Before writing this, we had last visited Wendover Woods in Buckinghamshire in December 2015. My review then? It was ok but nothing special compared to some of the other country parks we had been to. At that point there was a Gruffalo statue, den building, a relatively unimpressive play area as well as some walking trails. My eldest son was two and a half, my youngest was a baby. Interestingly we didn’t go back after that visit and it hasn’t been somewhere I’ve suggested you visit – so stopped sharing details of it on social media. That is until now – July 2019. A couple of you who share your reviews in the Milton Keynes Kids Discussion Group had posted pictures of new play equipment which looked good – so I decided to take my youngest son – who at the time of writing is almost four – to explore. Watch my video below to see the highlights and then keep reading for more information.
Where is Wendover Woods and how much does it cost to visit?
Wendover Woods is in Buckinghamshire – about 40 minutes from where we live in Milton Keynes. The address is Upper Icknield Way, Aston Clinton, Aylesbury – Sat Nav Postcode: HP22 5NQ. You don’t pay an entry fee but you do pay to park – do check for up to date prices but to give you an idea when we visited in July 2019 it was £2.20 for up to two hours, £4.30 for 2-4 hours and £8 for over 4 hours. I think the leap to stay for over 4 hours is too much and is expensive compared to almost everywhere else we have visited. Unless you think you are going to spend all day there I’d keep an eye on the time and leave before your 4 hours is up. There were ANPR cameras when we went and you can pay by card. There were several pay machines and they were easy to use. The car park itself is big and much better than the muddy area we parked in several years ago.
What’s the new play trail like at Wendover Woods?
Wendover Woods has been undergoing a £4.5 million refurbishment for what I think seems like forever. It feels like we’ve been waiting for ages before feeling like it was worth visiting again. The first change we noticed was the car park. It’s all tarmacked and is much easier to park than previously. The next most welcome change is the play trail. Unlike other country parks where there is often one play area, at Wendover Woods there is still a play area park, but there’s fun wooden equipment dotted around a trail. I took my son for a walk around it. We thought it was great as it means you get a walk between each piece of equipment and there are lots of new things to discover. He most enjoyed an ‘ants nest’ pyramid which is a bit like a small climbing wall; the badger sett which is low level tunnels and a badger sculpture and a ‘tree lab’ where he moved pine cones around a wooden structure. There’s also an impressive ‘Red Kite’ lookout which offers you lovely views – he wasn’t so keen on that as he gets a bit nervous on bridges he thinks he might fall off. There’s also den building and stepping stones. The only disappointing thing when we went is that the hollow fort was only partly accessible as one of the steps had broken. There is a short and long loop around the equipment although there’s little difference between them and the long one is only 0.6km.
What other trails did we try at Wendover Woods?
There’s a Gruffalo orienteering trail. We should really have bought a map. At the time we visited it was £1.50. We decided to wing it however and try and find all the markers without one. (By the way, if you’re hoping for an interactive augmented reality trail where characters come to life on your phone – this is NOT that, that trail finished ages ago – this is simply markers on posts with some characters on posts along the way). Anyway, head to where the Gruffalo statue is and it starts just to the left of there. I then took my son through the woods looking for markers. The trail is not accessible for buggies or wheelchairs. We did take a couple of wrong turnings admittedly but after walking for about 50 metres and realising there was no marker we headed back to the previous one and went the next obvious way. If you’re a bit panicky buy a map from the visitors centre. If not then risk it. You end up back at the statue. At the time we visited there was also a Zog trail. We have previously done the one at Salcey Forest so didn’t bother. The activity pack is overpriced in my opinion at £3.50. If you want to literally find the markers you can but perhaps if you’ve got one in a craft box take a piece of red cellophane with you to spot the hidden pictures.
What else is there at Wendover Woods?
There’s a cute toddler play area near the cafe which includes a little house with slide as well as balance beams. There’s also another play area nearby where there’s a good sized tee-pee to sit in, swings and a nest swing.
Is it worth going to Wendover Woods and any tips for going?
Yes, absolutely it’s worth going. Although it lacks the bigger climbing frames and slides that some of the country parks locally have, there’s enough equipment and trails to keep children occupied and active. I really like the concept of having to walk and explore. Like most places we visit we take a picnic to keep costs down, but a new cafe was due to open when we visited – it may already have opened by the time you read this. You can enjoy everything there is in under four hours so I’d probably keep an eye on the time instead of paying £8 to park. You can pay by card so don’t worry if you don’t have cash. I’d definitely now drive further to Wendover Woods rather than Salcey Forest which is closer as there’s much more to enjoy at Wendover. Have fun if you visit. Please do take pictures of anywhere you go and post your feedback about what you did or didn’t like in the Milton Keynes Kids Discussion Group.
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