Over 800 years ago King John rode out from Odiham Castle in Hampshire to Runnymede in Surrey, the birthplace of the Magna Carta. Today the legend of King John still lives on in Odiham and there’s much evidence of the village’s medieval past. Whether you’re tempted by the history of this charming village or its scenic natural surroundings, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Odiham with kids.
Located between Windsor and Winchester, Odiham was a popular stopping place for Norman kings. Today it is easily accessible from the M3 and only an hour from London.
Odiham boasts a wealth of historic attractions and its situation on the picturesque Basingstoke Canal offers opportunities for fun on the water. Read on to follow in our footsteps (and those of ancient kings) to discover the best attractions and our 8 best things to do in Odiham.
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Visit King John's Castle
First stop for a visit to Odiham with kids must be at King John’s Castle, on the outskirts of Odiham. Odiham Castle is in a picturesque setting by the banks of the Basingstoke Canal. Built in 1207 by King John of England, Odiham Castle is now in ruins. Nevertheless, it is still an impressive fortress and one of the best free things to visit in Odiham.
You won’t need long to explore the castle. However, you can extend your visit with a picnic in the castle grounds or a walk along Basingstoke Canal.
You can either walk to Odiham Castle from the town centre or park in Tunnel Lane and take the shorter walk from there.
Admission to Odiham Castle is free and it’s open every day.
Take a walk by Basingstoke Canal
The Basingstoke Canal runs along the edge of the town and is one of the best places for a walk in Odiham. The canal starts at nearby Greywell in Hampshire and flows to West Byfleet in Surrey. This gives you 32 miles of beautiful waterside walking.
The stretch of canal in Odiham is extremely scenic and the water’s so clear you can see the canal bed. Children will have fun spotting wildlife on the water, including geese, ducks, moorhens, and herons. They can also look out for the brightly coloured canal boats moored along the way.
Explore Odiham Common
Another of the best places to walk in Odiham is at Odiham Common. This wood pasture is just North of Basingstoke Canal and is great for a nature walk. You can combine this with your walk by the canal. You can access it from the car park at Colt Hill Wharf.
There is a large meadow by the car park, which is ideal for games and picnics.
Mess about on the water
One of the most fun things to do in Odiham for older children is hire a kayak on the Basingstoke Canal. If you fancy messing about on the water, head for Galleon Marine on Colt Hill (opposite the Waterwitch pub). They have kayaks, rowboats, canoes, and paddle boards. If you want to explore more of the canal, you could even hire a narrow boat.
Wander through medieval alleys
Odiham is a Saxon town and bursting with history. You’ll find a selection of medieval alleys, linking the Georgian High Street with The Bury. This is the ancient street by All Saints Church, which was formerly the hub of Odiham. History-lovers will love looking round this area. Look for the half-timbered houses, original stocks and whipping post or ancient prison.
You’ll even find a tapestry which depicts Odiham’s 800-year history.
Take a peep at the Pest House
One of the most intriguing of the historic attractions in Odiham is the Pest House. You’ll find this quirky little building at the far end of the cemetery at All Saints Church. Built in 1600 it was originally a home for poor families in the parish. However, it later became a Pest House (or Plague House), an isolation house for travellers with the plague.
This Pest House is unusual, as it was built in the heart of the town, rather than on the outskirts. It is also one of the most important historic buildings in Odiham, as it is one of only five remaining in Britain.
Hunt for ancient treasure
One of the most fun things to do in Odiham for kids is follow a Treasure Trail. The self-guided trail will take you round the historic streets, giving you directions and clues to solve on the way. The trail takes about two hours but led to all the main sights in Odiham, without the kids losing interest. Some of the clues are quite challenging, so you need to be alert and use your best problem-solving skills! We’ve already tried the treasure trails in Wimbledon Village and Farnham and find them a great incentive to get kids exploring new places.
The Odiham treasure trail never ventures far from the High Street, so you can stop for refreshments if you need a break.
Have a pancake
If your kids love food as much as mine, head to La Crêperie, the authentic French pancake restaurant in the High Street. Kids can choose from basics, such as lemon and sugar or mouth-watering favourites, such as banana or Nutella.
Getting to Odiham
Odiham is between Basingstoke and Farnham in South East England. It is easy to get to via the M3 and is just a few miles from junction 5. The sat nav postcode is RG29 1LP.
You can park in the free car park at Colt Hill near Canal Wharf or in the High Street.
If you are going by public transport, the nearest train station is Hook. Trains run regularly from Waterloo and take about an hour. From Hook station you can take a taxi or the number 13 bus.
What are your best things to do in Odiham with kids? We’d love to hear your suggestions below.
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