Name of playground Itchen Valley Country Park
Location Allington Lane West End
Parking £2.30 for up to 4 hours, season tickets available
Dogs Allowed yes except in fenced play areas
We have been regular visitors to Itchen Valley since we moved to Eastleigh 6 years ago. During this time the park has developed considerably. There are 2 modern well equipped play areas, one aimed at under 8’s, a play trail with animal sculptures, a balance trail, lots of paths for walking and bike riding, woods for den building, a nature centre, a coffee shop and 2 big fields for ball games.
Today for the first time we took bikes with us, my (very) nearly 6 year old found the paths easy going and her younger sister coped well with her balance bike.
The smaller play area was redeveloped earlier this year and is themed around boats. My elder daughter enjoyed the scramble net and climbing to the crows nest, her sister enjoyed the extra wide slide. What I particularly like about this play area is there is nothing that moves, no swings to dodge, and no roundabout to stop your toddler walking into. This playground is also next to the toilets, visitors centre and coffee shop. The coffee shop whilst only open at weekends and very day in the summer is very reasonably priced and serves new forest ice creams.
We also took the play trail through the woods to the balance trail and larger play ground. This route completely avoids the car park and road. The balance trail is very low to the ground but still provided an achievable challenge for my eldest.
The larger play ground was revamped 3 years ago and has a range of very imaginative play equipment, there is a climbing rock attached via a net to climbing poles, a climbing structure that includes rope ladders and looks like the mast of a ship, 3 different types of swing, a zip wire, a roundabout, tunnels and a slide.
My only complaint about this area is that there is not a safe access route to the top of the slide, children are expected to scramble up a slope that was intended to be grassed but is climbed on so much that the grass has never grown. The slide access is frustrating and unsafe for younger children.
Itchen valley is a gem. There is so much to do here. During the summer they run bush craft days and activities for children and adults, there is a new trail to mark each season and a forest school for preschoolers. We love Itchen Valley and make use of our parking pass frequently.
Tomorrow, not a play ground review, but a pub review. Check back for a review of a Durley Pub and some hints for eating out with children.