Review 2014: Exbury Gardens & Steam Railway

Today’s review by me (Louise) is: Exbury Gardens & Steam Railway

Exbury Gardens are in the New Forest, near Beaulieu and just 20 minutes from junction 2 of the M27, near Southampton.

It’s about a 50 minute drive from Basingstoke.

The Gardens postcode is SO45 1AZ

Play: Gardens

We went to Exbury Gardens a couple of weeks ago, when the weather was a bit drizzly and pants. We had a fabulous time though!

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The Gardens are HUGE! There are over 200 acres. We only saw a fraction of the gardens in the 4 hours that we were here. I would have loved to have stayed longer, but Miss NHM was getting to meltdown point as she was tired.

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We had a picnic whilst we were there and were very lucky because it didn’t rain and we had the picnic area to ourselves.

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We spent some time wandering through the gardens.

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We wandered over to the Five Arrows Gallery to see the display that was currently showing. Miss NHM really liked looking at the pretend birds and I loved the pretend Humming birds. She wanted to touch everything though, so be warned that your little ones might want to run riot in here too! lol.

096The seating outside the Five Arrows Gallery looked lovely but it wasn’t appropriate weather to sit out.

093 We also spent some time in the new Play Area that has just opened which is fabulous!

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As you can see, we mostly had it to ourselves for over an hour!

Play: Steam Train

The Steam Train journey was AWESOME! One of the best I’ve ever been on.

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It last’s for just over 30 minutes and goes through a viaduct, bridge, tunnel and there are LOTS of things to see on the way.

Viaduct

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The train stops at a small station halfway through your journey and the Guard gave us a short talk about the gardens, which I found fascinating (turning into my Mother. No comment!!!).

Miss NHM even got to wave the guard flag on the return journey! I was far more excited about this than she was! lol.

The Guard advised that the best time to Exbury Gardens is in May, when the Rhodedendrons are out. I’d also love to go back in the autumn as I bet the colours are stunning.

We had a brilliant day out and the gardens and steam train were much better than I expected!

Tips

Book your tickets in advance online as they are cheaper.

Take a picnic with you.

Check the train times before you leave reception so you know which times the train is running.

Watch out for the geriatrics. They are everywhere! lol. Hence it’s a great place to take Grandparents who love gardens ;-).

The M27 can be busy on weekends, so take this into consideration for your travel time.

Food

We had hot chocolate and cake in the Cafe onsite, Mr Eddy’s Tea Room just before we left.

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It was good but expensive so I’m glad we took a picnic with us for lunch.

Facilities

The toilets are in excellent condition. They even have Dyson hand dryers and everything is electric, including the soap!

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There are also Dog water bowls next to the toilets.

Baby Facilities

Even the gents in the middle of nowhere has baby changing facilities!!!! Mr NHM confirmed that they were also in excellent condition.

The Seats inside the engine shed could be good for breastfeeding if it’s raining and you are looking for a bit of privacy. Could be a bit cold though.

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Parking

Gravel Parking but there is LOADS of it.

Prices

There is no doubt that it’s expensive getting access to the gardens and the steam train, however the family ticket was very reasonable and would have been worth it if we had another child.

Gardens & Train: It was £15 for an adult and £6 for a child aged 3-15 years. For a family ticket (2 adults and 3 children) it is £38.75.

Gardens Only: £11 for an adult and£3 for children aged 3-15 years. For a family ticket (2 adults and 3 children) it’s £24.75.

Children under 3 were free for both Gardens & Train or Garden only.

However, if you buy your tickets online in advance, you do get a discount.

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Rating out of 5: 4.9

The rating is just under 5 because it’s expensive. Otherwise, we had an absolutely brilliant day out and I was very impressed with the facilities.

The best time to come is May but keep an eye on when flowers are blooming at home as this will give you an indication of precisely the best time to visit Exbury.

Do you ever visit anywhere based on a Review you’ve read on NHM? I would love to hear from you and whether you agree with mine and the Secret Reviewers comments!

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