Wychwood Wild Garden is the most wonderful place to explore outdoors with kids. On the Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire border, it’s not far from Burford in the beautiful Cotswold village of Shipton-Under-Wychwood.
I visited for the first time on a hot and sunny May bank holiday Monday during lockdown so was half expecting to have to turn around and go home if it was too busy. While there were quite a few people there, everyone seemed to disperse well through the grounds and we had plenty of space to explore and also stop and just enjoy the tranquility.
Forget formal stuffy gardens where children are restricted, Wychwood Wild Garden lives up to it’s inviting name. With 12.5 acres you can explore everything from a weaving maze of woodland pathways to pottering around on the edge of the large pond.
After much fundraising, Wychwood Wild Garden was sold to the local community in 2009 and is now looked after by volunteers and open to the public to enjoy for free.
We started at the side entrance found on Dog Kennel Lane, scroll on down to find out about parking and access. The photo above is the view looking back out of Wychwood Wild Garden.
Entering through big wooden gates the path almost immediately splits into two directions. If you head to the right, you can follow the woodland pathways around in an anti clockwise direction and if you plough on straight ahead you’ll arrive at start of series of ponds, waterfalls, stepping stones and canals.
The Round Pond was my favourite spot and we ended up staying ages here. There’s a bench seat and a couple of huge tree trunks you can rest on. There are lots of ducks and ducklings and at one end a little path over the pond entrance and at the other a faster channel leading to the first mini waterfall. It’s not a pond you could paddle in but the gap in the path over the pond entrance is good to jump over. Where the flow exits on it’s journey, we took off socks and shoes, sat on the edge and dipped our toes in.
You’ll also find an absolutely amazing Cedar of Lebanon tree at by the Round Pond. It’s thought to be over 300 years old and would inspire a fairytale, if I only had the time!
Follow the path down either side of the stream and it turns into canals, each with a mini waterfall and stepping stones to jump across.
There’s something about the sound of water and the sunlight filtering down through the leaves to make you feel zen and I can seen why a friend of mine described this as her ‘happy place’ during lockdown.
The canals eventually lead out to join the Evenlode and you can follow the path on around and into the woodlands for more fun.
We left the path and discovered plenty of places where kids had been building woodland dens, we searched out sticks and my boys generally ran around making up their own games and having fun. It’s really a natural play park and we’ve learnt that we don’t need slides and swings to have fun.
Lastly we had a good run down the main entrance avenue. If you were arriving on foot rather than parking and using the side entrance, then this would be the way you would come in. It’s lined with an impressive hundred lime trees.
Diggers Wood is 200 mteres further down Dog Kennel Lane where we parked but we had so much fun in the gardens that we didn’t venture on to explore there. Dogs are allowed on leads in Wychwood Wild Garden but if you want to give them a good run off the lead then you can do that in Diggers Wood.
Wychwood Wild Garden Parking
Wychwood Wild Garden is pretty much in the centre of Shipton-Under-Wychwood. The main entrance is through the gates at Shipton Court but there is no parking here. There is no specific car park for Wychwood Wild Garden however they recommend parking along Dog Kennel Lane. To enter into the gardens, just wander a short way down the lane and you’ll see a double wooden gate on your right hand side, just after the wall ends. You’ll know what I mean when you see it.
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