There are some marvellous country parks in Poole, Bournemouth and the Dorset countryside. The area has some fantastic walks and areas to explore. If you are looking for a leisurely stroll with tea and cake, parking and toilet facilities, here are some excellent options:
1. Upton Country Park near Poole
Upton Country Park in Poole comprises of over 140 acres of parkland leading down to Holes Bay in Poole Harbour.
There is a walled garden to explore and lots of footpaths. In fact the park is growing, with additional farmland being converted into public space for all to enjoy. In October 2019 a large play area was also opened for toddlers through to teenages to have fun in. There is a café serving tasty sandwiches and cake and parking is very reasonable.
2. Hengistbury Head Nature Reserve near Bournemouth
Situated between Bournemouth and Christchurch at the end of Poole Bay, Hengistbury Head has some stunning views towards the Isle of Wight and Old Harry Rocks. There is a modern visitor centre and a land train if you start to feel weary.
Mudeford Sandspit is situated to the Eastern side of the Head and is also worth walking around to take in the scenery and the beach huts that sell for well over £200,000.
3. Moors Valley Country Park and Forest near Ringwood
Set in the within vast woodland and part run by the Forestry Commission, Moors Valley is brings you much closer to experiencing the New Forest without having to travel too far.
The park has an authentic steam railway, Go Ape, Extensive play areas, bicycle hire, golf and fishing too.
4. Kingston Lacy near Wimborne Minster
Owned by the National Trust, the gardens at Kingston Lacey are extensive, and includes Japanese and Kitchen gardens.
You can also look around the flamboyant Bankes family home dating back to the 17th Century and built to resemble an Italian palace.
5. Avon Heath Country Park near Ringwood
This quiet country park has a big play area for children and a café. You can get a map of various different length walks from the visitors centre and learn about the wildlife in the area. It is popular with cyclists and families and the parking is reasonably priced for the area. The park is a mix of woodland and heathland with streams and reptile enclosures to enjoy.
6. Durlston Country Park near Swanage
Also on the coast, Durlston Country Park can be found to the west of Swanage. Walking along the South West Coastal Path, you get fantastic views over The Channel along some craggy coves and undulating hills.
Within the grounds there is a castle (now the visitor centre and cafe) and lighthouse.
7. Arne RSPB Reserve near Wareham
Run by the RSPB, and recently visited by Springwatch, Arne is a great for spotting birds and other wildlife.
There are some interesting walks across heathland and into woods, and great views across the harbour back to Poole from the shingle beach.
8. Highcliffe Castle near Christchurch
This elegant castle makes a perfect base from which to start a walk along the cliff top or along the beach. There aren’t many maps on site, so it is worth consulting an OS map before you start your journey. There is a good size car park, a great café serving excellent cakes and the modest castle grounds and surrounding woodland are also worth a wander. If you are lucky, you might also chance upon a wedding ceremony and see some happy newlyweds.
If you are interested in more local parks with children, please see our post on playgrounds within Poole and Bournemouth parks.
That’s the end of our list, thank you for reading. Do you know of any great parks in Poole and Bournemouth we have missed or information we could add? Feel free to get in touch and let us know.