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Your local kids guide by local mums

Free Fun for Families in Berkshire

Free Fun for Families in Berkshire

Children can be an expensive business. The dent in my bank balance after school holidays led me to start looking at what free fun there was available for families in Berkshire and the surrounding areas. And the answer is, loads. We’ve had a fantastic time getting out and about enjoying the parks, walks and activities available for little more than the cost of an occasional car park. Here’s a look at our guide to free things for families, and most of it is outside so perfect for a dry day and getting some fresh air!

The Long Walk & Windsor Great Park, Windsor

The Long Walk runs all the way from the gates of Windsor Castle up to the statue of the Copper Horse on Snow Hill. It carves a straight walkway 2.64 miles from start to finish through Windsor Great Park. This is a great place to come with the kiddies. Not only do they get up close and personal with Windsor Castle, but the path is well tarmacked and perfect for scooters (cycling isn’t allowed on the route). Bring a picnic to enjoy on the grass either side of the path while spotting the resident Great Park deer. Once you reach the top you can really see how amazing the statue is while taking in the stunning views back down to the castle and as far as the London skyscrapers on a clear day.

For parking you’ll need to either park up in Windsor Town Centre and walk up to the Castle starting point on Park Street, or you can park in the small car park on Kings Road free of charge, cross the road and walk up the pathway to join the Long Walk that way. Please note once you’re on the Long Walk there aren’t any toilets, so bring a potty if needed.

For more information click here.

Dinton Pastures Country Park, Wokingham

The play area at Dinton is huge and will keep small people entertained for hours. It has a wide range of play equipment including: zip wires, slides, swings, a sand pit, play bridge, trampolines and lots of tunnels, perfect for little explorers. And it looks really pretty too, made mainly from natural materials. There’s a large lake with a path the whole way round, it’s a gorgeous walk but pretty long so worth bringing a buggy for little visitors and some comfy shoes. You’ll also find plenty of ducks and geese so make sure to pack some extra bread. You’ll find a woodland picnic and den making space to the north of the play area, or set up camp round by the lake. If you want to get a bite to eat there you’ll find the Dragonfly Café near the main car park with outdoor seating and a selection of hot and cold food options and refreshments. There’s a large car park at Dinton but you need to pay and display so make sure you have some cash to hand.

For more information click here.

Black Park, Wexham

Bikes and scooters at the ready, Black Park is waiting. Sitting just outside of Berkshire in Buckinghamshire, this is a great place for a family bike ride, walk or just a trip to the park with an ice cream after. There are over 10 miles of well surfaced paths suitable for buggies and scooters for the adventurous amongst you! You’ll find a large car park on arrival which is pay and display, we paid £3.70 for 2 hours (that’s the only non-free bit done). A short walk through the woods takes you to the lake with a path that goes all the way round. On the other side of the lake you’ll find a large woodland play area for the little ones, with plenty to keep them busy. It’s a perfect afternoon out for kiddies who like exploring, we spent ages collecting acorns, making campfires and playing hide and seek. You’ll find toilets by the play area, and also a nice café selling refreshments and food which can be eaten inside or out on the terrace. There’s also a little refreshment cabin over the other side of the lake near the car park.

For more information click here.

Donnington Castle, Newbury

If it’s a dry day why not head over to Donnington Castle near Newbury, where adventure loving little ones can run free and enjoy the fresh air at the same time. Here you’ll find the remains of what was once a luxurious 14th Century residence. The site is steeped in history and has had some pretty well-known guests including Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, and now you too can visit for free. The impressive twin-towered gatehouse still stands, and kiddies will love exploring around the outside of the castle and the defences built to protect its inhabitants during the English Civil War. It’s completely free of charge, and there’s parking on site which is open 7.00am – 7.00pm (or during reasonable daylight hours). Bring drinks and snacks with you and you’ll really love this trip.

For more information click here.

Jocks Lane Park, Binfield

You can easily spend a few hours here on a dry day, there’s loads to keep the little ones busy and it all feels safe and largely enclosed. On arrival there’s a big free car park, taking away the hassle of a desperate hunt through the dark recesses of your bag for any loose change. Jocks Lane has a big children’s play area with climbing frames aimed at different ages so it’s appropriate for smaller and bigger children. There are swings, slides, interactive play sections, tire swings and much more. Across the other side of the car park in the field you’ll find more play equipment including a pretty speedy zip wire for braver kiddies. And our favourite part, there’s a great splash pad here too. It’s a good size, mainly enclosed and has seating around the edges for parents. So pack swimmers and towels if you’re heading over on a warm day. There’s a small café for hot and cold drinks, snacks, and ice creams. And toilets inside which were much nicer than I was expecting of a park, always a bonus not having to dangle children over the seat…

For more information click here.

My Pet Pals, free workshops at Pets at Home

We took our two little ones to the Small Furries free workshop at Pets at Home and they loved it. Children get to meet and hold a selection of small animals and are taught about the importance of caring for them and what’s involved in owning a pet. It’s a great thing to do if you’re considering getting a pet for your family, or just if you’re looking for something different, educational and interactive to do with the kiddies. There’s also a fish workshop available. They tend to get really booked up so take a look at the link below where you can find your nearest participating store and to book online.

For more information click here.

Locks Ride Recreation Ground, Winkfield Row

Locks Ride is the perfect spot for a fun family day out and a perfect example of free stuff we love! It’s a huge grassy expanse with plenty of space for picnicking and kicking back while the little ones play. Bring bats and balls for some good old fashioned family games, or just enjoy some time chilling in the sun. Locks Ride has a great little splash pad for cooling down kiddies. Just note that the water is turned off between 1.00pm-3.00pm daily. The play area is perfection with a soft covering of sand throughout and even some hammocks thrown in for good measure. There’s loads there to keep little ones entertained from slides, to swings, to climbing frames and rope bridges, a zip wire and built in floor level trampolines. There’s free parking on entry to the park and there are toilets by the cricket club house.

For more information click here.

Free Fun at Ray Mill Island & Boulters Lock, Maidenhead

Ray Mill Island and Boulters Lock are one of my youngest memories as a child. It’s been a firm favourite with families for a long time, and is somewhere I love taking my children now for a afternoon outside in the fresh air, and it’s free. To access the island walk past Boulters Restaurant and turn right crossing over the pedestrian bridge. On the Island you’ll find small play areas and a lovely place to walk and feed the ducks. There’s an aviary and guinea pig enclosure, toilets, lots of picnic tables, and a café for refreshments and ice creams. At the far end of the island is Boulters Weir, one of 50 remaining on the Thames. On your way back to the car why not sit at the Lock for a bit and watch the boats come in and out. There’s no parking on the island but there’s Boulters Lock car park which is a large open air car park just across from Boulters Lock on Lower Cookham Road, SL6 8JN. This is just 50p for up to 3 hours, or free with an Advantage Card.

For more information click here.

Shepherd Meadows & Sandhurst Memorial Park, Sandhurst

Shepherd Meadows and Sandhurst Memorial Park are adjoining sites offering loads of recreational activities and walks for families in the Sandhurst and South Berkshire area, on the River Blackwater. Shepherd Meadows consists of 100 acres of wet wildflower meadows and woodland, perfect for adventurous children looking to build dens and pretend campfires. This makes for a lovely walk spotting the local wildlife and collecting nature items. There are picnic tables next to the River Blackwater if you fancy lunch al fresco. There is a good network of paths interlinking the two sites. Sandhurst Memorial Park is home to a fantastic children’s play area with loads of equipment and an activity trail. Here you’ll find loads to keep kiddies active including football pitches, basketball & tennis courts, a skate park and cricket pitch. There’s also Pistachios Café for refreshments and toilets found here.  

For more information click here.

The Nature Discovery Centre, Thatcham

The Nature Discovery Centre at Thatcham is a great day out for all the family, even the dog. There’s a beautiful lake with a walk all the way round the outside which is great for children who will love the interactive displays and games. The fish tanks are a great way of showing what life is like under the water and bringing this to life for little ones. There are two fantastic play areas for smaller and bigger children, so this really is suitable for all ages. There’s a café in the main building for food and refreshments with great outside seating offering views over the lake. You’ll find ample car parking which you can donate money to in order to help with the maintenance of the site.

For more information click here.

 

We hope you found this post useful. For other ideas on days out for families in Berkshire, click here.

 

Image: The Long Walk, Windsor Great Park

 



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