What To Know Before Visiting Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre
Ever since Henry went to the Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre (located near Newbury, Berkshire) on a school trip he has been nagging me to take him back for a repeat visit. I would love to say it was because he wanted to see and learn more about minibeasts but truth be told he was hankering for another round on the extensive outdoor play equipment – THE major draw card as far as Henry was concerned. A huge bonus, I was very pleased to learn on arrival, there is no entrance fee.
The site makes families welcome with excellent outdoor play equipment (beats any indoor soft play on a sunny day) and after a quick play we enjoyed a circular walk around the lake which took under half an hour even with a whining 2yr old demanding to be carried at the halfway point. From an ecology point of view, the area is famous for its reed beds, the largest of its kind in Europe. We saw a lot of water fowl and dog walkers on our adventure which ended in a wildlife ‘discovery centre’ which is owned and operated by West Berkshire Council.
The Discovery centre hosts a shop, café, aquarium and hands on learning activities from brass rubbing, microscopes and an interactive bird watching station. The aquarium of fish was a favourite as were the
different learning based activities on the top floor.
We had lunch in the café which had good variety of healthy snacks and tasty treats the cost of a big lunch with drinks and pudding for 1 adult and 2 kids came to just over £17. There are undercover picnic benches outside the centre and plenty of park benches along walking routes if you wish to bring your own picnic. As feeding the water fowl is actively encouraged (food is sold in the shop) there is a bit of a rat problem outside, Henry was amused watching a rodent making repeated visits to and from the litter bin.After lunch it was back outdoors to visit the beautiful minibeast pond and outdoor classroom. We did not bring pond dipping nets with us, nor did they sell them in the shop. The Centre’s own stock of kit seems reserved for school groups only.
We finished the day back at the play equipment alternating between the junior minibeast themed adventure play area and the larger wooden adventure playground – which I must add is incredibly slippery when wet but still an outstanding facility. There is also a zip wire tucked around the back and is not to be missed.
Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre Opening times
The Discovery Centre is open from 10 am to 5 pm during summer and 11 am to 4 pm in winter. The visitor centre is closed on Mondays.
Boots or non-slip footwear as it’s muddy and very slippery after wet weather.
Your own pond dipping equipment.
Dogs must be kept on leads.