Moors Valley Country Park and Forest is a popular outdoor attraction for families and people of all ages. The venue has a lot of elements – two vast and enclosed play parks for toddlers through to teens (and beyond!), the legendary Moors Valley Railway, visitor centre and café, Moors Valley Golf Club, cycle hire centre and Go Ape high-wire activity. The forest has a variety of well-designed cycle routes and walks plus an expansive Play Trail, with a series of climb-on activities ready for you to discover and explore.
A Warm Welcome
You enter Moors Valley via a friendly forest road; take a left for the golf club or a right for the country park. There is plenty of well-marked forest parking in clear zones to help you find your car at the end of the day! Follow the signs to the Visitor Centre, where you can grab a map or activity sheet to help you plan your adventure, sign up to a course or class, browse the gift shop or purchase a season ticket. The Visitor Centre often showcases the work of local artists, which frequently takes on a nature theme and is a pleasure to browse.
If you need to refuel, the Seasons Restaurant is open daily from 9am to 4.30pm (later in the summer), serving breakfasts, light lunches, home made cakes, children’s meals and speciality coffees to match all moods and appetites. It is also set up for birthdays, weddings, groups and private functions. The menu changes by season, using locally-sourced produce from Dorset and the New Forest and seafood fresh and sustainably sourced from the Dorset, Devon and Cornish coasts.
Should you feel peckish elsewhere on the site, there are snacks and drinks available from Kingsmere Railway Station at the Moors Valley Railway, ice cream kiosks between the Visitor Centre and Go Ape! and by the lake and a small outlet at the front of the Visitor Centre selling snacks and hot and cold drinks on-the-go.
If you’ve been prepared and packed a picnic, you’ll find tables near to Moors Lake and in the Forest picnic area and along the Play Trail and Nature Trail. Please protect the forest and take all rubbish home with you.
Moors Valley is packed with places to play and learn including a towering Play Trail through the forest and two well-equipped playgrounds to occupy toddlers through to teens. The Castle and Sandworks area is designed for younger children, with gentle slides, rockers, see-saws and swings and a fun play house set in a safe sand area. The Adventure Play area is for older children and features a climbing boulder, a towering fortress, a giant pyramid climbing frame and a zip slide.
If you’re visiting Moors Valley to follow the Gruffalo trail, your final stop will see you arrive in a hidden glade, with tree stumps to clamber on and hollowed trunks to scramble through. Make sure you pause for a photo with the purple-prickled one before you leave!
Messing about NEAR the River
Although Moors Valley is set in a vast stretch of woodland, there are some great open areas to enjoy too. One of the biggest expanses is the central lake, inhabited by greedy ducks and swans with plenty of wildlife if you care to take a closer look (but not TOO close!) Bring a blanket and a picnic on the grass while the kids throw a Frisbee or kick a ball. If you’re feeling ambitious you can bring down a coolbox of burgers and sausages, hire a barbecue and be the envy of everyone within sniffing distance! There is a pretty loop you can walk, bike or scoot around the lake with places to stop and watch the dragonflies and pause for photos.
Fun in the Forest
There is so much to do in the Moors Valley forest itself that you could spend the day there! The Play Trail is a series of climb-across, balance-on, scramble-over, scurry-under activities spread out over a mile of woodland. You can climb up inside an ants next, wriggle through a pair of giant wooden snakes, explore a giant dinosaur’s nest, climb a series of spider webs and attempt the devilish crocodile crossing.
Half way along, you’ll get the chance to change route for the Tree Top Trail. This wooden walkway five metres high up in the branches takes you along a 200 metre platform from which you can peep into birds nests, peer into swamps and enjoy sweeping vistas across this beautifully managed forest.
You’ll bump into lots of friendly family dogs on your roam around Moors Valley too. Dogs are permitted to enjoy the forest walks as long as they are in close control and stay on the footpaths. They must be kept on a lead in busier areas like the car parks, picnic spots, the Play Trail activities, around Go Ape! and in and around the Visitor Centre and although well-behaved dogs are allowed to join in your day (and small one can sit on your lap on the train!), please discourage them from climbing on the equipment!! There are designated paddling areas at Crane Bridge and the top of Crane Lake and plenty of dog bins and water bowls around the park to make your furry friends feel welcome.
Cyclists and walkers are also well catered for at Moors Valley. You can ride on any of the gravel or tarmac paths but the best ones for cycling are waymarked. Take the two mile “Forest Road” circuit or extend your route to seven with the additional loops. For more of a challenge, the “Through the Forest” singletrack route weaves through pine forest and open heathland edged with rocks. Why not tackle the Bike Park, a challenging place for skilled cyclists with opportunities to traverse and jump. There’s also a Pump Track for expert riders skilled in this style of riding.
There is also a cycle orienteering course you can follow in the forest. You can purchase a map pack at the Information Point in the Visitor Centre.
If you don’t have a bike with you there are many different types available to hire in adult and child sizes, plus child seats, trailers and tag-alongs to discover the beauty and breathe the fresh air at Moors Valley while travelling on two wheels!
One of the (tree) top attractions at the start of the Play Trail is the Go Ape! high-wire assault course high above the forest floor. Climb amidst the beautiful forest scenery on a series of ladders, walkways, bridges and tunnels and rattle down the zip-wire to unleash your inner Tarzan! Go Ape! is a popular attraction for families, work parties and stag and hen dos and you can book on the website or check availability at the kiosk on site. Before you’re permitted to climb you have a comprehensive demonstration and safety briefing. To take part in the full attraction you must be at least 10 years old, a minimum 1m 40 cm in height (4ft 7) and a maximum 20.5 stones in weight. Under 16s must be supervised by a participating adult.
If your adventurous child doesn’t meet the height or weight requirements, they can perfect their jungle-crossing technique on the Tree Top Junior course. This thrilling activity lasts up to an hour, negotiating 20 crossings over three trails and finishing with a zip wire plummet. Participants must be 1 metre tall and there are no minimum or maximum age restrictions although the adventure is aimed at Junior Tarzans aged 6 to 12 years.
Go Ape! also offers a fun Forest Segway experience. Explore the forest for an hour on these rugged, two-wheeled, all-terrain platforms. You’ll see the forest like never before as you bump and bounce over the rugged floor. Segway riders must be a minimum 10 years of age and weigh at least 7 stone. If you’re aged between 10 and 15 years you must be supervised by a participating adult. The maximum weight is 19.5 stone. There is no maximum age as long as you can stand for an hour and are able to lean from side to side to steer the Segway.
Moors Valley is an action-packed day out for the whole family. Whether you’re here to wear out the kids, enjoy some space or get some gentle – or high-octane exercise – there’s plenty of attractions, ideas and room to ensure every visitor gets the experience they come for. And a whole lot more.