A day at Moors Valley Country Park is a great way to get your kids active and outdoors. Moors Valley Country Park has so much to offer, including walking and cycling trails, playgrounds, Go Ape and Nets Adventure and plenty of beautiful forest. It’s the perfect way for everyone to get fresh air, get outdoors and have fun in a very natural environment.
Moors Valley is in Ashley Heath, Dorset on the borders with Hampshire. It’s a great day out if you live in the area or are visiting the New Forest or South England. This blog will advise you the best things to do at Moors Valley Country Park, so that you know what to expect. It will guide you through our visit and give practical tips, so that you can plan your own visit to Moors Valley.
We started our day out on the Play Trail. We followed the play trail path through the forests, stopping every now and then at a giant wooden playframe. These all have a nature theme, such as ants’ nest, a giant eagle and a crocodile. Kids can climb, balance, crawl, run and jump. It is outdoor adventure at its best.
The trail is only 1 mile, so is suitable for children of all ages. Trails are easily accessible for buggies and wheelchairs.
Of course, being in a forest you can also stop to make dens, climb a tree or play hide and seek. Little children may wish to look out for sculptures of characters from the Gruffalo books, which can be found near the forest picnic areas.
Tree Top Trail
Halfway round the Play Trail we ventured across the Tree Top Trail. This wooden walkway through the trees is 5 metres high and 200 metres long and gave us a great view of the forest below.
Near to the Visitors’ Centre is an education room, the Ranger Den. They have a number of tanks with small creatures. We fell in love with the tiny harvest mice, who had been caught in the nearby meadow field and bred.
We also saw snakes, lizards and tadpoles. They are all creatures that live at Moors Valley Country Park. The ranger was present to answer any questions children might have and there were lots of information boards.
Younger children could also try their hand at fossil hunting.
For those wanting more high-adrenalin adventure in the tree tops, you can pay to do one of the Go Ape courses. You get to follow an obstacle course over suspended walkways and challenges at 11 metres in the sky.
They have 2 courses at Moors Valley:-
- Go Ape Tree Top Challenge is for children over 10 years old, who need to be supervised by an adult.
- Go Ape Tree Top Adventure is for younger children. There is no minimum age, but children have to be at least 1 metre.
Top tip: Book in advance as they are very popular at weekends and in the holidays.
Having done the Go Ape quite a few times. the Chimptrips boys opted to try Nets Adventure.
This is basically a playground in the trees. Children run around the nets and play with the giant inflatable balls (well throw them at each other). When we were there, there was a sonic time trial challenge too.
Details of prices can also be found on Go Ape.
Top tip: The session lasts 2 hours and has to be supervised, so take a friend or a book!
Segway at Moors Valley Park
If you are over 7 stone, you could take a Segway for an adventure through the woods.
After our 2-hour session in the Nets Adventure, we headed for the playgrounds. Moors Valley has two adjacent playgrounds, aimed at different aged children. We chose the Adventure Play Area, with its zip wire, castle of towers, walkways and tunnel slide for older kids.
Younger children could go next door to the Castle and Sandworks area, where the amusements are a bit gentler.
After our trip to the playground, we took a short walk around Moors Lake. This is a pretty walk, which starts and finishes by the railway station. There is a kiosk here where they have a good selection of ice creams. In the summer, the meadow is an ideal picnic spot, but it was extremely water-logged when we went.
If you are an angler, you can pay for a permit to go fishing on the Lake.
Moors Valley Park has a rather charming miniature railway, which runs around the playgrounds and lake. Kids love riding the steam train, as it goes through tunnels, makes lots of steam and blows its whistles. You even get to change stations at the authentic Kingsmere Station.
Opening times at Moors Valley Country Park
Moors Valley is open every day from 8am (except Christmas Day). Closing times vary according to the season.
It shuts at 5pm in the Winter, 6pm from April to July and later in the Easter and Summer holidays.
Getting to Moors Valley Country Park
Moors Valley is in the New Forest, between Ringwood and St Leonard’s. It is an ideal day out for anyone living in the South, as it is only 10 minutes from Bournemouth.
We travelled from Surrey and it was a direct route, via the M3 and M27.
Parking at Moors Valley Country Park
The parking at Moors Valley has been extended and there was plenty available when we visited.
Some reviews have complained about the parking rates, as it is rather steep. However, admission to Moors Valley is free, so could be the only cost and seems great value for a day’s entertainment.
If you live locally, you could consider buying an annual car season ticket for the park from the Visitor Centre.
Eating at Moors Valley
There are plenty of great picnic spots at Moor Valley, either in the forest or by the Visitor Centre.
Alternatively you could go to Moors Valley restaurant, Seasons, which serves local Dorset food all day. There is also a kiosk outside, which serves hot drinks and snacks.
Ice creams are available from the two railway staions at the miniature railway.
Dogs at Moors Valley Country Park
Dogs are allowed at Moors Valley, but there are many areas where they have to be kept on a lead. Of course, there are lots of children everywhere, so it is essential that dog owners clear up after their dog.
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