Haldon Forest Park – Review for families

Bikes, blue skies and big-time activities on offer - everything you need to know for a day out at Haldon Forest Park in North Devon

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What is it?

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It’s a beautiful forest park with a variety of walking, cycling and horseback riding trails and even Go Ape activities on offer.  Find it in Exeter. The postcode is EX6 7XR

Best for:

9 – 12 / 12+

OK for:

5 – 8

Cost

All you have to pay is the parking fee. To stay for more than two hours, it’ll set you back £4.

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What’s on offer

A number of trails, but the best for children are the Discovery Trail and the Mamhead Sensory Trail. The former is for people of all walking abilities, with fun features for children and regular resting points, alongside killer views of Dartmoor and Exeter. The latter is relaxing, for all abilities and offers ‘breathtaking’ views along the Jurassic Coast and over the Exe estuary. The Discovery Trail is also ideal for beginner cyclists.

For older children and confident walkers, moderate trails include the Butterfly Trail and the Raptor Trail. It’s tougher terrain, there’s no doubt, but the stunning views of the Teign Valley and wildlife are certainly worth it.

If your family is lucky enough to own a horse, you can ride along one of the park’s lovely horse trails. If you’re less into walking, cycling and riding – but still want to encourage your children to exercise, the park holds regular archery sessions for any budding medieval warriors out there.

For thrill-seeking families and children over 10 years of age prepared to spend a bit of extra cash, get involved with the Go Ape Tree Top walking adventure. Swing like Tarzan, battle the high ropes and cruise down the zip wire like a pro.  Alternatively, cruise along on a Go Ape Forest Segway.

Over the school holidays, get into the spirit of the woods with the Woodland & Family Adventure clubs. The former is suited to children ages 6 – 13, but the family adventure is suitable for all ages. Play some games, track some animals and even light up a campfire or two and enjoy being connected to nature.

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Highlights

If you don’t fancy dragging the kids on a walk, but you haven’t got the bikes with you, fear not, you can hire them on the day from the park.

The Treetop and Segway experience are awesome, but they do come with a hefty price tag. There are small children’s stations along the trails so no one will get tired for too long.

We’d recommend taking a picnic to eat in the open air. Finally, it’s cheap, the staff at the park are very polite, the natural air is good for all the family and children will love being able to run wild and free in the forest.

What to watch out for

– The play areas are nothing special and may not being that engaging for young children.

– The GoApe Segway experiences are £35 per rider. Training is provided.

– No individual who weighs less than 7 stone is permitted to use the Segway and neither are any children under 10. Please bear this in mind when considering the experience. For full information please visit the Go Ape website.

– Beware of cyclists. They’re relentless, because the paths are not exclusive to cyclists or pedestrians. Be especially careful if you have a pushchair. Some cyclists on these trails may feel that they have right of way, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Just be vigilant and don’t let little children run off too far.

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MFM tips:

– The older your child, the more they will enjoy the park. There just isn’t enough to keep little ones entertained here.

– Bring change for the car park. No one at the park will help you to make change.

What the owners say

“Whether you want a quiet gentle stroll or an exhilarating mountain biking experience, there’s something for you at Haldon Forest Park. 3,500 acres of woodland just fifteen minutes from Exeter.”

Visit the official Haldon Forest Park website

Explore more of North Devon’s best family attractions… 

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The BIG Sheep
Combe Martin Wildlife & Dinosaur Park    
Watermouth Castle
Powderham Castle
Exmoor Zoo
Quince Honey Farm
Clovelly Village

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