking. Having lived in the area for many years I'm still not bored of it.
150 acres of beautiful countryside and woodland activities. Situated near to Ringwood and clearly signposted Moors Valley is a great place to take children both young and old to burn off energy in the fresh air! This attraction has a great selection of both free and paid attractions including a golf course, small steam railway around the park, sand play area, tree top trail (not suitable for children in buggies or wheel chairs) and picnic areas. One of my families favourite walks though is the play trail, visitors follow the signs around the trail finding a range of wooden play equipment along the way which appeals to children of all ages for example the spider's web or ant hill and not forgetting the snake pit where you can crawl through tunnels!
Older children may enjoy the 'Go Ape' attraction where you can experience the trees from up above, abseil and swing from trees! This is an additional cost and has age and height restrictions. There is also the opportunity to hire bicycles.
There are adequate picnic facilities throughout the park and the Seasons restaurant by the visitor's centre provides a fantastic range of hot and cold foods-I can recommend the children's menu and the rustic open prawn sandwich!
Entrance to the park is free although parking is not! It is quite costly, but well worth it! A great day out!
Moors Valley country park situated in st ives, near to ringwood in dorset, is a beautiful forest set right back from the road and has various activities for all the family to enjoy.
The park is found after a long drive where a car parking ticket can be obtained through barriers and this is the cost to get into the park, its very little of approx £1 for over an hour. Once parked you can walk down to the initial cafe which serves beautiful food, hot drinks and snacks, a country farm shop, an information section about the park and local area, as well as a map which shows you the many different things to do and find in the park.
Upon arrival you can hire bikes for a small fee but with a £50 deposit given back after you have returned the bikes, well worth it and bikes are catered for adults, children, and babies with seats and pull along buggies. An excellent day of fun for the family and the children love them.
It has a train which is one of the best mini steam trains that we have been on. A full track going around the whole park and even has its own fully built and functional station, exquisite and beautiful for children and adults alike. In the summer this train can get packed and there is an ice cream kiosk just before where you can get an ice cream and sit to wait for the train on a beautiful and huge grassed area.
A toddlers and teenagers play area is wonderfully laid out with many adventure play frames, swings and all within sand so perfectly safe for the children and parents can be in view at all times.
Also based within moors valley is the go ape high wire park which is fantastic for older kids and adults alike, not for the faint hearted I might add but realms of fun.
Moors valley has many events on throughout the year and if you go in december be sure to book the 'hunt for the golden pinecones', this is a yearly christmas event and is beautiful and spell binding. A perfect christmas treat for the children, but wrap up as its all based outdoors, and at only £3.50 per child its a winter event to get everyone in the christmas spirit.
Moors Valley Country Park and Forest
Tel: 01425 477880
Looking for something a bit different for a Sunday afternoon stroll, then this place could tick all the boxes. Moors Valley covers 750 acres in the Valley of the Moors River. Not easily sign posted until you are right on top of the entrance, a Sat Nav device could prove invaluable to get you here.
However, if you type in the above postcode on the RAC route planner website (www.rac.co.uk), it will find the place for you and can print off directions for a return route home. There are no admission charges. Opening times are from 8 am to dusk all year round except Christmas Day and a few days in January for cleaning the site.
For public transport links contact East Dorset District Council for more information. I saw no bus stops or signs close to the park entrance and none inside.
^^^ PARKING ^^^
On approaching the entrance you will notice four ticket barriers, two for the entrance and two for exit. On busy days there is usually quite a queue. As you approach the barrier, press the green button and you will be issued with a parking ticket. Do not loose this as you need to pay before exit. If the ticket doesnt issue or the barrier does not life, there is a speaker phone direct to the information centre where rangers are on hand to help you.
To pay on exit, either place your ticket in one of the three machines just outside the entrance or hand it to the receptionist/park ranger at the desk in the information centre. You pay by the hour and charges are very expensive, on the same level as an NCP. If you are there for the afternoon, expect no change from your £10 note. Paying is by cash and most denominations of sterling are accepted. There is no ATM machine in the park that I am aware of, so make sure you have enough cash with you.
Parking on busy days can be a nightmare. Visitors are here in their masses when the weather permits and if you get here later than mid-day, be prepared to park quite some distance away from the park entrance. With no allocated parking bays, this is really just a free for all.
Pedestrians and dogs are everywhere and have no regard to motorists trying to park. Be extra observant and alert and keep to less than 10 mph around the wood. On the occasions I have been there, no assistance is given to those trying to park. Even though there are signs inside the park saying there is 24 hour security, I have never seen a security patrol around the car park, so lock or take any valuables with you.
The car park is literally in the wood, so do not expect any tarmac roads. Its uneven in places but has lots of chippings scattered around to stop slipping in bad weather. It is still accessible for wheelchairs and buggies though.
Most importantly, as this car park is vast, try and remember a landmark as to where your vehicle is. Car spaces have no markings and one tree looks the same as the rest. Leave well before dusk otherwise you might not find your car again.
^^^^ THE INFORMATION CENTRE^^^^^^
With no steps to climb, disabled access to the park should be no problem and to the information centre. This is huge barn, converted to a cafeteria, shop, toilets and information point. As you walk inside, there is desk situated on the left in the corner. A park ranger is always on hand to help you and for your safety, they are all first aid trained.
Its here at the desk where you report lost children, pay your car park ticket, book your day pass for some course fishing and purchase some of the beautiful prints for sale at the entrance. Please note that course fishing is seasonal so please call the centre prior to arrival. There are many leaflets by the desk to take, giving you details of forthcoming events at the park and the surrounding areas.
We only use the cafeteria for tea and coffee as we always pack a picnic. As like anywhere you visit now, nothing is cheap. It is self service but the pine tables and chairs are wiped down and clean. For just under £20 you can get cake and soft drinks for an average family. To be honest, take your own food. The barn is exceptionally hot and dark in the summer months and quite uncomfortable. Its much nicer to sit outside in the fresh air and enjoy the Hampshire views. The Café takes bank debit cards and cash for payment.
The Ladies, Gents and Disabled Toilet are situated just outside of the information centre. They are sign posted from inside the barn. Do not expect anything spotless and tidy; remember you are in a wooded area. The toilets smell, the seats are splattered with urine, but there is running cold water and if you are lucky, some soap in the dispensers. If you are desperate, you will use them but dont hang about. I did not personally see any baby changing units inside the Ladies toilet, though that is not confirmation there isnt one. So just incase, take a changing mat with you as there are many picnic benches situated around the area to place your little one on if need be.
^^^^^ THE COUNTRY SHOP ^^^^^
Called a Country Shop but with its abundance of plastic snakes and lizards, there is not much country about this place. Quite a quaint shop, situated inside the Information Centre, filled to the ceiling with toys, jewellery, sweets and other souvenirs. They must have had a few shop lifters in there as the assistants eyes are watching every customers move. If your child so much as touches a toy, you are pounced upon and they place the toy back in the original place. The Manager waits at the door, not to greet you but scan you up and down and thats before you go in. Not exactly a most welcoming outlet and the prices are over the top.
I did like the coral bracelets though but at £3.99 decided against it. A basic plastic horse that I last saw in Pound land was on sale for £2.50. However, the Chrystal collection is very pretty and not too over priced if you really have to buy one souvenir. Prices vary but start from £2 for a small piece.
There is limited room inside as the aisles are so tightly packed, so buggies and wheelchairs would not be able to manoeuvre sufficiently. I also recommend not taking young children inside otherwise the shop assistants might have heart failure.
^^^^^ AL FRESCO ^^^^^
For the sake of your bank balance and the goodness of your health, enjoy the fresh air, beautiful surroundings and eat your own picnic. With an abundance of picnic tables littered just about everywhere, there is no shortage of somewhere to sit. I have never seen portable BBQs, so I would not recommend you take one without ringing the information centre first.
The main picnic area is by the lake, not far from the entrance. Swans and ducks pass by but do not intrude in your eating. Pack some extra blankets, lots of hand wipes, flask of tea, a cool box and enjoy. Many families go that extra mile and bring along tennis nets, foam bats, footballs and swing balls. I personally dont as its extra to carry and there is ample for the children to do without taking half of your garden toys with you.
On the down side, there is no shade and no litter bins anywhere on site, due to the safety of the wildlife the park claims. As I havent much wildlife, except at the lake, I would say it is to reduce the workload for the staff. As you have to take your rubbish with you, pack a few spare carrier bags, you will need them if you are eating out. This is a pain admitted and can be quite smelly in the boot of your vehicle. There are no bins in the car park either so do not bother to hunt one down. You really do have to take your rubbish with you.
^^^ DOGS ^^^^
Dogs are allowed in the park as long as they are on a lead. You can let them off once inside the main forest, away from the public. Dog bins are supposed to be situated around the park to dispose of waste, but I havent seen one yet. Perhaps they are hidden in the bushes ..
I have seen a few pink nappy sacks thrown into the bushes with its dark brown contents bulging for all to see. Not all owners pick up after their dog and the further you go into the wood, the more likely you are to walk in something smelly.
I havent see any outside taps to give your pet a drink but there are on occasions, plastic bowls situated by the gift shop, information centre and train station filled with water. Dont rely on these being here and play safe by bringing your own water for your pet. Pets at Home sell a portable water bottle with a trough underneath, perfect for woodland walks for about £10.
^^^ LOTS TO DO ^^^^^^
This place is vast and there is plenty to keep you occupied for the good part of the day. Children have two amazing adventure parks to play on. One is for the younger kidlets with a sand pit enclosing it. The Play Trail is a multitude of wooden play structures ranging from a wooden ants nest, a spiders web, snakes and ladders and mazes. This gives the children the chance to climb, crawl and generally have a wonderful time. It does get busy as this section is a real crowd puller. The floor is padded and covered in chipping, so is quite safe but as some of the frames are high, be aware of your children at all times to prevent an accident.
The miniature steam train offers rides lasting around 10 minutes, taking you through a replica station where you have to change for the next train. To purchase tickets you have to go to the lake area and buy them from the ice cream hut next to the station. The ticket master punches your ticket and you climb into the small open carriages and sit astride the wooden bench, griping on for dear life as the train hurtles through the tunnels. The carriages have enclosed sides so there is no fear of falling out but it is unnerving climbing in as the carriage rocks on the small tracks.
This is good fun and the little train is immaculate, a real enthusiasts dream. If there are not too many crowds, your children can have their picture taken with the driver too. For two adults and three children, a ten minute ride cost just under £8. Not suitable for disabled users and buggies are not allowed as are wheelchairs.
The tree top trail is a 200 metre walkway through the tops of the trees and not for those with a fear of heights. Amazing views but not recommended for small children or disabled visitors.
Go Ape has to be pre- booked on www.goape.com or call them on 0870 444 5562. I have never done but according to the leaflet, there is a high risk of danger attached to this activity.
You are instructed by a qualified member of staff but are not accompanied around. An adult must supervise a child over 10 and it is your responsibility to get around the course safely. Open from Easter through to the summer. Basically it is a high wire adventure where you spend over two hours suspended in the air literally like an ape. You will be 40 feet up! Not for the faint hearted but according to the picture on the leaflet, a safety harness is provided.
The price is £25 for adults and £20 for ages 10 to 17. Payment for this can be made via credit card and debit card and a booking fee will be added. Personally I would rather sit on West Wittering beach and admire the views from a deck chair, but each to their own.
On a gentler note, there is a four hole family golf course, plus an 18 hole par 72 course for the more professional golfer. This is payable at the information desk prior to using. Please call them for a price on 01425 479776.
There are various walks available; most of the woodland has a concrete path unless you venture off course. The way marked walks include the Lake and Riverside walk. Approx ¾ mile and takes about 20 minutes to complete. This is an easy stroll, with benches and no hills to worry about.
The Look out Walk is slightly longer at 45 minutes as a guild line. This is a gravel and dirt track but takes in some of the most beautiful scenery around. There are steps here and the ground is uneven.
Park and Forest walk is 3 miles and will take around 2 hours to complete as will the Long Forest Walk. This is for the professional rambler and not recommended for young children. There are picnic benches along the way.
Because you share the park with cyclists, be very aware of them as sometimes they do not warn you of their approach until it is too late. With the noise of the outside environment it is hard to hear them and the tarmac paths are not wide enough for both pedestrians and cyclists alike. I appreciate they have to ride somewhere but I really feel it is a safety issue to have both pedestrians and cyclists together on the same route.
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Whether you want to cycle, walk or orienteer, this is quite an amazing park to spend a good part of the day. Even with the lack of rubbish bins and dirty toilets, this is still worth a visit. I wouldnt drive out of the way just to see this parkland but if its less than an hours drive away, take a look, you might be pleasantly surprised.
I traveled to Moors Valley is in East Dorset. It is a country Park which if you didn’t know where you were; you would be forgiven for thinking that you were in the New Forest. The park is on the B3081 from Verwood, the A338 from Bournemouth, and the A338 from Wimbourne. Look for the Ashley Heath roundabout and underpass, if you are driving from Ringwood on the A31. On approaching the forest there is a tall Indian totem pole that has many carvings of insects and butterflies, I didn’t see any natives doing a ceremonial dance round it; it was already raining. There is a car park that is under trees; through you have to be careful, as there are many cyclists and walkers. There is also a picnic area by the car park, and parking for the disabled. Here there is a restaurant and shop with washrooms for the disabled, the café is in a barn like building which has old oak beams and plaster walls. You can purchase a hot chocolate here with cream and Flake, for £1.60. There is a display of wildlife photography by the local photographer, which are on sell in the shop. There are wardens and rangers on hand to answer any queries. They can be contacted on 01425-570721. You can also hire bikes and tandems, including a bike with a wheelchair fixed to the front that you could cycle round all the different areas. Some of the best cycle path’s are marked with a post with a coloured arrow painted on it, the main route is two miles long with three circular routes marked off this circuit which can extend the ride up to 6 miles if you wish. The course is marked on the map with coloured dots, locks essential. There is a £25 deposit that I found a bit steep, something we’ll consider next time. There is a lake and lots of picnic areas and children’s play area, through it’s a bit off putting when it rains. You can also hear the drag racing course on Sundays, which we thought was Matchams
. There is also a miniature steam railway set out like the real McCoy with real steam which is pretty impressive, cost £2.50 for adults to have a ride which last 20 minutes. The carriages are rather small so you have to sit a stride with feet on either side of the carriage with your knee's up to your ears! the carriage wobbled when anyone got on. We started off and went round the lake towards a miniature station called Kingsmere that is like a small version of London waterloo, with the tall roofs and platforms. Here everyone has to change then the train shunts up the track to change lines and rolls backwards to pick up passengers from the other side. There is a shop here, and a model railway shop and buffet. Part of the journey includes going through long tunnels, we were on a train that had children who screamed shrilly every time we went through one which was quite deafening! The railway is open everyday from Late May to early September, 1045am to 5pm. There are a lot of walks and one of them is called the Family Walk that takes about 30 minutes. You can pick up a map to chart your way and it passes through some glorious countryside by the lake where people can go fishing, if you look at the water you can see ripples in the water where fish come up to catch the flies. On the way we stopped to look at Kingsmere Station, which by then had closed for the day. All the trains were in and two black and white cats were perched lazily upon them, there is also a model train that children can operate for about 50p. Another walk is the Play Trail which is quarter of a mile long, leading you through the forest which had graveled surfaces. Suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs, (which we used on the Family Trail). There are woodland play structures like Giant Wood Ants nests, crocodile Crossings and possibly Crocodiles, and the mushrooms. Warning: May cause hallucinations. Sign Posted off t
his trail is the Tree Top Trail, which is quarter of a mile ring taking you into a 200-meter wooden pathway through the treetops. This path is not appropriate for pushchairs or wheelchairs or fizzy drinks come to think, but there is an adjoining path from the beginning to the end. You can hire gas barbeques from the Visitor center, an 18th century timber barn, wheelchair access is also on hand. There are no littler bins at the park, as you are required to take your rubbish home with you. There is lots of flora and fauna and educational activities held each year, there is also an activity pack for schools and groups.
My husband and I decided to have a holiday at home this summer rather than going away. We realised that there were lots of places around where we live that we have not yet visited and we thought it would be nice to take our 21 month old daughter to some of them. The downside of this is that although you are not paying to stay anywhere, days out in the UK seem to cost more and more these days. I was shocked to find that outings to somewhere like Thorpe Park (which we had intended to do) cost around £19 per adult. If you add a couple of kids to this, you are talking about £70 for one day out, not including the cost of petrol and nice little extras like icecreams. We, like most people with young children, are on a tight budget and so it was on this basis that we started looking for cheaper places to visit that would suit all three of us. This is when we discovered Moors Valley Country Park. Moors Valley is a massive wooded park (750 acres) situated in East Dorset (near Ringwood). It has been thoughtfully transformed into an ideal place for families and wildlife lovers by both East Dorset District Council and the Forestry Commission. The best thing about Moors Valley (apart from it's obvious beauty) is that there is no entrance fee. You pay a fairly large charge for parking (£4 in high season) but compared to the cost of getting a family into other attractions this is nothing. There is a lot to do there from a 4 miles cycle ride to a ride on the steam railway. I could spend all day explaining what you can do there to suit all kinds of people, but we concentrated on a toddler/young child friendly area of the park, so this is what I will describe in this opinion. The park is divided into 10 different circuits for the visitor to either walk or cycle round (you can hire bikes there). We decided, for obvious reasons to follow 'The Play trail'. This trail is 3/4 mile long and every few hundred metres there is a climbing cons
truction of some kind for kids to play on. There are 8 of these in total ranging from an Indian's village to an ant's nest. This is a wonderful walk which children really enjoy. The only trouble is, it takes ages if you are not careful. We found that we had to keep tearing our daughter away from her fun, to move on to the next bit of fun, otherwise we would have been there all day. It is meant to take 45 mins, but it took us a good 2 hours. We did end up taking 10 children (not on our own thankfully) and it was quite difficult to gather them all up and keep them in one place, without one of them escaping, so maybe with one or two children it would be a bit quicker. About halfway round the 'Play Trail' is a 'Tree Top Trail'. This is a 200 metre walkway high up in the trees. It is perfectly safe for children, as the walkway is protected on either side by a strong wire construction. It is not however suitable for pushchairs, so somebody has to be prepared to miss this part and meet the others at the end of the walkway. Another favourite with our 10 children (there were 8 adults, so you need not feel too sorry for me) was the 'Castle and Sandworks' and 'Adventure Area' playgrounds. The former is a small child friendly playground with a wooden castle built in a huge sandpit. The Adventure Area is for older children and has more exciting (and dangerous) equipment such as massive slides and a zip wire. The part my daughter really enjoyed was a trip on the narrow-gauge steam railway. This is a scaled down version of an authentic steam railway, complete with stations and waiting areas. You travel round the beautiful lake, going through tunnels and waving to people as you pass by (and they wave back thankfully). You do pay for this (£2.25 return for adults, £1.50 for children over 2) but it is well worth the money. We picnicked by the lake and fed the ducks and finished off the day with a leisurel
y stroll around the lake. We got back to the car quite exhausted. We had a really lovely day and everybody ended the day happily. Although it was very busy, being the summer holidays, this didn't seem to matter. There is nothing you need to queue for (apart from the train and there was no queue for this), so the fact that there were a lot of children around was not a problem. We did have to do a quick sprint at the beginning to get away from the Brownies, but other than that it was fine! I strongly recommend you visit this place if you live in the South of England, or are planning a holiday down here. It is a place that you will want to return to again and again. We certainly will. See you there! For an official description of the park, go to: http://www.inthe-newforest.co.uk/tourism/what-to-do/moors.htm