Avon Heath Country Park
Avon Heath Country Park is great for families and is very accessible for all abilities and interests.
The park is owned by Dorset County Council and managed by Dorset Countryside.
Visitor centre open 11am - 4pm everyday (except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day)
Park gates open 8am
The entrance gate closes at 6.30pm or dusk (whichever is sooner)
The exit gate closes at 7.30pm
Entry to the park is free but there is a charge for parking.
The miles of tracks offer an opportunity to explore some of Dorset's internationally important heathland and its rare wildlife.
The park is dominated by lowland and wet heath, acid grassland and heather, which is broken only by clumps of birch and pine. Some of the rarer species to look out for are Sand Lizards and Smooth Snakes, Dartford Warblers and Silver-studded Blue. There has been an increase in Woodlark on the park over the last few years with eight breeding pairs recorded on the park in 2011.
In order to create extra income for the countryside service, rangers at Avon Heath have turned one of the park's properties into a perfectly located holiday let. See the Sykes Cottages website (opens in a new window) . Since being registered with Sykes holidays in September 2011 the cottage has been booked constantly and bookings continue. There has been a lot to learn as it is quite a different venture for the park's rangers.
Avon Heath news
The Nature Nursery, housed in the Avon Heath's Discovery Centre has just been awarded Outstanding by OFSTED following their first inspection.
Opened in August 2012 the day nursery for 2 - 5 year olds "connects children to nature" both out in the country park, in over an acre of secure garden and within 2 custom built classrooms. Daily experiences include den building, pond dipping, mini beast hunting, campfires, outdoor cooking, growing seeds and much more. As well as the Nursery's dedicated staff, the children spend 4 hours a day with one of the park's rangers exploring the wonders of the natural world around them.
New wildlife area
The rangers are hard at work creating a new wildlife area to replace the much missed old one and its viewing hide. Progress was held up by the wet weather, but creation of the new pond is now well under way. The wildlife area will be behind the reptile vivarium next to the Discovery Centre and will include an artificial badger sett, bee hives, wild flower area, pond, bat/bird boxes and feeders. There will be a viewing hide for visitors to keep an eye on any activity taking place within.
Sculpture workshops held by Weymouth based artist Mark Vyvyan Penney at Avon Heath, proved to be so popular that he extended the one day workshops dates throughout March. Participants were able to create pieces in wood, stone and a variety of other materials which they could take home. Feedback was extremely positive, and consequently the park is considering hosting other creative workshops later in the year.
More news from Avon Heath
For the latest news read our Avon Heath Spring Newsletter (pdf, 6Mb) (opens in a new window)
How to get there
Avon Heath Country Park is 25 miles north west of Southampton, 10 miles from Bournemouth, 2 miles west of Ringwood (A31) and comprises of North and South Park and Matchams View.
- Park facilities
Avon Heath Country Park's facilities include a Heathland Discovery Centre, cafe, gift shop and barbecue hire.
Events at Avon Heath Country Park
Join in the fun by taking part in one of the numerous events at Avon Heath Country Park. Some of the events are extremely popular - so it's best to book well in advance. Payment for all booking events is required at the time of booking and can only be refunded if the event is cancelled by the park.
Friends of Avon Heath Country Park
Avon Heath Country Park is Dorset's largest country park and is home to internationally important heathland and its rare wildlife. Help support the work of the rangers in the park by becoming a Friend of Avon Heath.
Children's Parties at Avon Heath
If you are looking for a children's birthday party with a difference why not join the rangers for an exciting outdoor experience. From den building to bug hunting, animal detectives to pond dipping, there's plenty of fun for any child's birthday at Avon Heath.
Avon Heath Country Park and Eastern Area Sites - Volunteers
Come and help us manage and conserve our sites across East Dorset.
- Avon Heath Country Park team
Contact details for the Avon Heath Country Park team.