Avon Heath Country Park
Avon Heath is great for families and is very accessible for all abilities and interests and has an excellent visitor centre and cafe. The park is owned by Dorset County Council and managed by Dorset Countryside. The miles of tracks offer Tramper users an opportunity to explore some of Dorset’s internationally important heathland and its rare wildlife. The park is dominated by lowland and wet heath, acid grassland and heather, which is broken only by clumps of birch and pine. Some of the rarer species to look out for are Sand Lizards and Smooth Snakes, Dartford Warblers, Woodlarks and Silver-studded Blue butterfly.
The Heathland Discovery Centre opens 11am – 4pm everyday (except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day) and Tramper hire is only available between these times.
Entry to the park is free but there is a charge for parking. There is a large car park next to the Discovery Centre which has four disabled parking spaces. Height of vehicles is restricted to 2 metres by a height barrier. The car park gates open at 8am and close at 6.30pm or dusk, whichever is sooner.
There is a parking barrier and car park charge of £1.50 per hour apply. Those with tax exemption can apply for a Friends of Avon Heath membership with free parking permit at the Discovery Centre (proof of exemption will be requested eg Vehicle Registration document or PIP eligibility letter)
The cafe is open seven days a week and serves breakfast, lunch, snacks, drinks and Sunday roast. You can check out Avon Heath Cafe on Facebook. The opening times are: Monday to Thursday 8am till 8pm; Friday 8am till 5pm; Saturday 8am till 5pm; Sunday 9am till 5pm.
Toilets: The toilets are open every day from 8am till 5pm. There is an accessible toilet available for disabled users.
Picnic areas: There are several picnic areas on the park. The main one is next to the cafe, play area and barbecues and is dotted with benches. Two large barbecues are available to hire on the main green behind the cafe. £24 for one barbecue and £45 for the two. Coals are not provided.
There is a spacious play area with a zip wire, climbing wall, sand pit, tree house, giant insect climbing sculptures and more. A grant from Veolia was awarded in 2011 enabling extension of the play area to include the above. It is situated next to the cafe, Discovery Centre and picnic area – a short walk from the car park.
Avon Heath Country Park is 25 miles north west of Southampton, 10 miles from Bournemouth, 2 miles west of Ringwood (A31). You can plan your journey using Google Maps or use the directions below.
By road: Take the A31 from Ringwood (2 miles). Take the first exit of the roundabout off the Woolsbridge roundabout into Brocks Pine at St Leonards. You will see the large green Country Park sign at the entrance. There is a large car park by the Heathland Discovery Centre (some charges may apply)
By bus: The 38 (Wilts & Dorset) stops at St Leonard’s Hotel, which is 10 minutes walk from the Country Park. Passengers from Salisbury / Bournemouth directions need to catch service X3 (Wilts & Dorset) to Ringwood and change to service 38. Passengers can use the X6 to travel from Poole to Ferndown/Ringwood where they would need to change to service 38. For more information see individual bus timetables
By train: The nearest mainline train station is Bournemouth. You will need to take a bus or taxi to the Country Park once you arrive at the Train Station.