I had heard about Winnall Moors through a friend who had spent a lovely day there with her 2 little ladies. It is in the heart of Winchester, although you wouldn’t believe so once inside its magical kingdom, it’s like going through a magic nature portal. The tourist information and City Mill do discovery adventure packs. These come with things such as binoculars, bug pots, spotter sheets, bug house instructions, and a fictional story to use on your walk. Each pack requires a £10 returnable deposit. Now, those of you who know Winchester realise that just “popping in” to the centre with a vehicle isn’t really a option. And also for a vehicle such as a people carrier, it takes a little more skill to navigate all the tiny little streets to find somewhere with parking and no height limit! So, after a few trips round the one way system to locate a discovery pack, and finally being able to park the van, I was determined to take from the tourist information only what didn’t require a deposit, so I didn’t have to perform the whole large car in tiny streets operation again!! We came away with the story, bug house instructions, and three spotter sheets (I had pre-packed binoculars, nets, magnifying glasses, and bug pots x 3 anyway pre-empting this predicament).
We then hopped back into the car, did a bit more breathing in and hoping for the best driving with the van (ssshhhhh don’t tell Dadda), and then parked in the pay and display next to the entrance. There is a loop walk of about 1 mile. This is suitable for buggies too, and this is where the magical story comes into play. You walk along, stopping every so often to read from the story about how the evil toad had captured the King Fisher, and there are various props along the way to add to the story…for example the King Fisher’s palace is a big hotel complete with guest comments book. All rather cute. By the end of the walk you have saved the King Fisher, and the toad and his soldiers have been banished to the pond. I do love a happy ending 🙂 We then retreated to the car to retrieve our lunches and all the necessary equipment for THREE hours of pond dipping!! I thought we’d maybe be there for a couple of hours at the most, but our little lady basically spent three hours moving tadpoles around various places or holding them, or putting her hands into the pond to feel them swimming around her hands. She then put some in bug pots so the mini men could enjoy them, and taught them how to catch them. Apparently 3 hours is nowhere near enough time to play with tadpoles continuously!!
We will definitely be returning again to this oasis of nature, and thank you so much for giving us the idea…you know who you are 🙂 As for our little lady wanting more time, I think we will be sticking to a four hour limit there, as parking is £4.50 for 4 hours, or £7 over four hours!! We have also started benefiting from being out of school in term time, as I can imagine this place is a hot favourite with the locals at weekends and during holidays. Bug pots are rinsed, nets are dried, and three children smelling vaguely of sun cream (even after a bath) and dreaming of evil toads and tadpoles are tucked up in bed. Cheers!!!