After a morning at Basildon Park doing woodland and garden children’s trails, before heading off home we decided to nip round the corner to Beale Park. It was a bit of a mystery how to find it as the website says put in the attraction into sat nav (they don’t provide a postcode as that doesn’t get you there), but it didn’t appear on my satnav. Because we were already in Lower Basildon, we just headed past the way we’d gone in the morning and luckily went over a railway bridge and came across the entrance. Basically if you’re on the Pangbourne road you should be able to find it.
Beale Park is a small wildlife and play park. In hot weather definitely take children’s swimwear as there’s a gorgeous large paddling pool, so I was pleased we’d packed that for N (and so was he). Entry prices are reasonable and for a couple of hours wandering around, it’s good value, and there was plenty of field parking even early afternoon.
We were given a map – although it’s not difficult to find your way around. To get our bearings jumped on the train which travels along the length of the park past the larger animals’ enclosures and back again. It runs every 20 minutes, but the day we were there we didn’t have any problems getting a seat first time round.
Don’t expect large animals like elephants or giraffes. Think rheas to sheep, alpacas to meerkats. There’s a good variety to see with sweet spider monkeys, plenty of birds, lemurs and raccoons. We were quite happy watching the spider monkeys for a while, and spent ages watching the meerkats chasing their keepers to be fed.
As well as the real animals, you can also walk around a Japanese water garden which is a beautiful calm place. Through to the dry gardens with African theme. Here you see animal sculptures which suit the type of area the gardens are representing.
N was just keen to get to the play area. There are a handful of changing rooms. These weren’t the cleanest when we were there, and when N went back in afterwards to get changed, someone had peed on the floor in the building. It’s a shame there wasn’t a toilet in there given they must have an issue with that – the nearest toilets were a little way away elsewhere and there were signs up saying don’t use this as a toilet.
The play areas are great though. The paddling pool is enclosed and is a good size. People were sunbathing, picnicking and playing on the surrounding grass areas, or in the large playground areas. There’s play equipment for all ages in the Pirate Island area as well as a good sized sandpit with equipment in. N didn’t really play but there were plenty to choose from if he’d wanted too. And a nice spongy flooring underneath in case of falls.
The café and ice cream kiosk were next to the play area, so handy for watching children play. N managed to drop his ice cream off his cone as soon as I’d passed it to him, grabbed it off the floor and popped it back on, then realised what he’d done and was nearly in tears at the thought of not being able to eat it. I had to grovel to the young guy in the kiosk to ask for a replacement. Mine hadn’t been put on securely either, but I’d noticed and pushed it down further. It was very good ice cream though.
All happy again, we headed over to see the birds and aviaries and walk around to the meerkats. Inbetween the bird enclosures, there were ring tailed lemurs, otters, and mongoose. So plenty to see if you’re a small mammal fan.
Our favourites are always the meerkats and we got to see how they interacted with the keepers who were in their enclosure to feed them. Rather than just sitting around, the meerkats were in and out of their cat flap, trying to get into the bowl the keeper was holding, and doing a lot of burying through their tunnels.
The peacock was showing off. We got a really good show of his tail feathers front and back.
On the walk back past the railway, we spotted 2 Canada geese and their goslings walking around. They were so sweet and fluffy, and a rare sight to see.
We were probably only a couple of hours at Beale Park, but we could have spent another hour+ depending on how busy the play area would be at the time. If you’re visiting with friends on a sunny day, it would be lovely to take a picnic and spend the morning checking out the animals before enjoying the play area and paddling pool in the afternoon.
What we liked about Beale Park
- Good value entry fee
- Free train ride – definitely sit facing forward to see more
- Japanese water garden – lovely to walk through
- Lovely ice creams
If you’re in the area, it’s worth combining with another visit elsewhere. Or making the most of good weather and letting the children loose in the paddling pool.
Have you ever been to Beale Park or is there somewhere else in the area you recommend visiting?
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