With trails, family cycling, wildlife, a horse trail, play area, plus food and drink on offer, there’s plenty at Top Lodge Fineshade Woods to keep all the family entertained.
The weather has been kind to us lately and on the day I took my youngest Ruby, who is 22 months, to Fineshade Woods, it was a particularly sunny day.
Finding Fineshade was very easy. It’s about 14 miles from my home in Corby, about half way to Stamford, just off the A43.
We arrived just before 10am and there were already plenty of cars parked and people milling about, ready to take their dogs on walks or just going on an early morning stroll.
There are plenty of pay stations about to pay for parking. And it’s worth remembering to bring the right money too, as no change is given.
There’s a cycle hire on site so once we had paid and displayed we headed over to hire a bike for a few hours.
It would cost about £13 for me to hire a bike with fitted child seat for Ruby for two hours.
However, they were expecting a large group in so we would have to wait 40 minutes before we knew if there would be any spare bikes available.
While we waited, we played in the adjacent play area which has a hammock, wooden tee-pee, play house with slide and climbing frame. Ruby loved climbing the stairs to the playhouse and going down the slide!
After 20 minutes of playing I decided to head back to the car and get Ruby’s pram out and go for a walk rather than cycle, as I didn’t want to wait another 20 minutes – especially as there was no guarantee there would be a bike available.
So off we went. There are three named walks you can go on: Smelters Walk (two miles), Dales Wood Walk (three miles) and Mill Wood Trail (six miles).
We opted for the Dales Wood Walk as I guessed that would take us about an hour.
The sun was really shining by the time we took off so I would definitely recommend you carry some drinks with you.
Especially if you’re pushing a buggy as it does get a little hilly at times on this route and it was thirsty work!
About a mile in, we came across an amazing wooden play house. It was recommended for children aged six and over so I’ll have to come back with my other two before we try that out!
A perfect pit stop with the kids though. And there are plenty of picnic tables here too.
It was after this point we had quite a big, gradual hill to climb which, in the heat and pushing a buggy, seemed a bit of an effort!
But it was worth it for the views. There are trees galore here!
Along the walk we saw an abundance of butterflies which intrigued Ruby as she hasn’t really seen many butterflies before.
There were also a few diversions in place along the way as parts of the walk are being ‘spruced up’, so you’ll need to allow an extra ten minutes for your walk.
After almost 70 minutes, we arrived back at the car park and headed to the on-site café for a well-earned cup of tea and juice.
As it was such a lovely day, we sat outside at the chunky wooden table with our drinks. The café, along with drinks, also sells a selection of hot and cold food.
After spending more than two hours here, it was time to head home.
Fineshade is perfect for anyone who likes nature, cycling or walking so it’s bound to appeal to many families.
And if you take your own bikes with you (or just walk), it turns into a really good value, family day out.
At Fineshade you can choose to cycle the routes rather than walk.
And on Fridays at 10am during summer, there is a Mums and Tots five-mile cycle ride (dads and other carers are welcome too!).
Prices start at £5 to hire a bike with child seat (which is a special reduced rate).
For more information or to book a place, call Sally on 07956 436361 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
It costs £1 to park for an hour or £3 to park all day.
After 5pm parking is just £1.
All monies raised from parking fees goes towards the maintenance of the visitor centre, the trails and wider forest.
Fineshade is open from 10am to 5pm in summer, and closes at 4pm from November to February (5pm at weekends).
Top Lodge Fineshade Wood is located halfway between Stamford and Corby, just off the A43. Use Sat Nav postcode NN17 3BB.
Did you know?
Fineshade also has a Caravan Club site which is right next to the visitor centre. Perfect for making the most of your surroundings.