In mid-May 2020 once government restrictions had been lifted on driving to places to walk following Covid-19, I started taking my sons for walks within a short distance of where we live in Milton Keynes. This walk took us from Woolstone Local Park through the Poplar Plantation and on to Willen Lake in Milton Keynes. They are green spaces in Milton Keynes, and there will not be people around to monitor social distancing. If a car park is full or very busy, it may be a good idea to go elsewhere. The idea of these reviews is to give you more ideas of different places to visit – it goes without saying, don’t rush to visit, but do keep it in mind for a later date.
Where is the Poplar Plantation in Milton Keynes?
The Poplar Plantation is at the end of the Ouzel Valley Park and borders Willen Lake in Milton Keynes. For this particular walk we parked at Woolstone Local Park car park. The car park has space for at least 20 cars I would say. The best postcode for parking is 23 Newport Rd, Woolstone, Milton Keynes MK15 0AB. If you’re looking to park slightly closer to the plantation then the Parks Trust suggest you can park at the dedicated car park off Woodall Close in Middleton. The nearest postcode is MK10 9JZ.
Where did our Poplar Plantation walk start and end?
We parked at Woolstone Local Park car park – location above. We have been there previously. At a point where it is safe to go on play equipment again then there are two play areas within the park – you can find all the details of pictures of the play areas on my previous review of Woolstone Local Park. From the car park take a right following the path. You should see the wooden play area ahead of you and to the left. Keep following the path which runs next to the River Ouzel. You will come to a bridge. Just before the bridge take a left and that takes you in to the Poplar Plantation. Walk through the trees across the miniature railway line, under the bridge and then you’re at Willen Lake. My children were four and six at the time of writing. It was a bit wet when we visited. We only went as a far as a bit around the lake as my four year old was grumpy at the time. Woolstone to Willen Lake is only a short distance so good for little legs. But Woolstone or the plantation is a great location to start a bigger walk from.
What’s Poplar Plantation like?
The Poplar Plantation is lovely. It’s a nice area full of huge tall trees with the trunks wide enough for the kids to play hide and seek behind. It’s great to take a few photos and there’s a couple of picnic benches too. Under the underpass when we visited there was an NHS mural too. This is NOT a whole woodland – but a place to have fun and explore in as part of a walk.
Where can we walk from the Poplar Plantation?
Milton Keynes is SO well connected so you have a number of options. We haven’t tried them all as at the time of writing we’d just started doing more walks. The first is the most obvious, you can walk around Willen Lake. If you don’t know the area well then Willen Lake is the biggest park in Milton Keynes and also the most poplar. A walk around the lake is approximately five kilometres, taking in a North and South lake. Normally it’s the place for Park Run with a good sized play area, café, restaurant and watersports. I would not suggest going here particularly at the weekend if you want to avoid people. The second option would be to go back to Woolstone Local Park, then follow the River Ousel which takes you right through Ouzel Valley Park which is huge – looking at the map it may be quite possible to get down to Caldecotte Lake. The third would be to go to Campbell Park which again we haven’t tried but looking at the map I think it’s accessible by footpath. And the last would be to across the bridge just before the plantation following signs for Middleton. If you have the time follow the footpath signs and start exploring. Please bear in mind, depending on when you read this, that we visited on a quiet day and I have no idea how many people will be visiting if you visit. If you are in any doubt that somewhere may be busier than you would like, do try somewhere else. Most of the places I feature are free to visit and easily accessible with free car parks – and therefore numbers can not be restricted.
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