A short distance outside of the picturesque town of Marlborough you will find the 2,750 acres of ancient woodland called Savernake Forest. It’s a beautiful place with miles of woodland walks which range from wide well managed pathways cutting through the woods, to rough winding tracks which snake away from the beaten path into wild landscapes where you can easily believe you are the only person in the forest.
I first visited Savernake forest about 10 years ago, around that time I would often head out to find the most obscure little track possible in the hope of getting lost amongst the ancient trees. A feat I usually accomplished with ease given my dreadful sense of direction! The forest is so large and full of history and wildlife that there is always something new to discover. In the past I’ve come across hidden deer hides, slow worms, tree houses, and the remanence of WW2 army occupation.
Now that we have Baby, our first Savernake outing with her was quite different to the walks I remember. Although there are lots of amenities for families at the main entrance of the forest, including toilets, well maintained paths and roads, static BBQ’s, and even a campsite. Savernake is a forest so heading out for a walk with a stroller is not an option. Luckily we had our YippieYo Cross Buggy which handled the paths and woodland effortlessly. Grumpy Dad and Baby even enjoyed some off-roading when the opportunity presented itself! The only limitation we faced was the width of the buggy which prevented us from heading off down some of the smaller winding tracks.
In Savernake forest, sticking to the beaten path isn’t anything like the limitation that it would be in a smaller forest, as there are plenty of curiosities to be seen within a stones throw of the path. We walked for around an hour and even in that time we saw a dizzying variety of trees and plants, lots of bug life (there seemed to be an explosion of huge black beetles roaming the woods), and a very impressive mushroom the size of a small child!
The main paths vary in how they are made and many of them are very muddy when wet, but most of them are wide enough to allow plenty of room for cyclists and walkers to share the space without getting in each-others way.
Sadly many woodlands like Savernake forest have issues with littering and vandalism. It’s so frustrating to see otherwise beautiful landscapes mired by old beer cans and empty crisp packets, but amazingly Savernake doesn’t seem to have this problem. Despite the high number of visitors we didn’t see any littler either on our walk or in the car park! And as for vandalism, unless you count all the romantic carvings that have been added through the ages, there didn’t appear to be any.
When you tire of walking, a 5 minute drive will place you in the centre of Marlborough, which is a lovely little market town with a high street full of small shops, cafés, and pubs. The town has changed quite a bit since my original visit a decade ago. Gone are the majority of the independent shops and café’s, which have mostly been replace with high end chain stores. But it’s still a pleasant place to round off the day and I have to admit that I was relieved to find a Costa tucked just off the main road.
Savernake forest is a wonderful place to take children of all ages to explore. There are trees to climb, picnics and BBQs to be had, wildlife to spot, and mini beasts to hunt! No two visits are ever the same.