All of our local tourist spots are really busy in the summer months so when you want to cool down on a hot day you need to think of other places to go. RSPB Arne is an area of natural beauty which covers 565 hectares of heathland and woodland so you can choose to have a short visit or stay all day if you wish. The reserve on the edge of Poole Harbour is a haven for wildlife and remains one of the few places in the UK where all six of the UK's native reptiles can be found.
There is a visitor centre and toilets close to the car park and I’d recommend using the toilets before you start your journey through the woods. We chose to take the red route which we were told would take approximately 25 minutes however it was hot, I had a pushchair and my daughter had to keep looking for fairy doors (imaginary ones) and climb trees so for us it took about 40 minutes.
The views are simply stunning and by the time we got to the water we were hot hot hot and desperate to get in and have a paddle. There seemed to be quite a lot of seaweed but we walked far to the right which was much clearer and whilst we didn’t go far enough in for a swim we was quite content in the warm shallow water and my daughter had endless fun fishing seaweed out with her spade and making a collection with some nice shells.
After our picnic it started getting too hot for us on the beach and whilst there was a couple of shady spots under the trees we thought it would be nicer to have a slow walk back through the woods where it was cool.
Now, here lies our one little problem. We followed the red route down with no problems at all but on the way back I must have missed a turning and we ended up going a completely different route. My mistake took us out of the lovely shade and onto a hot path which ended up taking well over an hour which luckily my daughter slept mostly through. My poor mum was bursting for a wee and I’ll admit after a while I wished I’d picked up a map or invested in a compass haha.
We didn't see much wildlife on the day which was probably had something to do with my noisy children but pre kids I would visit with my husband late afternoon and we would see herds of deer. It's such a beautiful and tranquil place to be and great for stretching those legs.
For more information including location, trails and car park open hours please visit RSPB Arne.
*UPDATED AUG 2022*
We had origionally visited during the pandemic in summer 2020 so some of the facilities were closed and entry prices were different. As of 2023, entry is £5 per adult and £2.50 per child. The first child and those under 5 are free. Entry for RSPB members remain free. The above entry fees apply during facility open hours and once they close the parking charge is £5 per vehicle. RSPB members park for free.