Days out, environment, nature, Parenting, Uncategorized

Arne nature reserve – RSPB Wareham

Wow! This place has completely thrown me when it comes to an incredible day out in Dorset. I thought I knew all the local hot spots when it came to Dorset and the great outdoors, but I was wrong. Hidden away amongst Poole harbour and Wareham, Arne nature reserve run by the RSPB sits like an unspoilt gem on the Purbeck coast line, ready for walkers and nature lovers (or just Jo Blogs looking for a day out) to explore and marvel at its sheer beauty.

Even the drive into the reserve has you waiting in anticipation, as you head down a long road that takes you to the main car park. A parking fee of £5 is required for those staying for more then two hours (trust me you will need over two hours to see what this place has to offer!), but of course this money contributes to the conservation of this incredible place. Alternatively you can become a member and park for free!

There is an information point at the start whereby you can choose several routes of various lengths that take you around the reserve. We had our 20 month old son in a backpack, and opted for the ‘Red route’, which was described as a 1 3/4 hour walk (one of the longer routes), allowing us to see various habitats, from woodland and heathland, to coastal areas and mudflats. I highly recommend bringing a camera, as there was plenty of opportunities to take pictures.

From the start the walk allowed us to see an incredible view of Corfe Castle, and took us through woodland whereby we saw Deer casually walking through the woodland! After approx 45 minutes of walking we came to a small enclosed beach area, where we decided to have a picnic. Lizards climbed the nearby rocks and cliffs, and apparently seals can sometimes be seen here. The view towards Brownsea Island was just incredible. During our walk we passed through mudflats, and we hid in the bird hide to see some of the birds nesting amongst the reeds! My little boy loved looking out of the windows, pointing at the birds and water.

The route finished at the main car park and visitor centre. We went for a coffee in the cafe there, which again is great, especially on a nice day whereby you can sit outside and absorb the surroundings. Everything about the place was so clean and welcoming. And to complete a perfect day out, whilst getting into the car, we saw a fox, sunbathing next to the car park! See what I mean – you just don’t get that sort of thing everyday!! Hats off to the RSPB for making this reserve such a fabulous and inspiring place to visit.



Days out, Family, Parenting, Uncategorized, Wimborne

Dorset Top 5 Easter Holiday activities on a budget

I thought I would do a quick write up on Dorset attractions to consider for the half term. If you’re like me, it’s good to have a few ideas to call upon when at a loose end! Here are my top 5 ideas of places to go on a budget:

  1. Hengistbury Head – You can park up on one of the free roads towards Southbourne sea front and walk along the beach. This location is a great place to fly a kite or search for shells and stones on the beach. Bring a bucket and the children will be entertained for hours (you might even get to enjoy a book to yourself!). If you want to spend a bit of change, head towards the @Hungry Hiker café for an ice cream, or catch the train that takes you up to the top end of Hengistbury head spit. It’s £1.80 one way for an adult, and £0.60 for a child.More information:
  2. A day out to Lymington can also be enjoyable with children, we had the pleasure of going yesterday in fact. If you park near to the Harbour you can walk to the park that sits next to the estuary. It’s great fun for those that like boats (my little lad loved it!). Bring a picnic and sit in the park, or head into the shopping area where you can buy some delicious pasties from @thepastyshop there. We end up taking a walk around the Lymington-Keyhaven nature reserve, starting at the car park next to the Mayflower Inn. In the summer you can also bring your costumes and enjoy the seawater swimming pool on the seafront. Here is a map link for those of you who haven’t been before:
  3. Visit Stewarts garden centre at Holt, Wimborne. They have a play park hidden away around the side of the garden centre which is lovely for younger children. They even have a few animals there such as ducks and pigs, and it’s completely free to go in. We tend to bring a picnic, or grab a light bite to eat in the café inside the garden centre.
  4. Park for free at Pottern Park on the outskirts of Verwood, and take a 25 minute walk into Moors Valley. The walk itself is beautiful, taking you past the lake and river on the way in. There are a few benches too, so occasionally we’ll have a picnic before arriving at Moors Valley. Fabulously FREE!!!
  5. So many options, and I’m starting to think I should have done a top ten list, but my final suggestion is going to be Upton House in Poole. The grounds are great to walk around here, and they have a coffee shop and toilet facilities. During the warmer months they have a splash area in the walled garden so the little ones can cool off whilst the parents can get the picnic blankets out. We tend to feed the ducks, and take a walk along the pathway on the edge of the harbour. The play area is small, but kept natural with trees to climb through etc.IMG_0449
    The play area at Stewart’s Garden Centre – Holt