Entertain your family for free

August 18, 2022

Let the children blow off steam, relax and explore interesting attractions, beautiful parks, and nature reserves, all available locally, with no entry fee.

Ash Ranges

Experience breath-taking views of far-reaching Surrey countryside, with 2,439 acres of the softly rolling hills, heathland, and woodland. A site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Protection Area, the Ash Ranges are home to a wide variety of species including rare birds, reptiles, and beetles. Owned and managed by the MOD, with dogs also welcome.

Fleet Pond

This stunning 141-acre nature reserve is home to the largest freshwater lake in Hampshire, with a picnic area, woodland, heathland and circular footpaths suited to bicycles too. Spot a variety of wildlife in this Site of Special Scientific Interest, with birds, butterflies, dragonflies, and wildflowers. The car park is free with no time restrictions, whilst further paid parking is at Fleet station.

Horseshoe Lake and Yateley Common

Take a relaxing, looping 1.2 mile stroll around the inviting Horseshoe Lake in Yateley. Popular with the locals for watersports, with a variety of habitats for wildlife such as grasshoppers, dragonflies, butterflies, and frogs, you may see grazing cattle whilst you’re there.

If you’d like to go further, you can reach the Blackwater River path or Yateley Commons from here, too. A Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Protection Area for wildlife, Yateley Common offers heathland, woodland, and ponds, threaded with bridleways and paths. Parking for both the lakes and common can be found at Wyndhams Pool.

Hartley Wintney Commons

Ancient commons awarded the Green Flag award for three consecutive years and Heritage Site Accreditation for two, these beautiful commons offer a dog friendly setting, with green spaces, veteran trees, rare flora, and fauna. Relax, let children play or explore the areas of Phoenix Green, Mildmay Oaks and West Green in the rural village of Hartley Wintney.

Queen Elizabeth Park, Farnborough

Immerse yourself in the tranquil 24-acre woodland of Queen Elizabeth Park, perfect for enjoying a natural setting with the family. Take in scenic views of rolling Hampshire countryside in this haven for wildlife, enjoy the sense of seclusion away from urban living and let the children have fun in the play area. Within the reputable area known locally as Farnborough Park, there’s free car parking available for up to two hours and accessed from Farnborough Road.

Whitewater Meadows and Bassetts Mead Country Park, Hook

A peaceful setting with meadowland along the River Whitewater, Whitewater Meadows offers mown paths extending about 1.5 miles. With picnic areas, benches, disabled access, and free parking, this is ideal for the whole family. Further countryside walks can be accessed here.

The charming Bassetts Mead Country Park is also nearby. Stroll along the riverbank where you might be met with dragonflies, or wander through the meadows, by the ponds and wooded area, rich with flora and fauna. Managed by the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, grazing cattle can sometimes be found in the meadows, too. Several car parks are available for access.

Odiham Castle
Once besieged by French knights, the ancient ruins of Odiham Castle offer a long history. Built circa 1216 by King John, the castle was a royal residence until the 1400’s when it became a hunting lodge. Now close to the picturesque Basingstoke Canal, the ruins are managed by the canal authority. Dogs are welcome, if they are kept on a lead. The ruins are open all day, so with the long summer evenings, there’s no rush until it’s bedtime for the kids!

The Vyne, Sherbourne St. John

Free to National Trust members, there’s plenty for families to do at The Vyne this August, with daily activities running until 4th September.

Wildlife Spotter Challenge

See if you and the children can spot a variety of birds, butterflies, and dragonflies with spotter sheets available at the visitor reception. You may even like to download a bird call app in advance, to find out which birdsongs you can hear! Available from 10am-4pm.

Everyone Needs Nature Trail

Ideal with or without the children, this trail offers the chance to immerse yourself in The Vyne’s beautiful grounds and explore expertly conserved woodland. With fun activities along the way and handy signs, everyone can learn how to be more mindful of nature. Available from 10am-4pm.

House Explorer Trail

Delight the children and exercise their detective skills with this historical indoor trail. Help them find hidden secrets in each room, from pooches in paintings to dragons in jars! Available from 11am-2.30pm.

However you choose to spend these late summer weeks, we hope you have a great time!

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