Thank you very much to this week’s Secret Reviewer, Jo, for her fab review of Dinton Pastures!
Davis Street, Hurst, RG10 0TH
Dinton Pastures Country Park covers just over 335 acres and has 7 lakes, 2 rivers, 3 public bird hides and meadows.
It offers scenic walks, wildlife watching, fishing, golf, orienteering, water sports and a large play area for children.
I have to be honest and say I have been visiting Dinton year in and year out since I was the same age as my children so it holds a special place in my heart as I have so many memories here!
Dinton is a lovely place to go walking and given the large number of lakes and footpaths you can make these as long or as short as you like really.
The wildlife trails are colour coded and signposted so you can follow these or wander to your hearts content if you prefer.
There is a short route marked for wheelchair and buggy access however in my experience if you have a robust pram/pushchair you should be able to follow any paths.
I have certainly had no trouble pushing my Phil & Teds Sport for miles around some lesser trodden tracks in the park although I wouldn’t attempt a longer walk with my Maclaren stroller.
The lakes are beautiful to walk round and I love them equally in the brilliant sunshine of spring & summer, the autumnal colours and the winter crispness.
There are plenty of benches at various points around the lakes to sit down & rest or take in the scenery and there are lots of places where the Ducks, Swans & Geese gather where you can feed them.
One word of warning, if you feed them at the main deck by the far end of the play park then it can become a bit like a scene from the birds.
The Swans & Geese are in large numbers here and are not frightened to surround you which can be very intimidating even as an adult let alone for small children!
I prefer to take our bread to a quieter point round the lake to feed the ducks there.
In May this year the new play area was finally opened at Dinton (after delays due to the flooding earlier in the year) and boy was it well worth the wait!
The play space that has been created is nothing short of amazing! It features giant nest towers, swinging hanging logs, zip wires, funnel net trap, willow maze, a storytelling area & woodland obstacle course.
There are swings & slides and lots of sandpit areas.
At the far end closer to the lake is a woodland picnic area & den building structures plus a ‘hobbit’ tunnel and small trampoline suitable for toddlers.
There are other features such as a giants chair and dinosaur eggs to enthral your youngsters and really help their imagines run wild.
The only criticism I can make of this area is that it is so large that it can be very difficult to keep track of your little ones if you have more than one and for toddlers not all the equipment is suitable so you do need to be careful to keep tabs on them.
All in all though this is probably the best play area we have yet visited and there is no concrete in sight. I think it will keep my children entertained for many years to come.
The Dinton Activity Centre part way round Black Swan Lake offers a multitude of water sports including Sailing, Kayaking, Paddleboarding & Windsurfing.
For younger children they also offer pond dipping.
Advance booking is generally required for these activities.
Lots more information can be found on their website via WBC: http://www.wokingham.gov.uk/parks/countryside/dac/
If you are solely visiting for the DAC there is a separate car park which is generally a lot less busy.
Orienteering is available and you can pick up a pack from the café for 50p.
There is a Pay & Play 9 hole golf course (par 70 standard scratch) and clubs, trolleys & buggies are all available to hire again from the café.
For any keen bird watchers there are 3 bird hides available at various points around the park – bring your own binoculars!
Refreshments are available at The Dragonfly café next to the main car park. The café is lovely and has a vast amount of outdoor seating and an outside covered area plus plenty of space indoors too for when the weather isn’t so good.
They are very accommodating towards children & babies.
Prices are very reasonable and I can highly recommend the homemade cakes they serve.
There are plenty of picnic benches both inside and outside of the play area and there is also an abundance of green spaces which are perfect for a picnic blanket if the weather is good.
Toilets & Baby Changing Facilities
There are toilet facilities at the café, the rangers office in the main car park and at the Activity centre.
The facilities at the café are the nicest as you would probably expect.
You can access them without having to go through the café. Baby changing facilities are available in the disabled toilets and these are clean and adequate.
There is a decent sized car park at the main entrance which also has an overflow section if it does get busy.
Alternative parking is available at the Water sports centre or at the aviation museum.
If you use the aviation museum car park you are at the very far end of the country park about as far as you can be from the main entrance and play area and I would allow a good 30-40 minute walk to get there, though on the plus side parking is free in this car park.
Charges for the main car park & the activity centre car park are as follows:
Up to 1 hour – £1.20
1-4 hours – £2.00
Over 4 hours – £2.50
Dinton is a great place to visit with children of all ages (or even without children). Weather dependent you could spend anything from an hour to a whole day here quite happily.
5 out of 5
The new play area is worth this alone.