Beale Wildlife Park is an outdoor wildlife park located near Pangbourne in Berkshire. It has a mixture of everything, from animals (like lemurs, zebras, meerkats and rare breeds, reptiles, birds, free roaming peacocks) to farmyard to landscaped gardens to good sized play areas and even a splash pool. However, I am not sure which category does it fit in? Is it a farm park? It reminds me of Hogshaw farm in some ways but it is bigger. Is it really a wildlife park? It does not have the variety that Cotswold wildlife park has. It sandwiches somewhere between the two I think.
I will start with the play areas first as Ay would have happily spent the entire day on the huge bouncy pillows or the three climbing pyramids which are visible when you walk into the park. The climbing pyramids are suitable for older children, as it requires skill, agility and long legs to climb from one bar to another. The structure is set up in a sand pit, so is probably safe, but, that also means, the kids just start playing in the sand once they are done with climbing.
I literally had to drag him away to see the animals, which, for once, he was not interested in. It is also partly due to the fact that although they have a good collection of animals like like lemurs, zebras, otters, meerkats and rare breeds, there was no wow factor or much variety. They do keeper talks during feeding times and a timetable is available at entry. There is also a farmyard collection including Shetland ponies, donkey, alpacas and goats and a bird house full of chirpy noisy birds. We liked the reptile house where Ay got to stroke a tarantula and hold a giant snail. There are also wooden sculptures of different animals all around the grounds.
There are other play areas scattered around the park catering to kids of all ages, including an adventure playground beside the cafe. There is a Little Tikes village for under 5s where little ones can drive Cozy Coupe cars around the marked roads and explore the little Wendy houses. A larger adventure play area for intermediate age group sits next to it beside the cafe (with slides, obstacle courses, climbing structures and a pirate island with sand and wooden boats). Good thing that there are benches close to all play areas, so you can sit back while your kids play.
There is also a giant sand pit and a shallow splash/ paddling pool (which only opens during summer). Unfortunately, the pool was dirty, though I think this was unavoidable because of its proximity to the sand pit and children going from one to another, but the water was cold.. like really cold! Ay was shivering in and out of the pool which was a shame as for once, I had gone prepared with a change in clothes, towels etc.
They also run special events during the holidays. There was a bouncy castle on the day we visited. I don’t know what is it about these inflatables that children can not resist. There was a long queue but kids were waiting patiently for their turn. Kudos to the staff who were so friendly and smiled/ encouraged each and every one of them. I was most impressed by their dedication! Ay could have spent the entire day here too.
There is also an indoor Play designed for under 5 years, with soft play, ride-ons, rocking horses, slides, kitchens and play houses, but we somehow missed it!
There is a train which runs on the narrow gauge railway, originally a steam locomotive and now a diesel called Howard. Unfortunately, it was not running on the day we visited, which was very disappointing! I read that the 1.6km track runs from the station, Howard’s Halt, near the site entrance and loops around much of the park, offering excellent views. I saw peacocks and people roaming on the train tracks, so the drivers must need to be very careful to drive them around.
Another thing that sets Beale apart from other farm park or wildlife park is the beautifully landscaped ornamental gardens and the lakes with bridges to walk over and benches to sit to enjoy the moment. There is no fencing around the water edges, so you have to watch over your kids closely.
There is a lot to do and you can easily spend all day here. We got out ticket via a groupon deal, so the visit for me and Ay cost 12£ which was AMAZING. Would I be happy to pay the full price? Probably yes, but keep an eye out on groupon or other similar sites to get yourself a great bargain. If you live close by, then make use of the Fiver Fridays, where you can visit the park from 3.30pm on Fridays for just £5 per child – one adult goes free for each paying child.
Basildon park is really close in case you wanted to do more in the area but I think you can easily spend the entire day here.
Address: Lower Basildon, Reading, Berkshire, RG8 9NW
Running special events over weekends and during holidays (please see website for details)
Ticket price applies; Adults, £14.50, Children (2 – 15 years) £11.50 (please see website for updated prices)
Toilets and baby facilities on site
Refreshments/ cafe on site
Only service dogs are allowed within the park and please also note that there are some areas where service dogs are not permitted due to proximity of the animals
Picnic allowed and lots of picnic benches
Scooters and bikes are not permitted on-site