24 things to do during the summer holidays with young children in Basingstoke

This is an incredibly long overdue post, but as it’s the last week of the school holidays you might be desperate for some inspiration, so I thought I would post it up anyway!

Many of these suggestions are free!

1. Swim in an outdoor pool.

You could investigate rivers, reservoirs, lakes or canals with towpaths as this will be a new landscape for your child to take in, e.g.:

Fleet Pond

Frensham Ponds

Basingstoke Canal

Lido’s in Hampshire

Splash pools

Or you could just play in the water at Festival Place (the big green phalic things!! lol) or check out the baby swimming pool and the stepping stones in Eastrop Park.

There is also a new splash park which was opened in May 2016, near the Spotlight centre. We are hoping to visit it soon!

2. Walk through the Woods

A trip to the woods can also be exciting – see the woodland trusts nature trails for inspiration – or bike rides. Don’t forget to check out my Basing WoodFarleigh MountBasing Lime PitsMicheldever Wood and Alice Holt reviews.

3. Visit an Ice Cream shop

We have some friends who live in Birmingham which has a fantastic ice cream parlour in the city centre. We always make a trip here, as the children really enjoy it. It’s become a bit of a tradition.

Sundaes Gelato is in Basingstoke and is perfect for an ice cream or sorbet!

4. Fly a kite

Crabtree has to be the best place for this in Basingstoke.

5. Pretend to be a pirate

My little one is obsessed with pirates at the moment. When she’s bigger, we hope to take her to the Historic shipyard in Portsmouth.

She was christened on HMS Victory, so I want to see if they have finally sorted out her plaque!

6. Play ball games

I never realised how much fun you can have with a football till my little one started kicking one!

7. Go on a bear hunt (or a Gruffalo hunt if your little one has read the book)

We are very lucky because we live very close to some little wooded areas which are perfect for bear hunting.

If you don’t live close to some wooded areas, have a look at this post HERE.

8. Go to a Country show

You may be just in time for the New Forest Show this year (it was in July), but maybe something to think about for next year.

It’s a great opportunity to see shiny tractors, lovely animals and yummy things to buy and eat. Or check out some other country shows that are coming up HERE.

9. Go to the Zoo.

Marwell is probably the closest zoo to us, but I went to London Zoo in April 2014 when she was three years old with my little one and can thoroughly recommend this too. Just don’t walk it from Waterloo like we did!

10. Sleep under the stars

We are going camping next weekend and I’m looking forward to doing this!

11. Build a sandcastle or have a sand Castle Competitions

Fleet Pond

Frensham Ponds

Or go to the Beach! The Nearest “Beaches” to Basingstoke are Fleet Pond on the way to Fleet and Frensham Pond, just past Farnham. Otherwise, head to West Wittering, which is great for toddlers.

12. Run through the sprinkler

Not particularly environmentally friendly, but great fun!!!

13. Create your own perfume

I was obsessed with doing this when I was about 8 years old. All I needed was a jar with a lid, some water and a rose bush. My poor parents had to clean out the remnants! lol

14. Roast some marshmallows

“Burning Nights” are a big thing in our house. We have a chiminea and Miss NHM loves it because we can roast marshmallows over it. We recently learnt something new about counting to “50” after you’ve roasted your marshamallow to ensure you don’t get burnt.

15. Go on a train adventure

For a proper train adventure, check out the Watercress Line or Exbury Gardens and Steam Train. Otherwise, just a trip from Basingstoke to Winchester or Farnborough will probably be exciting for little ones.

16. Rainy day card making

Click HERE for some ideas

17. Explore art and music

There are lots of music classes in the area or maybe just a trip to the Anvil or the Haymarket will be inspiring.

18. Learn a new language

Borrow some books in a different language from the library. There are even children’s books in different languages at the Basingstoke Discovery Centre.

Or maybe investigate Linguatastic, the local language school.

19. Fruit Picking – Local Pick Your Own’s

Check out my previous post on local Pick Your Own farms HERE.

20. Climbing Trees

Basing Wood is perfect for climbing trees.

21. Painting Rocks

I want to do this next year with my little one, as I think it will make less mess then! lol.

22. Have a BBQ

You can’t beat a BBQ in summer! Check HERE for a previous post about outdoor BBQ facilities in the area.

23. Daisy Chains

All you need is an area with daisies in. Hours of fun!

24. Go to a farm

Try Finkley Down Farm, Miller’s Ark, Manydown and Bucklebury Farm.

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Review 2013: Basing Wood


Basing Wood

Did you know, that we have our own equivalent to Alice Holt Forest in Basingstoke? Basing Wood, or Carpenters Down as I’ve always known it, is a fantastic huge expanse of woodland, with trails, picnic benches, a Woodland Trail, a nature play ground and the chance to spot a Deer. It’s completely free, you don’t even need to pay parking.

I’ve been walking in Basing Wood for more than 30 years. Eek!! I remember when it used to have the National Trust sign at the entrance.  I realised yesterday, when we were walking through the forest, that I remember when certain bits of the forest were originally planted with sapplings. Those trees are fully flourished now, and you can’t tell that they are less than 30 years old. Gosh, that makes me sounds ancient! lol.

We were there on Sunday and we had most of the forest to ourselves. In fact, we didn’t see a soul for over an hour, as we went deeper into the forest. It’s a great place for getting away from it all, for getting some fresh air, rain or shine, and  for exhausting your children so they sleep well ;-).

If you would prefer that someone showed you the trails within the Forest, Emma at BuggyFit does a class on Monday’s and Friday’s in the Wood.

This is the address to find Basing Wood: Popley Fields Community Centre/Carpenters Down Basingstoke RG24 9AE


There is a “natural” play park at the top of the hill (no idea what the official term of it is). You can see from the photo’s below that its great for Toddlers. The few times we have been in the forest recently, we have had it to ourselves (although, I may regret this post soon! lol). They have swings, tunnels, tree stumps, stone blocks and all sorts of other things that you can swing, clamber, climb, run through, jump over, etc. etc. We always spend at least 30 minutes here, just running around the park.


I absolutely love the woodland trail, which is just a short walk away from the play park. The wooden animals are brilliant and my Little One loves crawling over them, stroking them, and trying to feed them stones! lol.  When I’ve been on my own with my Little One, we have walked up to the end of the woodland trail, as I can’t push the pushchair up the hill because of the remnants of my SPD. She can manage to walk to the end of the Woodland trail and back, at 2 years, 3 months old. (This may help, if you are wondering if you can take your little one without a pushchair).


We also walked through the outdoor Parkour site (as it’s called on Google Maps) and this was great to explore. It’s good for older children, as they can swing on the pipes that are attached to the roof. This is half way up the hill, on the way in, and is a large wooden structure with extra “bits” to it.


The forest is a great place for a picnic. There are picnic benches in the play park at the top of the hill and the odd bench dotted through the forest. However, if you take a picnic blanket with you, you don’t need to worry about where you sit. ;-). There is also a really large grassy area next to the forest, but a lot of dog walkers use this area, so beware of where you are sitting.


One of the great things that I love about this forest, is that you can nearly always spot a deer if you are quiet and standing in the right place. We saw one with my little one a few weeks ago and she was mesmerised. We couldn’t have been more than 25 meters away from it.


Not available


Not available. But as it’s outside, it doesn’t matter where you change your little one, as there’s generally no one in view!

Baby Facilities

Not available. So maybe not as good as Alice Holt for this reason.

Most of the paths are suitable for pushchairs, but you do need to go up one big hill. So if you have SPD…be careful! However, you could walk around the grassy field next to the forest if the hills look like being too much of an issue. Or, you can dodge the hills by accessing the forest from Chineham Business Park.


is Free!!! There are about 40 parking spaces too, so you should always be able to find a space.



Rating 4.9 out of 5

Basing Wood/Carpenters Down, like Finkley Down Farm, has a special place in my heart because I’ve been going there so long. I took 0.1 off the rating because sometimes there is a lot of litter because local youths use the forest in the late evenings/night times and leave their rubbish.