I’ve been digging through all my reviews of big outdoor spaces in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. A few have play parks in the area that you’d need to avoid but lots of wide open space to explore, walk or bike in.
Do check individual websites before visiting as things change quickly and some places may not be open. Please follow all government guidance during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Keep scrolling down and you’ll find lots of ideas for Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.
Best Outdoor Spaces in Oxfordshire
Thames Path – FREE
You don’t have to do the Thames path all in one go. You can pick a stretch, enjoy the fresh air and maybe even fit in some geocaching.
Upton to Didcot Art Trail – FREE
A car-free trail all the way to Didcot as well as some beautiful countryside and some interesting art benches along the way. The full ride from Upton to Didcot is around 3-4 miles.
Kilkenny Lane Country Park – FREE
There are 2.5km of footpaths which were ideal for a buggy walk and a long enough route for my older kids to razz around on their bikes. We really love stopping off to marvel at the two huge metal shire horse sculptures with their amazing texture.
Kirtlington Quarry – FREE
Once a busy quarry, Kirtlington Quarry is now a nature reserve. It’s not specifically set up with any kids activities but I think this is it’s great appeal as kids imaginations can run wild and they make up their own games.
Shotover – FREE
There are a number of trails through the park which leave from the main car park. If your kids are like mine and not that keen on just going for a walk, following the coloured markers is a great way to keep them motivated.
Minster Lovell Ruins – FREE
An English Heritage site, the old manor house ruins date back to the 1440’s and is free to visit. They have a beautiful setting right next to the River Windrush with a path running from the village to the ruins.
Cutteslowe Park – FREE (parking charges apply)
If you can manage to avoid the play park then there’s lots of space to explore at Cutteslowe Park in North Oxford. There’s a duck pond too which my kids love.
St Mary’s Fields – FREE
There’s a little circular walk from behind St Mary’s Church in Kidlington or for those with longer legs, lots of pathways across the fields and right up to Thrupp.
Ardington Woods & Millennium Sundial – FREE
If you’re on the hunt for somewhere new to explore outdoors with your kids then the Ardington Woods near Wantage are wonderfully tranquil with the added excitement of finding the Millennium Sundial.
Wychwood Wild Garden – FREE
Forget formal stuffy gardens where children are restricted, Wychwood Wild Garden lives up to it’s inviting name. With 12.5 acres you can explore everything from a weaving maze of woodland pathways to pottering around on the edge of the large pond.
Bure Park Nature Reserve – FREE
The nature reserve at Bure Park in Bicester covers around 25 acres and includes some very important habitats. The River Bure, wet woodland, mature trees, meadows and a number of ponds. With lots of wide semi paved pathways it’s an easy walk around with a buggy or on bikes. There are also little nature trails through the wooded areas for adventurous kids.
Wittenham Clumps – FREE
The Wittenham Clumps in South Oxfordshire are an iconic landmark and great for a family walk. There are lots of trails and you’re likely to see a Red Kite flying overhead.
Blenheim Palace Grounds – REOPENING – CHECK THEIR WEBSITE FOR FULL DETAILS AND TO BOOK A SLOT
Blenheim Palace is one of my favourite and very regular places to visit. They have really extensive grounds. The pleasure gardens, maze and palace must all be paid for if you visit. However, if you just want some wide open space there are a couple of gates you are allowed to enter by for free. Drive through Woodstock and just before the Black Prince Pub (Manor Road, OX20 1XJ) there’s a large green gate that you can enter by.
Tar Lakes – FREE
Within easy reach of Witney, Tar Lakes are perfect for a little scoot or bike around for kids or a pushchair walk if you have a tiny one.
Grey’s Court – National Trust – CLOSED FROM 21ST MARCH
There are fantastic longer routes through the Beech Woods surrounding the estate with a 1.2km loop and a more adventurous 3km loop. There are also stunning bluebell walks here towards the end of April.
Basildon Park – National Trust – CLOSED
Basildon Park has 400 acres of parkland and stunning views over the Oxfordshire countryside. There is a lovely short woodland walk from the main carpark to the house. There are also excellent trees for climbing along this walk. Around the grounds, try building a den or play tic-tac-toe in the woodlands. Younger children might enjoy playing make-believe games in the clearing where there are different sizes seats and thrones carved out of tree trunks.
If you’re reading this towards the end of April then the bluebells should be full bloom with a wonderful bluey purple carpet covering ancient forest floors.
Photo Credit: Alexandra Tandy Photography
Best Outdoor Spaces in Berkshire
Ray Mill Island – FREE
Ray Mill island is not huge but it’s so wonderfully tranquil. Once you cross over the footbridge at Boulters Lock, you enter a lovely chilled out world with mature trees, grassy areas and the highlight being all the ducks and geese.
Thatcham to Theale family bike ride or walk – FREE
The Kennet and Avon Canal is a brilliant place to go on a family bike ride in Berkshire. There are miles of fairly flat, car-free paths and the scenery is stunning.
Alexandra Gardens – FREE
Located right beside the river, with Windsor Castle as a back drop Alexandra Gardens is a beautiful setting. There are lovely pathways to walk through next to the river which are suitable for small bikes and scooters. Have fun spotting the Hawker Hurricane aircraft replica.
Swinley Forest – FREE (car parking charges apply)
There are miles of forest trails suitable for biking with children or going for a lovely walk. Try the flat trails (towards the Go Ape centre) with younger children. Older children can enjoy trying out mountain biking. There are three routes – green (easiest), blue (harder), red (hardest).
Dinton Pastures – FREE (car parking charges apply & can add up quickly)
There are several different tracks around the lakes, ideal for biking and dog walking.
Dorney Lake – FREE
Dorney Lake is a fantastic place for a family walk, bike, scoot or rollerskate. Set in a spectacular 450-acre parkland near Windsor, the site hosted the Rowing and Kayak events during the Olympic and Paralympic Games for London 2012. It’s privately-owned but open to the public almost all year round.
Snelsmore Common – FREE – CAR PARK & TOILETS CLOSED. CHECK THEIR WEBSITE FOR UPDATES
I’ve got lots of photos, just need to find a moment to write up this review in detail. Plenty of easy short walks and if you’re lucky you might see some horses wandering about.
Best Outdoor Spaces in Buckinghamshire
Black Park Country Park – FREE (car parking charges apply)
With over 500 acres of woodland, heathland and open space to explore, Black Park is within easy reach of West London and just 15 mins from Junction 2 of the M40. It’s a really all round place that has something for everyone from dog walkers to buggy walks.
Hughenden Park – FREE
If you’re happy to avoid the play park, there’s lots of open space to kick around a ball. The parkland itself is great to explore with wide open spaces of lush grass and an area of longer grass perfect for running around on a spy adventure.
Waddesdon Greenway – FREE
A wide 4km of path that’s either paved or just fine grit, it’s great for cyclists, scooters, wheelchairs, buggies and walkers.
Waddesdon Manor – National Trust – CLOSED
There’s so much space in the grounds of Waddesdon Manor you could easily stay well over 2m away from the next person. Now’s the perfect time to go for a daffodil walk.
Cliveden – National Trust – CLOSED
Set on 376 acres of woodlands and gardens, Cliveden is situated on the border of Buckingham and Berkshire, in Taplow which is just outside Maidenhead. There is a separate entrance for the Woodlands if you don’t want to visit the whole estate. The woodland trail is over two miles long and great for dog walking too.
Hughenden Manor – National Trust – CLOSED
As soon as you get out of the car park you enter a wooded area. It’s great for wildlife and fun for the kids too! There are logs and tree trunks that have been carved out or built for the children to climb and play on. Before you even reach the manor itself, you can spend hours here while they play and run around.
Stowe – National Trust – CLOSED
Get the kids outdoors with acres of space to play and stretch their legs. Adventures await with so much to discover whatever their age: from the temples, lakes and wildlife.