If you have never heard of a duck decoy then you’re not alone. They used to be common on large estates but there are only a few left. Essentially it made it easy to attract and catch ducks! The Duck Decoy at Boarstall has been there since the 1600’s apparently, but when all the ducks disappeared it went into disrepair.
These days there’s little duck hunting going on, but it’s a lovely woodland walk around a large lake. As you would expect there is plenty of wildlife (including ducks). The decoy has been left in it’s natural state so it’s more of a rustic woodland than other places. Access-wise, we went back to Boarstall Duck Decoy this time I had Smallest Childs’ pushchair with me. It was also at the end of a very wet winter. You will get muddy, but it is passable with a pushchair. The first wild play area is roped off, with a gap between two trees. You can get a single pushchair through here, but you wouldn’t get a double though.
The wild play areas
There are two natural play and den building area which all the kids really enjoyed. It was hard to pull them away.
There are numerous points of interest around the circular walk including a tree that was struck by lightening and you can see the scar on the bark where the strike went down the tree to the ground. The walk is more woodland than lakeside but there’s lots of wildlife to see and it’s very peaceful. (Ignoring the M40 in the background of course)
You actually have to make a conscious effort to see the lake of Boarstall Duck Decoy because the footpath is fairly far back. You can see all of the “pipes” where the ducks would have been caught and if you walk along these you get to the water’s edge. I went back with Smallest Child this time to do the review of Boarstall Duck Decoy and I was quite glad it’s away from the water. It means she could just do her thing without me having to stop her falling in.
Apparently it takes about 25 minutes to walk all the way around the lake. Both times I’ve visited we’ve been there for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours. Neither of those were in particularly great weather. When visiting Boarstall Duck Decoy with kids, how long you’re there really is dictated by how long they spend in the wild play areas.
When you are getting there you have to drive through a farm yard. You may feel like you’re going the wrong way, but that probably means you’re exactly where you should be! Because it’s such a small site there’s essentially a portacabin as the main / only building. Also, opening hours are fairly limited so make sure you check before you go. (Affiliate link). It’s opened purely by a small group of volunteers but managed by the Stowe estate.
Free for NT members (£12.50 family ticket)
Parking / How to get there
Parking – Free, on-site
Address – Boarstall, near Bicester, Buckinghamshire, HP18 9U
None. There are a couple of picnic tables around though.
Our Boarstall Duck Decoy Review
It’s very interesting and great for wildlife spotting (unless your child is shouting her head off too!) It’s a nice, quite walk that’s not too long and not at all crowded. The added bonus of wild play areas will stretch out the time you’re there.
I’m Vicky and I am a mum of three living in Aylesbury. I set up Free Time with the Kids to review free and cheap family days out in Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire, mainly because I kept forgetting all the fabulous places that were recommended to me!! I love getting out and about with the kids (and hubby of course) and we have adventures all over the place. My reviews tell you all the things you need to know about the family days out and activites we’ve done such as how much it costs, if there’s parking, toilets and if there’s a cafe or if picnics are allowed. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch email@example.com or get in touch via Facebook