Avon Heath Country Park
Avon Heath Country Park is the largest country park in Dorset with beautiful scenery consisting of forest, heather and heathland. Visitors can explore the landscape by walking one of the many waymarked trails and enjoy the many different species of trees, plants and wildlife. Dorset County Council who works in partnership with the RSPB to maintain and protect the natural surroundings manages this natural beauty spot.
Avon Heath is approximately 20 minutes drive from Bournemouth and can be reached by turning off at Woolsbridge Roundabout on the A31 dual carriageway. The car park is located at the entrance of the North Park.
The North Park consists of the Visitor’s Centre; Cafe, toilets and kids play area. Five walking trails varying in distance from 0.7 miles to 2.5 miles can be accessed and are well signposted.
The Discovery Centre provides information on the reserve, upcoming events, family activity details, a gift shop for souvenirs and tourist leaflets on other local attractions. Volunteers, rangers and paid staff are on hand to provide excellent expertise on the heathland. Large displays provide fascinating information on the range of plants and wildlife that can be found around this special location. A map and guide of the Park can be obtained from the Centre for free with donations welcomed.
For a small charge of £0.50 children can take part in one of the fun activity trails between 11.00am and 3.00pm. Highlights include the ‘Bug Snap’ where you are challenged to find the pictures of bugs in the trees and find the odd one out! or the ‘Hedgehog’s Hoard’ where 12 objects on the park have to be found and complete a dot-to-dot.
Regular events aimed at children take place on the heath during the year. Some of the highlights include: Den building; minibeast safari, ladybird box building, reptile walks, winged wonders, treasure trail, family bat walk and many more. Prices and times vary. Some events require children to be accompanied by an adult. Details are available from the Visitors Centre.
The Cafe is also in this area and sells a good assortment of meals and refreshments. The menu is basic but reasonably priced and caters for children and vegetarians. The Cafe has an ice-cream parlour selling a variety of yummy flavours.
Avon Heath has a great outdoor play area for children of all ages situated next to the main car park. The play area has a climbing wall, sand pit, tree house, wooden walkway and best of all, a zip wire!
The toilet facilities for the Park are next to the Cafe.
The South Park can be accessed via a bridleway and has views across to the coast and inland a panorama of North Dorset. This section of the reserve is wilder and more suitable for serious ramblers. Three walking trails are available that vary from 0.75 miles to 2 miles. Being immersed in the woodland, miles away from anywhere is the reason why you’ll want to return to Avon Heath Country Park again and again.
No barbeques are permitted unless they are booked through the Visitors Centre and lit on a designated site. Strictly no fires are allowed due to the extreme risk of fire on the heath.
Places to visit nearby
Christchurch is a 20 minute drive from Avon Heath and is located near to Bournemouth. This historic town is blessed with a variety of great tourist attractions such as its magnificent priory church, castle ruins, busy harbour and picturesque quay. Christchurch main town centre has an old fashioned high street with plenty of shops, cafe’s and restaurants for entertainment.