Basildon Park in Reading has to be one of our most favourite National Trust properties ever!!! The place is big, the walks are gorgeous and it has very unique play areas.
As soon as you walk past the reception and the courtyard with the shop, the woodlands greet you, accompanied by a play area on the left. Though devoid of traditional swings or slides, it offers something even better. Two impressively long ball runs steal the show, alongside an array of balancing logs and a charming den complete with colorful wooden stools. One ball run is artfully carved into a tree trunk, while the others consist of cleverly assembled trays. Ay gleefully chased the balls; the track was slow and there was also a gradual descent that allowed him to outpace the balls. He won all the time, reaching ahead in time to catch the ball! It wasn’t a rainy day, but the ground was a tad slippery, so make sure you wear the appropriate footwear if that’s what your children would want to do.
The tennis balls are available from the shop at 1£ each, so either bring your own or buy them as you walk through the courtyard. You should also take a picture of the map of the estate when you arrive at the reception. I have attached the pdf version HERE for ease of planning but it does not have the marking of the play areas. For that, have a look at the picture in the gallery.
After playing with the ball runs, we ascended up through the woodland. Sparkly lights wounded around the walk, giving it a festive feel. As you come up, you will see the house on the left (with the cafe). Did you know that Pride and Prejudice was filmed here? The house is closed on Wednesdays so we couldn’t go in,, but I hear there are some very quirky features including a room completely decorated with shells. If a house visit is on your agenda, just remember to avoid Wednesdays.
The walks around the estate are signposted but the start is a bit confusing. If you start walking towards the exit (away from the house), you will come across a gate with map on- that’s your place to start. We took the peasants walk, which was meant to last about 20 minutes, but of course we got lost (I really need to up my map reading skills!). There are gorgeous green fields until you read the woodlands, and then you come across more ball runs and more balancing logs. Ay just wanted to keep going, running enthusiatically to the next pit stop, and collecting thousands of autumn leaves and berries in the meantime. The walk concluded in a vast meadow populated by grazing cows(which I think should have been the start but never mind). There is a LOT of cow poop – so dressing appropriately and donning wellies is a necessity!
Reflecting on our experience, I’d recommend a different approach: I think the best way would be, that upon reaching the first gate, proceed straight through the fields and cow-filled pastures (don’t veer left as we did) until you encounter the second gate, allowing you to enter the woodlands from there. This route seems more straightforward, guiding you along the track rather than attempting it in the reverse direction like us. We ended up spending three hours here and loved every minute of it apart from when I fell and landed on thorns (and cow poop)- OUCH!
🎟 FREE for NT members, otherwise price applies- please check website HERE
🗺 Address: Basildon Park, Lower Basildon, Reading RG8 9NR
🚘 Plenty of free parking
🚻 Toilets or baby facilities
🍕 Cafe on site but with limited options
🐕 Dogs on leads allowed
🦽Buggy accessible if you kept to the paths (and don’t get lost like us!)
🧺 Picnic allowed and lots of picnic benches
Watch all our fun HERE
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