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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.

Opening times

  • Heathland Discovery Centre  opens 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

Entrance charge

Entry to the park is free but there is a charge for parking.

Wildlife

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, Woodlarks and Silver-studded Blue butterfly.

Holiday accommodation

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.  There has been a lot to learn as it is quite a different venture for the park's rangers.

Avon Heath news

Nature Nursery

The Nature Nursery, housed in Avon Heath's Discovery Centre has 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 may 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 wildlife area, which can be found behind the reptile vivarium next to the Discovery Centre, was opened at the end of summer 2013.  The viewing hide provides an opportunity to keep an eye on any activity around the new pond, bird feeders and bee hives.  Plans for the area include the installation of an observation bee hive, bird and bat boxes, and creation of a wild flower area.  Cameras are being fitted at various sites in the wildlife area which will project images into the Discovery Centre later in 2014.

Sculpture workshops

Sculpture workshops held by Weymouth based artist Mark Vyvyan Penney at Avon Heath, proved to be so popular that he has extended the one day workshop dates throughout February and March, see events at Avon Heath Country Park.  No previous experience is required and participants will create a fabulous wood carving of their choice which they can take home.

More news from Avon Heath

Check the  Avon Heath Country Park Facebook page (opens in a new window)

Have a look at the Avon Heath newsletter November 2013 (pdf, 3Mb) (opens in a new window)


  • Path through the heath: Link to How to get thereHow 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.

  • Young volunteers helping with conservation: Link to Events at Avon Heath Country Park 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.

  • Squirrel on tree trunk: Link to Friends of Avon Heath Country ParkFriends 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.

  • Group on mammal trap releasing event: Link to Childrens parties at Avon HeathChildrens 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.

  • Christmas tree volunteer event: Link to Avon Heath Country Park and Eastern Area Sites - VolunteersAvon 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.

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