Wendover Woods is near Wendover in Buckinghamshire. It’s a massive, stunning woodland run by Forestry England and it’s somewhere we visit all the time. It’s a very popular local family day out, partially because of the excellent facilities they have on site. You can still find lots of quiet spots to yourself though if you want to, just keep off the playtrail and firecrest trails as these tend to be the busiest. They run regular trails and events etc so I’ll regularly be updating this review of Wendover Woods when those trails change. The current family trail is the Gruffalo Spotter’s 2 trail. Click here for the full review of that trail.
In the Free Time with the Kids awards 2020 Wendover Woods was voted not only the best outdoor day out in Bucks, Beds, Oxon and Herts, it was also voted best overall family day out! Well done everyone at Wendover Woods and Forestry England.
The play trail at Wendover Woods
The play trail at Wendover Woods opened in early 2019. There are two loops to the trail and it is not just a couple of glorified benches for you to scramble along. IT IS EPIC! Whilst parts of it are not exactly smallest child friendly (at 15 months), there are bits she could get around and the older kids loved it. The mud kitchen is a real highlight.
There is a short loop and a long loop – basically the short loop just cuts off the top of the long loop. If you do go that way though you’ll miss the Tree Lab. The route partially follows the Firecrest trail, but the footpath has been vastly improved. It’s no longer a quagmire and pushchairs can easily get around. Little note, particularly when it’s damp the kids will get messy on the play trail so dress accordingly.
Other playground areas
There is a new toddler play area right next to the cafe which has recently opened and there are still some swings and other play equipment behind the ticket machine block. There’s not as much of a playground as there was before the transformation, but the play trail more than makes up for that. If you’re looking for a good playground then you’re better off trying the helicopter park or pirate playground just down the road.
There are two main grass areas where the kids can run around and there are some amazing trees for climbing. These bits are perfect for a picnic. Right next to the BBQ area there is a section of predominantly pine trees which means the ground is pretty clear. This is a clear favourite for the kids to run around in and they’re easy to keep an eye on from the grass.
There are several BBQs including pre-bookable ones. Click this link to book (£70 per day). As of 2020 there are only two free BBQs available. All of the rest have to be pre-booked. It seems that the plan is to eventually remove all of the free BBQs. I’ve spoken to the team at Wendover Woods about this. There’s been a real issue with litter (which then nobody claims responsibility for), people flout the rules by bringing disposable BBQs and on a nice day it’s almost impossible to get one unless you’re there at the crack of dawn. I do see where they’re coming from, but it seems a bit of a shame.
What else is there to do at Wendover Woods?
There are regular children’s trails, usually Julia Donaldson based. Can you find the giant wooden Gruffalo? As I mentioned these trails do change. I’ll be doing a review of the newest trails at Wendover Woods as they open.
You’ll also find a Gruffalo orienteering course, with maps available from the kids. £1.50 per course.
Most people, when visiting Wendover Woods only go down the same 4 or 5 paths but there is so much more to it than that. I’d highly recommend that you either download a walks map or pick one up on site if you’re always doing the same routes.
The area is very popular with cyclists of course and there are bridleways as well. There is a fitness trail which seems to be very popular with people trying, and failing, to prove how fit they are. At this time of year it is full of conkers too. There is even a hidden hill fort next to one of the trails.
There is also a Go-Ape and now a Junior Go-Ape for younger children. My boys have both done Go-Ape and they absolutely loved it! Biggest child was a bit nervous at first about being up so high but within a minute or so of being up there I wasn’t sure we’d get him down again!
Wendover Woods has now completed a massive transformation project. If you haven’t been up here recently the car park has been vastly improved and parking is pay on exit.
The cafe has recently been transferred to new ownership since the visitor centre was completed. I’ve now had chance to look around and it’s ok. There’s tons more seating than there used to be, both inside and out. There’s an extensive menu as well. BUT it is expensive. We brought one can of coke, one cookie and one slice of cake and it came to over £8!
There are some stunning views across the valley from the deck. Dogs are allowed to here, but you’re not allowed to eat picnics on the deck. There are lots of bike racks here too. If you do want to have a picnic then there are plenty of benches just below the deck. There are no bins here and you’re encouraged to take your rubbish home with you.
The visitor centre houses the new toilet block which is a world away from the old ones. Firstly, there are loads of toilets and secondly there are proper sinks. The only disadvantage is that they’ve put the automatic flushes about bottom height behind the seat. It’s very disconcerting that the loo flushes whilst you’re still sat on it!!!
The woods are part of the Chiltern Hills and can be seen across the Aylesbury Vale. As a result of this, there are plenty of steep slopes. Currently there is only one truly accessible path. The other consequence is that the views are stunning. You can use a pushchair on the rest but it can get muddy and bumpy – It’s a woodland so that’s to be expected.
Social Distancing Information
Wendover Woods is huge and so there’s plenty of space for everyone. The main pinch points will be the parking machine area, toilets and probably the grassy areas. Once you’re away from these social distancing should be fine. The three main paths will be the busiest so it might be a good idea to try a new one. You can use the app for parking if you don’t want to use the machines. Toilets are currently open but the cafe and all play equipment is currently closed.
Free. Closing times vary with daylight hours so check before you go.
Parking / how to Get There
Address – Upper Icknield Way, Aston Clinton, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.
Sat Nav Postcode: HP22 5NQ
Parking – A new ANPR system is in place so you pay as you’re leaving – much better than the previous PAYG system. The cost is up to 2 hours £2.50, 4.80 up to 4 hours and £9 all day. **New prices since 1 Dec 19**
Part of the new visitor centre and they’re much better now. There’s two massive baby changes.
There is a cafe on site and of course picnics are very welcome. There’s a nice open space where you can have yours. They also have a BBQ area – see my comment above re BBQs.
Our Review of Wendover Woods
I know a lot of people are unhappy about the amount of development that’s happened but I love going to the woods, and Wendover Woods is the nearest one to us. It’s such a great space to just let the kids run wild. Personally I think that the development has largely been a positive thing. The toilet and parking facilities are so much better. I think the play trail is brilliant as well.
Hi, I’m Vicky. My husband and I live in Aylesbury with our three children; a 10 year old son, an 8 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. I (mostly) love spending time together as a family. We visit all kinds of places and we’re quite happy to drive a fair distance for a decent day out. A few years ago I decided to set up Free Time with the Kids as a way to share our experiences of these family days out. You know, the essential information you need to know before your visit that can be surprisingly hard to find out. Where do I park? How much will it cost me to get in? Are there any discounts available? Are there loos? Can I take a picnic or get food? My aim is to be your go-to guide for all your free and cheap family days out across Bucks, Beds, Oxon, Herts & slightly beyond. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via Facebook
I sometimes use affiliate links if there is something that I genuinely think will be of interest and that I think is relevant to the post. I will always indiciate if a link is an affiliate link. I do earn a small commission for these, and that goes towards the running costs of the site. Any discounts mentioned may only be available for a short time so please double check prices before booking.