If you’re on the hunt for somewhere new to explore outdoors with your kids then the Ardington Woods near Wantage are wonderfully tranquil with the added excitement of finding the Millennium Sundial. I believe the woodlands are officially called the Ardington and Lockinge Community Woodland and were donated to the village to celebrate the millennium. They are perfect for a free woodland walk with kids in Oxfordshire.
I think they prefer you park in the designated car park rather than on School Road but when we arrived there was a notice to say the car park and Christopher’s Wood would be closed to the public from end March to July 2020 to allow Forestry operations to be undertaken. Please respect local residents and be considerate about where you park.
Just past Home Farm on School Road, you’ll find a peacefully grassy area with an avenue of tall trees. Take a moment to close your eyes and listen to the breeze rustle through the leaves, it really is quite magical. Well, it would have been more so but my boys spotted the first standing stone in the centre and squealed with excitement before zipping down to see what it was all about. One side of the standing stone has a huge fossil in it and an information plaque on it giving more information about how the sundial works.
Leading from the first standing stone which is close to the road, you’ll see a long wide avenue. You can head straight up here and then bear left to reach the Ardington Millennium Sundial or take a detour through the woodland to extend your walk.
My boys veered off to the right along a pathway and we had great fun exploring, finding sticks and had a run around in an a wide empty clear field. Along the way we also found wild strawberries (late May) which caused much excitement as many of them were ripe.
We thought we’d completely missed the Millennium Sundial but it didn’t really matter as we’d had such a great time so it was an added bonus when we spied it through the trees.
Ardington and Lockinge Millennium Sundial
The Millennium Sundial consists of thirteen pairs of standing stones arranged in a semi-circle. The standing stones are made from Purbeck stone from the Jurassic period, formed between 130 to 140 million years ago. At noon (solar time) the sun is reflected from the standing stone at the top of the avenue down to the information plaque to form a flash of light although the vegetation has grown up quite a bit so I’m not sure if this still definitely works.
Each of the standing stones at the top of the avenue have a vertical slit which sunlight passes through each hour and they are an amazing sight. When we visited, the ground all around was covered with giant daisies which make it even more magical.
The thirteen standing stones gracefully curve around a large flat stone circle set into the ground which represents the sun and around that are the nine planets of the solar system to form a planetary model of the solar system. Each planet was placed in it’s true relative position for the 1st Jan 2000.
If you’re looking for more great outdoor spaces to explore with kids in Oxfordshire, check out the reviews on Red Kite Days.