Address: Muddy Lane, Lower Way, Thatcham, Berkshire, RG19 3FU
Price band: FREE! (Donations welcome)
The Nature Discovery Centre at Thatcham (near Newbury) is an absolute gem of a place. Since discovering this place nearly 2 years ago we have been back to visit many times and always seen something different. My kids absolutely love it! And best of all – its free!!!
So what is it? Well essentially it is a nature reserve for wildlife with a variety of habitats including the lake, reedbeds and woodlands. It has lots of different walks of various distances including our favourite one around the large lake and one which takes you to a bird hide. Most of them we have found are buggy friendly.
The onsite visitor centre has a shop with various souvenirs, cafe and helpful information including maps of the walks. It also has learning areas upstairs and downstairs where children can find out more about the wildlife living in the area. The upstairs part can be accessed by stairs or a lift. The toilets and hand washing facilities entrance are on the outside of the building.
The ducks, geese, swans, etc are all very used to visitors here and tend to be friendly, although do keep an eye on your sandwiches! There are lots of different breeds to try and spot as you walk around.
As well as all the wildlife and lovely walks there are two fab adventure playgrounds. One is aimed at younger children and the other aimed at older children. Both have lots of benches for adults to sit and watch and there are also plenty of picnic benches around to have lunch if you want to take your own. The larger adventure playground is one of my kid’s absolute favourites. It is set out like an obstacle course where two people can race each other along and then up the final structure to the slide. We have taken children aged 0-12 here and every one of them loved it.
We have been lucky enough to arrive on some days to find there are special events going on. These have included mini beast handling, arts and crafts, and even a traveling show! Its well worth checking on the website to see whats on when planning your visit.
The Nature Discovery Centre is well worth a visit for children (and adults) of any age and better still, parking and admission is free. There are posts in the car park where you can put a donation if you wish and I would strongly encourage you to do so to help keep this wonderful place going. I am sure you will love it there as much as we do!
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