I have only ever been down to Dorset a handful of times; a couple of those times when we I was younger and we’d visit friends living in Christchurch, and then a couple of years ago we went as a family for the first time to visit Poole, Swanage, and Durdle Door areas of the county. But with it being only less than two hours away from us, we decided to head down again last weekend, with a visit to Dorset on the Saturday, and then playing in the New Forest, Hampshire, on the Sunday.
I have a brother-in-law that raves about Sandbanks and the beach there, so that was a must on our list. But what else was around there to visit? We were invited along to Compton Acres, which was only a 5 minute drive from Sandbanks, to explore.
Compton Acres is one of the UK’s finest privately-owned gardens, and as the name suggest, covers acres of land. It honestly just keep going and going; you definitely wouldn’t expect it if you didn’t know about it, as it is tucked away in the Canford Cliffs area of Poole (rather lovely houses around there too, don’t ya know). We had such a lovely afternoon exploring; it is one of those places that you can spend as long or as little as you want there, as there are different routes to take and can take it all at your own pace.
Compton Acres is made up of a series of themed gardens, including the Italian Garden, that the children really loved, as there was giant Jenga and Kerplunk games on the lawn. There is a Japanese Garden (my favourite), the rock and water garden, a wooded valley, an activity area / play area for children, as well as a sculpture garden, to just name a few of them. You are given a map, but you really can just explore and choose the route that you want to take. There are waterfalls, bridges, an stepping stones, making it a really magical place and fun for all to explore. You can even spot some Koi carp in the ponds, and on some occasions, I am told, turtles (we sadly didn’t see any). It is a feast for the senses, with new things around every turn, not to mention the stunning flowers (that smell great too).
About half-way round there is a cafe that you can stop at for a drink or for a snack, if you want, as you look out at the view out to sea. There is also a tea rooms right before you enter the park, as well as a shop and garden centre, and an Italian villa that can be rented for things like weddings (we saw one being set up). There was plenty of free parking which is always a bonus, and you can take dogs into Compton Acres too.
With tickets for adults prices at £8.45, children £4.25, and children 4 and under are free, I think it is really reasonable pricing. Plus, if you’re local, they do an annual pass that costs for £85 for two adults and up to three children (or £35 for an annual adult pass). You’d only need to go two or three times and you will have got your money’s worth. For an afternoon out in nature, I couldn’t fault it. We all enjoyed it, particularly the children, as I say, it is a treat for the senses with glorious, sights, smells, and sounds. I would definitely go again.
Have you heard of Compton Acres before? It would be great to hear what you think.
*our entrance tickets were gifted in exchange for this post – however, all opinions are our own. I only recommend things that I would be happy to pa for myself.