Monday, 10 June 2019 09:59

What's New at Moors Valley Country Park and Forest?

When we were invited to spend a day finding out what's new at Moors Valley Country Park and Forest, we jumped at the chance. The popular country park is just a 20 minutes drive from Bournemouth and makes a fantastic day out for all ages.

We were given a guided tour of the numerous attractions, some new and some old favourites, with Linda Laker and Melanie Keddie from Dorset Council and Forestry England respectively. Moors Valley is a joint venture between the council and Forestry England.

What’s New?

The ever expanding Play Trail at Moors Valley has some exciting new structures to explore. The one mile woodland trail has many unique pieces of wooden play equipment. Children can explore inside a giant ants nest, wriggle through giant snakes, and attempt the crocodile crossing. New additions to the trail include:

Bewildernest

We were given a tour of this new area with skilled craftsperson Ben Syme. The all new Bewildernest is a monster, covering 120 square metres and reaching 7.5 metres at its highest point, it is one of the largest play areas in the park and is inspired by wild play and the magic of the forest. The Bewildernest area centres around a giant nest of native woodland shrubs with a mysterious maze of tunnels inside to navigate and explore. From inside the nest you can access a 6 metre high periscope look-out tower and, if you dare, climb higher still to reach an ogre's lair. From here descend back down to the ground via a steep, curving slide.

The unique play structure is the work of the talented carpenters of Devon based Earth Wrights, who specialise in the design and build of play habitats. Linda told us, "This is a truly large scale play structure and one of our most adventurous yet! There are lots of different areas for children to explore and ways for them to challenge themselves."

Hawk House

Created by artist, Andy Frost and his team, the Hawk House structure is one of the largest pieces they’ve ever created, the hawk’s wings extend over 18 metres long and it stands over 5 metres high. The artist wanted the sculpture to be playful and accessible to families, he said: “I want this new structure to have high play value, so that children can have fun and relate to the hawk on many different levels”. His creative design for Hawk House was inspired by witnessing beautiful birds of prey, flying with Hawks In The Forest at Moors Valley.  The new sculpture re-creates the powerful wings of a Harris hawk with its tail feathers spread out as it comes to land on the forest floor.

Enchanted Woods

 A magical new play area bringing classic fairy tales to life is another new attraction at Moors Valley. The “Enchanted Woods” are filled with hand carved and crafted wooden play pieces based on characters from forest themed stories including Goldilocks and Hansel and Gretel.

Located at the start of the play trail, the “Enchanted Woods” has 12 play structures for children to explore and enjoy. Visitors can step through a large door to visit the Three Bears House area. Here children can climb up the three bears bed steps, sit down at the bear’s table complete with three porridge bowls, or splash their way through a bear paw print trail.

Inspired by the story of Little Red Riding Hood, children visiting the Grandma’s House area can crawl under the bed where the Wolf is pretending to be Grandma and speak into a sound tube to make him talk. For the more adventurous, there is a large balance beam section through Grandma’s wardrobe or they can visit another area to follow a breadcrumb trail inspired by the story of Hansel and Gretel.

Zog Activity Trail & Gruffalo Sculptures

A new activity trail is opening at Moors Valley Country Park and Forest this January based on Zog, the loveable dragon from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s magical picture book.

Fans of the Gruffalo are in for a treat at Moors Valley too. The world-famous tale has come to life through endearing new sculptures of the characters from the famous books written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. Come and meet Mouse, Fox, Owl, Snake, and Squirrel and of course the Gruffalo himself.


Other Favourites

Go Ape
We were invited to try Go Ape’s Tree Top Challenge. This blood-pumping high-rope activity is sure to test your nerve and we were delighted that Melanie joined us up in the trees. It’s a good 2 - 3 hours and be prepared for some serious climbing, zipping, clambering and the big finale - the Tarzan jump.

Moors Valley Railway

We were given the chance to ride the narrow gauge railway at Moors Valley. This 10 minutes ride is a delightful way to see many of the main areas of the park. Starting from Kingsmere Station you can travel along the banks of the Moors Lake and follow a double loop around the play area incorporating three tunnels, tight curves, inclines and a bridge, before stopping at Lakeside station. From there you can travel back alongside the lake, through a 4th tunnel and the goods yard before arriving back at Kingsmere Station.


 

Tim Woron from MVR also gave us a fascinating behind the scenes look at the workshops and, 20 gleaming locomotives and rolling stock.

Tree Top Trail and The Lookout
Half way along the Play Trail there is the option to divert onto the Tree Top Trail. This 5 metre high and 200 metre long wooden walk way takes you up amongst the trees and allows you to get a real bird’s eye view of the Forest. Nearby is an excellent viewing point too.

What else?

But there’s lots more on offer that we didn’t even have time to try. There’s cycle hire, Segway experiences, golf, fishing, hawk walks and chance to meet the rangers.

After all that you’ll no doubt need some refreshments. The Seasons Restaurant is located at the main entrance is open all day offering freshly cooked breakfasts, light lunches, homemade cakes and speciality coffees with ingredients sourced locally in Dorset and the New Forest.

There are no admission charges to get into Moors Valley, you simply pay for car parking, which makes it an absolutely unmissable day out!

Share your Moors Valley experiences with us below.


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